One of the first dog obedience commands you will teach is training your dog to sit and stay.
This is an important command for you and your dog to master. It will clearly define you as the dominant one in the owner-dog relationship, and will provide a solid foundation for more advanced training later on.
You can start training your dog to sit and stay at around three months of age. Some general things to keep in mind when you first start out:
- Keep the training sessions short, ten minutes is fine initially.
- Make the training fun, dont make it feel like a chore, to you and your dog.
- Sessions should be full of praise and positive reinforcement (more about this later).
- Be repetitive, practice over and over until it clicks with your dog.
Training Your Dog To Sit
The first step in the process is getting your dog to sit on command. There are three training techniques I use with my dogs, depending on their age and temperament.
1. For young puppies I like this method. When you see your puppy about to sit, or in the act of sitting, just say "Sit" in a firm tone. When your puppy sits praise him. In your dogs eyes this technique builds an association with your verbal command "sit", and the act of sitting. Most puppies make this connection very quickly.
2. For older puppies or dogs this method works every time. With your dog standing in front of you, grab a tasty treat and guide it over his nose, then continue up over his head. Hold the treat a couple of centimeters above your dog while performing this motion. It will cause your puppy to follow the treat up with his nose, and at the same time plant his behind on the ground. You should say the command "Sit" as your dog is getting into the sit position. Praise and reward your dog as soon as he sits. After a while you will only need the verbal command, not the treat.
3. You need a collar and leash for this next technique, which is best suited to bigger dog breeds. Stand next to your dog, both of you facing the same way. Hold the leash straight up tight, directly above your dogs collar. At the same time push down on your dogs back and say "sit". As soon as your dog sits, reward and praise him. Within no time you can stop pushing him down, then stop holding the leash up tight. All your dog will require is your verbal "sit" command.
The "Stay" part of the Sit and Stay is our next step. Since we have already trained our dog to sit on command, I prefer to use a "release" or "away" command, instead of "stay". This is bacause when I tell my dog to sit, I really mean sit and stay, until I tell you to do something else. The release command I use is "off you go".
The process goes like this. Tell your dog to sit, hell stay in the sit position, then break or release this sit command by saying "off you go". You should use your dogs name then your release command to start with, which will cause your dog to come to you. When he gets to you praise and reward him. After a while you will only need to use your release command, your dog will understand that he is free to go. If your dog breaks the sit command before you issue the release command, say "No!" and put him back in the sit position and start again.
Over time you can increase the time and distance between getting your dog to sit and then releasing him from it. You may even want to add some distractions, or do your training in different locations. When your dog holds his sit position even when a cat cruises by, you know he is ready to move on to more advanced obedience training commands.
If you understand and apply these methods you should achieve the desired result. It may take a bit of patience and plenty of repetition, but you will get there.