Dog training serves a lot of importance to your pup. First of all, it helps you create a stronger and closer bond with your dog. It can also bring joy and peace of mind because your dog is easier to manage and poses minimal safety risks. Dogs may receive training as early as seven to eight weeks old, but you can delay it by up to six months.
There are plenty of commands you can teach him/her, but it’s ideal to start with the most basic ones. American Kennel Club suggests teaching your dog how to sit for starters. It’s a simple obedience command that even newbie dog owners can manage to train on their own. All it takes is a bag of doggy treats, some assertiveness, and a bit of patience.
Showing your dog the correct sitting position
To succeed in training your pooch to sit, you need to recognize what a good dog sitting position looks like. It’s a crucial step because it will affect your dog’s posture. To determine whether or not your dog sits appropriately, here are two unusual and bad sitting positions you can look out for:
- Puppy sitting – As the name of the position suggests, young dogs often do puppy sitting or sloppy sitting. It’s best characterized by the legs’ wide splaying on the sides, the uneven position of the knees, and a lazy sitting posture. If an adult dog sits in a puppy position, it could trigger severe back, hip, and knee problems.
- Frog sitting/Lazy sitting – Notice your dog sitting like a frog, with the legs bent in a sploot position? There are some cases when this is normal because the dog is relaxing. However, it could also indicate that your dog has canine hip dysplasia. If your dog shows signs of discomfort while sitting, take him/her to the vet for a quick check-up.
Instead of the two described positions, your dog needs to learn how to sit up straight. He/she should be able to tuck the hind legs neatly and straighten the spine when sitting down. If your dog does it correctly, he/she can quickly transition from a standing or lying down position.
Leveraging doggy snacks during the training
Once you’re familiar with the proper dog posture, you can proceed to do the training routine. Start by preparing a small bag of doggy treats. Find ones that are good for your dog, such as vitamin-enriched snacks. You may also opt for your dog’s favorite healthy treats like peanut butter dog snacks, slices of apples, and small chunks of dehydrated meat.
It’s crucial to carry dog goodies with you during training because they serve as positive reinforcement. When done correctly, rewarding your dogs with snacks, new toys, or praises during training encourages him/her to repeat a behavior such as sitting correctly. Then, with regular repetition and effective word association, your dog can sit or perform other specific tasks on demand.
Teaching your dog how to sit
With your bag of treats ready, you can start attempting your training lessons with your dog. It’s a two-step process that involves getting his/her attention by using a doggy snack then introducing the command, “sit.”
For the first step, you must lure your dog into a distraction-free space. Then, place a snack in your hand and let your dog get a whiff of it. Once you have his/her attention, try holding your hand above his/her head. Typically, the dog would respond to the stimuli by looking up. This should, in turn, make your dog achieve a sitting position. To reward your dog, you must position your hand near the nose and slowly guide him/her to reach it once you put it down on the floor.
As soon as he/she successfully sits and reaches for the treat, give him/her a pat on the head and plenty of praise. Do this a few times over the week until your dog understands how to get the reward.
You can then use verbal command or hand gestures to instruct him on how to sit. Repeat the same process in the first step. And this time, you need to introduce your voice or hands into the routine. By adding your chosen cue, your dog can learn how to sit even without luring him with a treat. Practice the routine regularly until your dog gets it right.
If you’re training a puppy, you may need to wait a bit longer until your dog learns the skill. Be extra patient and keep practicing until your puppy masters the routine.
How often should I train my dog?
Dogs have different learning abilities. Some may quickly pick up new skills, while others may need a bit more time to grasp how a routine works. That’s why the duration and frequency of dog training may vary depending on your dog. It’s good practice to gauge your dog’s progress and make adjustments to the training approach or perhaps the schedule and frequency of each session.
As much as possible, avoid overtraining your dog because it might result in poor performance and memory retention. Find the right balance between fun and training. Also, you can consult with a professional dog trainer. This way, you can determine the most suitable approach to use and help your dog learn other vital skills.
My dog knows how to sit; what’s next?
Training your dog proper sitting is not as complicated as other routines. Once your dog learns how to do it, he/she can respond to your cue with great ease. Your next task would be to train your dog how to stay. It’s another basic command that teaches your dog to remain on the same spot until you give him/her permission to leave. The routine also requires the use of positive reinforcement and regular practice.
If your dog succeeds in learning how to sit and stay, it will be easier to take him/her out for a walk around your neighborhood or at the park. Next thing you know, your dog will become more teachable, and he/she starts learning other essential skills like socializing with a family member and walking on a leash.