Clicker train your dog to sit

Using a clicker to teach your dog to sit on command is usually the easiest obedience training exercise to start with. You can either capture the behavior when he offers it or use a lure to guide your dog into the sit position. It all depends on how much he likes to sit on his own. Once he sits reliably you can add the verbal cue “Sit” and change the exercise to increase your dog’s reliability.

Directions for capturing

The quickest way to clicker train a dog to sit is to have him do it on his own. Grab your clicker and treats, head to the designated training area, and wait. Your dog will sit at some point, just be patient and watchful. The instant his hind quarters touch the ground, click and treat. Then back away from him a few steps which should bring him toward you. The moment he sits again, click and treat.

When your dog offers to sit correctly 90-95% of the time, one repetition after another, it’s time to add the verbal cue. On the next repetition say “Sit” just as he’s about to touch down. Following a few more repetitions like this, only click and treat when your dog sits after you’ve asked him to.

Directions for luring

If your dog is not the self-motivated type, you can teach him to sit by luring him into position. Because of their bone structure, dogs can’t look up without sitting down in the process so you can use that to your advantage. Hold a treat just in front of your dog’s nose. When he focuses on it, bring the treat slowly up and back over his head. The moment his bottom touches the ground, click and give him the treat. If your dog backs up rather than sits, do the exercise in a corner so he has nowhere to go.

Lure him into position a couple of times for a click and treat, then try it without holding the treat. When he readily sits several times in a row, add the cue as described above. You may need to return to the lure if your dog stops offering to sit or his responses aren’t consistent.

Tips to increase reliability

Once your dog can sit on cue at least ten times in a row, you can change the exercise a little to make sure he has a good grasp of the command.

Have your dog sit in different places

He may sit in the family room every time you ask, but you should test him in different areas of the house and outside on different surfaces. Sitting on grass, a gravel driveway, or the kitchen tile may throw your dog off the first few times. The more areas you teach your dog to sit in, the more reliable his response will be.

Increase the time and repetitions before you click

Have your dog sit two or three times before you click and treat. Also, have him hold the sit position for a few seconds before you click. This is particularly important if your dog likes to pop up out of a sit to get his treat.

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