Teaching your dog the “Sit”, and the “Down”

Narrated from: Dog Training

All dogs large and small need to sit on command, for many reasons. When a dog bolts out the door and you chase him, the game is on! Something as simple as teaching your dog to sit can keep him alive if you live on a busy street! Once your furry friend knows this command and he responds without thinking about it, almost anything he is about to do can be stopped by telling him to sit. Say for instance you are at the park and he is off-leash; a cat comes prancing by and he begins to chase it, by saying “Sit” (firmly) a well-trained dog will immediately sit. If he escapes through an open door you already know chasing him is a waste of your time, but if he knows the ‘sit’ command and always responds, simply tell him to sit as you walk up to him and grasp his collar to lead him back inside. This is one of the most important things you can teach your pet.

To teach a dog to sit, start by collecting some little tidbits of chicken or a cut up piece of lunch meat. Hold them in a cup or a baggie, selecting one piece at a time to use as an incentive, say “Sit” as you move the treat over his head. For the dog to follow the food treat, his head must go up and for his head to go up his butt must go down. Occasionally you will find a dog that will back up as you move the food. If you run into this, begin with the dog in a corner or against a wall. As you say “Sit”, slowly move the food over his head, but only about four inches above. His nose goes up and his butt goes down. It’s really that simple! You can even add a hand signal to the command so that in the future, after the lesson is taught you can use a verbal signal or a hand signal. His hand signal can be something as simple as pointing at the floor. Once he does it every time without hesitation start weaning the treats back so that he only gets them occasionally.

To teach your dog to lie down, put him first in a ‘sit’ position. Use his favorite treat as a reward along with plenty of praise when you first begin. Then take a piece of the treat and hold it in your hand, palm down, and use your thumb to hold the treat. Wave your hand down in front of him, stopping your hand just inches from the floor. His nose will follow the scent of the treat in your hand and he will be down. Next time, say “Down” as you bring your hand down. As soon as he is in the ‘down’ position, lavish him with praise and let him have the treat. By using both the treat in your hand and the word “Down” as you train him in this he will learn to respond to the voice command as well as the hand signal. Keep practicing until he does it without thinking. Either the hand signal or the verbal command will work. Hand signals are very important if you find yourself in a situation where your dog can see you but cannot hear you.

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