Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
White dog sitting in field

The essentials

  • The sit command is for dogs of all ages — Don’t feel like you can’t teach an older dog new tricks, as teach “sit” across all ages
  • Don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements — Trainers and veterinarians can be a fantastic resource for you as you go, helping both you and your pet to have the best possible experience.
  • Reward whenever you can — Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to teach your pet, so findwhat they love and prepare to shower them with rewards!

“Sit” is the first command that many pet parents start training with, since it’s a basic command that keeps your dog controlled and ready for action no matter what situation you’re in.

We know it can seem overwhelming at first, but with a little prep and background knowledge, it’s completely doable. Here’s our step-by-step guide to the sit command for your pet, which you can use to lay the foundation for future successful training sessions.

Corgi sitting

Prepare for success before training starts 

No dog or puppy trains in the same way. Acknowledging the uniqueness of your pet’s learning style and their individual learning needs is the first step to take for long-term training success. Here are some things to assess before any training or practice takes place:

  • Your dog’s age. Is your dog a new puppy, a teenager, or a senior? Knowing your dog’s age and developmental capabilities directly affects how you train them — and it also affects the training outcome you both experience.

👉 For example, a pup may be more prone to distractions when training for the sit position, possibly undermining your dog training experience if you don’t address the risk proactively.

  • Your dog’s environment and preferences. Does your dog need a calm room to train in? Or do they thrive in social situations like a training class? Feel free to experiment and see what works for your pet, giving them plenty of opportunities to train in different environments.

👉 As the trust in the training relationship grows, you both might feel ready to move to a new training space as you master techniques.

  • Your dog’s learning style. While your dog can’t take a survey, you can observe how they act throughout the day and their training process. Many pet parents find success using positive reinforcement (possibly through verbal praise or delicious treats) or through sensory-led training — like clicker training. Attempt to get in your dog’s head and experience it through their eyes, and create a training environment that they can thrive in.

🎉 While age can matter when it comes to success in the training process, there is no universal “rule” that dictates what age you can begin training with your pet.

Step-by-step guide for how to teach a dog to sit

Now that the prep work is done, it’s time to get down to business. Here’s a helpful guide to the sit command for your furry best friend.


1. Grab their attention

This can be easier said than done. However, there are plenty of methods you can try. Many trainers and pet parents find luck with a morsel of your furry friend’s favorite food, or a verbal cue that lets them know that it’s “go time.” Some also find success asking their dog to sit before key parts of their day, such as before mealtimes — establishing it as a long-standing part of their daily habits.

If your pet isn’t used to training yet, don’t be afraid to start slow. You can allow your dog a few seconds to wrap up whatever they were doing before you attempt to get their attention, eventually working toward instant obedience when it’s time to do commands.

2. Use treats

Treats are one of the best tools that you can use to teach “sit,” using them to “draw” where you want your pet to go.

Start by waving delicious food treats in front of your dog’s nose, slowly drawing a vertical line up a few inches. As they try to follow the treat lure, their nose will trail upward — forcing their rear end into a sitting position. The exact moment you see them sit, use praise for some extra positive reinforcement and celebrate with them.

3. Repeat the command

Don’t let your dog get too off-track! Regardless if you’re training a young puppy or a senior, it’s best to repeat the command a few times to keep the training ongoing. You can choose to shorten or lengthen the command, using your dog’s body language and attention span as your gauge to keep going or cut it off early.

🐕 Never push your dog too far with training, as this can lead to frustration, loss of attention, or unwanted behaviors.

4. Reward your dog

A treat reward generally works best — however, you might want to also reward with verbal praise, a fun new toy (like a ball), extra exercise time outside, or some other treat that your pet will love.

“Sitting pretty”: An advanced sitting position

Once you’ve mastered sit, you can go the extra mile and try your hand — er, paw — at sitting pretty. This adorable pose puts your dog in a sitting position with their hind feet and rear end, pulling their front paws into a “begging” pose. It’s absolutely heartwarming, and it’s even easier to teach.


Here’s what you need to do to get your pet to sit pretty.

  1. Master the sit command — Be sure that your pup is totally comfortable with this command before teaching sit pretty, as you don’t want to overwhelm them with information.
  2. Once they’re sitting, grab your treat bag — Wave the treat by their nose, encouraging their front paws to come off of the ground. Once they’re sitting like humans do with paws in the air, give them whatever form of positive reinforcement you’re using.
  3. Do it again — It’s ok if your dog falters in height at first. After all, it’s a new position for them! Just continue to work the command in short, measured sessions until your pup can get up and stay up.
  4. Remove the lure — Once the dog can get consistently “up,” use just your hand to signal the command instead of the treat lure. Continue this until your dog can sit pretty consistently.
  5. Spice it up — You can add in a verbal cue once your dog is familiar with the treat-free physical cue.

Things to avoid when training your dog to sit

There are a few things to avoid whenever possible, no matter how you choose to teach your dog how to sit. Here are some common pitfalls (and fixes!) to keep in mind as you go.

  • Spending too long in a session. Dogs don’t have very long attention spans, and often can’t sit for half-hour and hour-long training sessions. It’s best not to exceed 10-20 minutes during a training sesh with your pet. Plan accordingly and let your dog be the guide. They’ll show you when they’ve had enough!
  • Punishment. Punishing your dog if they miss a command can lead to confusion and a breach of trust in your relationship. It’s best to avoid punishment, fear tactics, and negativity during the training process. Combat the negative urges during training with positive reinforcement and encouragement. You’re both learning together — and it’s helpful to verbalize what’s going well, instead of what’s not.
  • Rushing your pup. Not every dog will pick up on a command immediately. If you move too quickly through the process, you may end up confusing your pup or discouraging them. Stay patient and uplifting through your sessions.

How long does it take for a dog to learn sit?

Every dog learns at a different pace. However, pet parents generally report that the sit command takes one to two weeks to master. The frequency of training and efficiency of training sessions can contribute to how long it takes.

Frequently asked questions

Positive reinforcement coupled with short and sweet sessions is the best way to teach a dog to sit. They’ll be able to stay engaged longer, and they’ll want to stay engaged with the promise of positive reinforcement at the end of a sesh.

What age should I teach my dog to sit?

You can begin teaching your dog to sit in puppyhood, usually around six to eight weeks old. You can also teach older dogs to sit. Believe it or not, it is possible to teach an older dog new tricks!

Why can’t I teach my dog to sit?

You may be experiencing difficulty if your dog isn’t used to training, or if you haven’t found the right style of training for your dog. An experienced trainer can be a helpful resource here, as they can conduct a learning assessment with your pet and offer suggestions for more effective training methods.

What to do if your dog refuses to sit?

Avoid the urge to turn to negativity if your dog refuses to sit. Instead, go back to the basics of the move using our helpful guide. Complete each round of work with positive reinforcement. If the refusal continues, speak with a dog trainer. They can help you to identify new methods of training that can lead your pet to a breakthrough.

How do you train an older dog basic commands?

You can help your older dog learn basic commands by starting slow and using rewards at every opportunity. It may take a bit longer for your dog to master commands, so consistency in your training regimen is key.