Shape a Sit
• The dog places his rear end on the ground when cued.
Lay the Foundation:
1. Position your hand with a treat in it about 1 inch in front of your dog’s nose.
2. Slowly move the treat hand upward between your dog’s eyes and ears towards his rear. As your dog’s head lies up, in a gentle rocking motion his rear should approach the ground.
3. Click the instant your dog’s rear touches the ground and offer the treat.
4. After a few repetitions, you should be able to lure the behavior without a treat in your hand. Repeat until your dog is reliably sitting when prompted by your hand movement to earn a CT.
5. When the dog is predictably offering the sit position, introduce a verbal “sit” cue. The verbal cue should precede any hand movement and your dog’s rear touching the ground.
• If you’re having difficulty reaching the goal, you can simply try to capture the sit (wait for your dog to offer a sit, and then CT the instant his bottom touches the ground. Repeat until your dog is reliably offering a sit), or shape the sit (CT small increments towards the desired behavior until his bottom fully touches the ground).
• If your dog is backing up whilst you’re moving the lure hand over his hand, then encourage him closer to your body first before initiating the rearward movement. You can also teach the behavior against a physical barrier such as a wall or corner.
• Do not use your dog’s name prior to the “sit” cue, otherwise your dog will begin to think the cue is “Fido sit”. Do not repeat the word “sit” otherwise your dog will think the cue is “sit…sitsit”.
• Your original hand signal that you used to lure the dog into a sit can become your final hand signal; your instructor will demonstrate what this looks like.
Distraction, Duration and Distance
• Your dog begins to sit for longer periods of time, he can keep sitting even when there are distractions around, and he can learn to sit at a distance from you.
1. Ask the dog to sit, and give him a treat (but no click/”yes”). Then immediately release him with the words “okay” as you take a step backward to encourage him to get up and move with you. This teaches your dog that he sits and needs to keep on sitting until he is released with your verbal release cue. Fade out the backward step over time.
2. Add distractions: Vary the location by training in other areas of your house, the backyard, front yard, on a walk, in the park, etc. Also, vary your body position relative to your dog: turn sideways so that your dog is at your side, wave your arms, recline in a chair, etc. Always release with your release cue “okay”.
3. Add duration. Return to the least distracting environment and begin to add duration. Your dog now needs to hold the sit for 1 second/Treat, 2 seconds/T, 3 seconds/T. Build up to 15 seconds. Then move to another environment and start again with a 1 second/T. Always release with your release cue “okay”/CT. Vary the duration, don’t always make it harder.
4. Add distance. Here your dog must maintain his sit as you take a step away from him and back towards him. Cue your dog to sit, lean away from him and Treat. Next time, take 1 step away from and 1 step back towards him and treat. Gradually, increase the distance a step at a time. Always release with your release cue “okay”/CT. Vary the distance, don’t always make it harder.
• When teaching duration or distance, if your dog breaks the sit, you have increased the time/distance too rapidly or the environment is too distracting. Go back to a shorter time or fewer number of steps.
• Vary the duration or distance so it is not always more difficult with each repetition. Sometimes you will ask for 5 seconds, other times you will release immediately.
• With each repetition, reward your dog with a treat while he is in the sit position (but do not click), then release his sit with your “okay” cue, then CT.
Greet a Person with a Sit
• Your dog learns to greet people politely by sitting. At this level your dog should recognize both the verbal cue and the hand signal, so that these cues can be used interchangeably. He should also remain sitting until released with your release cue.
1. Do a quick warm-up by cueing “sit” a few times and reinforcing correct responses.
2. With a person approaching from a distance, cue the “sit” before he or she arrives.
3. When the dog is reliably sitting on cue as the person approaches, begin practicing with other people approaching, including other dog/handler teams.
• Recruit friends and family to visit, and do practices sessions. Practice out on walks when new people are approaching.
• Test the verbal cue: Can your dog sit in response to a verbal “sit” while you hold a bag of groceries.
• Practice “sit” everywhere. Always reinforce your dog in these early days for good sits.