How to teach a puppy to sit


Cuteness will only get a puppy so far in this world-he needs to have good manners to be totally lovable. Dog trainer Mike D'Abruzzo demonstrates how to teach a puppy to sit and lie down, with the help of a rambunctious Yorkie named Moses.

How to teach a puppy to sit
  • Remember that a puppy will follow his nose. Take a treat, hold it over his nose to get his attention, say ‘Sit.’ When the puppy sits, praise him and then give him the treat. Repeat several times until he gets it.
  • To teach a puppy to lie down, start with getting the dog to sit. Then, move the treat to the floor. If his butt pops up as he is following the treat, guide him back to a sit, then lower the treat again to the floor until he follows the motion and is in a lie down position. When he’s down, give him praise and the the treat.
  • Never raise your voice or express frustration. The puppy can sense that and will get nervous. It’s supposed to be fun for him.
  • Don’t put the puppy into position with your hands—he has to do the action himself to learn it.
  • Eventually you can get him to obey without using a treat. But when you’re teaching a dog a trick, they have to have some kind of reward, either a treat, praise, or petting.
  • These sessions should be short, no more than five minutes in duration. Three or four short sessions a day, and you’ll have a trained puppy in no time.

KATRINA: I'm Katrina Szish and this is Moses. Moses is eleven months old, but still has some puppy manners to learn. Today we're going to teach you some of the puppy basics. And to help us learn how to teach Moses proper puppy manners is Mike D'Abruzzo, dog trainer and dog whisperer extraordinaire. Mike thanks for joining us.

MIKE: You're welcome. 

KATRINA:  So we have Moses here who is very, very cute, but does need to learn some manners as all puppies do. So the most important thing to me I would think is to sit.

MIKE: Okay. Well sit is very easy to teach a puppy. All you need is some treats and a little bit of patience. And remember that puppy is going to follow it's nose. As long as you have a treat that the puppy would like, you need to just take it, get the puppy's attention and guide the puppy into a sit. Good boy. 

KATRINA:  Alright Mike show us how it's done. 

MIKE: Okay, so timing is very critical here. What I'm going to do is I'm going to take the treat, hold it over Moses' nose and tell him sit. Good boy. After he goes into the sit I'm going to tell him "good boy" and then give him the treat. When we teach "down" we follow the same concepts. We hold the food over their nose to get them into sit position first and then we drop it down to the floor. But if his butt pops up like that, guide them back into the sit first and then back to the ground. Down. Down. Good boy. Patience really pays off. Don't raise your voice or sound frustrated. The puppy will notice and it will just make the puppy nervous and they're not going to want to learn with you. It's supposed to be fun for a puppy at this stage. Sit. Good boy.

KATRINA: Should you ever use your hands to help put the puppy in position so they know what position they should be going to?

MIKE: Never. If you put the puppy yourself into the position, the puppy's not actually learning it. You're doing it for the puppy. For them to learn the quickest and most reliably, you have them do it themselves while you guide with the food. Good boy, very good. Sit, good boy. Down, good boy Moses, very good.  

KATRINA:  Can you eventually do this without the treat?

MIKE: Sure, but remember puppies and dogs do not do things for nothing. If we're not doing it with a treat, you have to either pet the puppy or give them some sort of toy. Something the puppy likes. 

KATRINA:  How many times do you need to do this?

MIKE: Very short sessions. Five minute sessions would be a long session. Maybe three or four, five minutes sessions a day and your puppy will learn very, very fast. 

KATRINA:  Mike D'Abruzzo thank you so much for showing us how to teach our puppies some basic manners.

MIKE: My pleasure Katrina. 

meet theexpert
  • Mike D'Abruzzo

    Mike D'Abruzzo Veterinary Technician and Owner, K9-1 Specialized Dog Training Pet trainer Mike D'Abruzzo is a licensed veterinary technician, certified trainer, behaviorist, and a skilled dog whisperer. He has been trained in many different styles and methods of training, behavior modification, and welfare maintenance. more about this expert »

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