Phase 1, Sit, Marking

This is the first step in teaching your dog to sit on command.

Hold a treat close to the dog's nose and lure the dog into the sit position by moving the treat slightly over and behind the dog's head.  If the dog starts to jump for the treat, bring the treat closer to his nose to guide his feet back to the ground.  Conceal the treat enough so the dog knows the treat is there but cannot take it from you until the dog is in sit position position.  When the dog is finally lured into the sit position be sure to mark the exact moment with "good boy", "good girl", or whatever word or phrase you choose to use as your conditioned reinforcer.  It is best to use a word or phrase that will feel natural to you, as this is what you will be saying throughout the day to communicate your approval for good behavior.  Immediately after you mark the behavior with praise, allow the dog to take the treat.  It is more important that you can guide the dog into the position than saying the command "sit" at first, but it is OK to calmly repeat the command "sit" as you are attempting to lure the dog.  Once, you can easily and consistently lure the dog into the sit position do the exercise in this exact order:

  1. Say the dog's name
  2. Say the command "sit"
  3. Lure the dog into position
  4. Mark with praise the exact moment the dog is in position
  5. Release the treat to the dog

Keep it simple, and only master this first step before moving forward to fading off the body language.  The first part of the video below, up to the 1:14 mark concentrates on this first step.  When this seems easy, typically in just a few minutes, you can move forward to the next step FADING.