The sit is a valuable exercise as it becomes the pup’s way of saying ‘please’. The ‘sit’ is a natural position for the pup, he will be relaxed which makes giving him attention easy, and he is not jumping all over you, your family or friends.
The sit should be taught from both in front of you and from your left side. When teaching the puppy to sit in front of you, call him to you, show him a piece of food in your hand, hold it close to his nose/mouth and use your hand in an upward motion to tilt his head back. His bottom should naturally move toward the ground, say ‘SIT’ and reinforce with the food as soon as his bottom touches the ground.
Repeat this until he is sitting on your vocal command of ‘SIT’, then introduce intermittent reinforcement. You can also use a hand signal e.g. a pointed finger.
Once the puppy is sitting in front of you, try teaching him to sit on your left side. This is where all obedience exercises are executed from. To practices this – call your puppy and ask him to sit in front of you, keeping the food in your right hand, guide your puppy behind your legs swapping the food to your left hand. As soon as the puppy comes from behind your left leg, ask him to sit, using the food to tilt his head again. He should finish up sitting close to your left leg, facing the same direction as you. Be careful where you hold your hand with the food in it, keep it close to your body. If he moves away, or tries to sit facing you, practice the exercise next to a wall, leaving enough space for the puppy to sit next to you, until he learns to sit close to you, facing the same way as you.
When your puppy learns to come around to your left side and sit, this is known as the ‘Heel’ position, and is where we teach the puppy to ‘STAND’, ‘DROP’, ‘HEEL’ and ‘STAY’. The hand signal to move to ‘HEEL’ is using your right hand in a sweeping motion around your right thigh.
If your puppy is excitable and jumps up on you and your friends or family, by using the ‘SIT’ command you can stop him jumping for attention and ask him to ‘SIT’ for attention instead. When the puppy jumps up, push him down and say ‘NO’ in a stern voice and ask him to ‘SIT’. Once he sits (this may take a few attempts at first) give him lots of praise and get your friends and family to do the same.