If your dog loves to jump up when they see guests, pesters you for food or play, or barks for attention, you’re not alone. These behaviors are common in dogs, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be annoying at times, or even dangerous if they startle or jump up at somebody more frail.
One thing you can do to help tackle the issue, however, is teach your dog how to offer a ‘sit’ automatically, whenever they want your attention, with just a handful of some of the best dog treats.
It might sound too good to be true, but award-winning trainer Lisa Burton of Listen Dog Training has explained what you need to do in a recent Instagram post — and it’s not as complicated as you might think!
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Perhaps you want to know how to teach a puppy to sit automatically, or maybe you’re training an adult dog. Either way, first things first, teach your pup the correct position for sitting. Burton recommends lifting a treat in an arc in front of your dog’s nose to raise their head and shift their body weight back. Then, once their bottom touches the floor, mark it and give them the treat.
Once you’ve practiced this for two or three sessions, you can begin to add in the word ‘sit’ itself. Practice this until your pup can do it correctly a few times a day for a couple of days in a row.
Then, you can add the automation into play! “To do this,” explains Burton, “You’re going to repeat your luring and verbally cuing the site, as before, but instead of delivering the treat, you’re going to roll it across the floor away from you, so you are breaking the sit and resetting your puppy.”
She advises giving a verbal release cue before rolling the treat — while the aim of this exercise isn’t to train a release cue, you don’t want things to be confusing further down the line when you do start working with release cues. A simple cue like ‘break’ or ‘okay’ would be fine.
When your dog returns to you after getting their treat, practice again a few more times. Once it starts going without any hitches, do the exercise again but without giving your pup a verbal cue. They should work out that, when they sit, they get a treat, and begin to offer the sit voluntarily. So, when they sit voluntarily, mark it and give them the treat as usual. Then, you can practice this in plenty of different environments and with different distractions.
If there are others in the household, get them to practice the exercise with your dog, too, and you could even get visitors who are comfortable helping with training to do so. “Gradually, you can increase the wait between your puppy’s bottom hitting the floor and the delivery of the marker and the treat, to add duration to the behavior,” adds Burton.
It may take longer for some dogs to get the hang of this, as every dog is different, but with some patience you should be able to get your dog to offer a voluntary ‘sit’ when they want something — making your life easier!
If you’re still having trouble with your dog jumping up, however, you might find this article useful: I tried everything to get my dog to stop jumping up, here’s what actually worked.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.