Here is the awful truth. Training your dog to sit is one of the least functional obedience training exercises out there. In spite of the fact that there is such little function in this command it is almost always the most given command.
It seems that every time I meet a person or child while with a dog they first think to tell the dog ‘sit, sit, sit!’. On many occasions I’ve asked them, ‘why are you telling the dog to sit?’
I’ve never received a good answer to this question.
Like I mentioned before, there is such little value in working hard on teaching your dog to sit on command. Think about it. If you want your dog to be in any position for any length of time he or she is not going to be too comfortable sitting.
Does your dog want to sit for an hour? A half hour? A minute? I doubt it. I know very few dogs who can feel comfortable sitting for such a length of time.
The Value of Sitting?
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is SOME value in training your dog to sit. I’ll have my dogs sit when we come to a stop while walking. I’ll often have dogs sit before eating their meal. Perhaps I’ll ask the dog to sit before going through a door.
Those are all good things and ALL dogs should know how to sit on command in order to be well rounded and well trained.
But to spend a great deal of time and effort on this behavior makes no sense as it gives such small value.
Instead, spend your time working on other aspects of your dog’s obedience training. In fact, with many of my clients we get to the point where we work on the ‘down’ command so much more than the ‘sit’ command that the dog will automatically lie down upon hearing ‘sit’. If you are training a competition dog that is a problem, for a family pet you are still in good shape.
The sit command, like any other command, comes from first teaching the dog the mechanics of how to do the command followed by proofing exercises.
Start out with your dog on a leash and simply guide him or her into the sitting position. As the dog starts sitting give the command to sit. As time goes on you’ll help less and less and expect the dog to do it for him or herself.
In summary, train your dog to sit. It is a good thing. Just don’t spend all of your valuable time on this less than valuable exercise.
Image Credit: Rennett Stowe