Step One: Lure
In this step you are literally persuading the dog to sit by slowly raising the treat above his head just between his ears while he follows the food. Start by getting the dog interested in the food by putting it right in front of his nose. Once he’s interested in the food, you’ll slowly raise it up above his head in a half circle motion. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose—if you move your hand down too quickly or too far away from his mouth, he may not understand what you’re asking.
Step Two: Mark & Reward
When moving the treat above the dogs head, his weight should naturally shift and his bottom should hit the floor. When that happens, immediately use your clicker/marker word (“Yes” or the clicker) and release the treat. After a second or two say “Okay!” and encourage him to get up. If he gets up before you release him, start at the beginning again by luring back into the sit position. Release him more quickly this time, then keep practicing to work up to longer using the “stay” exercise.
Step Three: Repeat it
Repeat until you get a sit 10 times out of 10 times, several trials in a row. When your dog starts to go into the sit very quickly, it is time to start using the command and removing the food/treat lure.
Step Four: Cue
Now that your dog knows what you want him to do with his body, you can add the verbal cue “sit”. Start by giving the verbal cue “sit,” wait for one full second and then lure the sit like you have been with your hand. Continue to lure with your hand that previously held the treat but this time, reward with the opposite hand. Do not show the dog that you’re holding the treat in your other hand.
Continue to use the marker either “yes!” or click and reward. After a few successful trials, start to fade away the use of your hand to lure and just use the verbal cue “sit.”
Step Five: Practice!
Continue to practice and slowly remove the treats by only treating for the best 9 out of 10 trials, then the best 7 out of 10 trials, continuing until you treat only for the best or fastest trials.
Try hard to remember not to repeat the “sit” command. Just say it once, pause, and lure. When possible, take the food out of your hand and “show” your dog with an empty hand signal. Practice sits everywhere and throughout the day. Work always at your pup’s level.