Teaching your puppy how to sit is a popular, good first lesson to teach your puppy. Consider yourself lucky, it’s one that most puppies pick up quite quickly…let’s hope yours too. But no worries if not! 

In this article we’ll be showing you how to teach your puppy to sit, why you should teach your puppy to sit in the first place, and how to combine it with teaching your puppy to stay. We’ve sprinkled some extra tips in there for you as well.


Why is it important to teach your puppy to sit?

What a good question, glad you asked. By learning how to teach a puppy to sit, you’re essentially making things a whole lot easier for them as well as yourself. We’re sure your puppy is already charming, but being able to sit will fully paint the picture of a well-behaved dog in the human world. It will prevent kibble spilling everywhere as you put their bowl down for a meal, keep your guests’ clothes clean as they greet them to say hello and keep them off the road before you cross together. It will make you look great when you’re sitting together at the pub. Had to be said.

dog sat on wooden floor looking up at camera
Photo by Margo Brodowicz on Unsplash

How to teach your puppy to sit in 4 easy steps

Wonderful! You’ve made it to the 4 steps that will reveal all the secrets you want to know for how to teach a puppy to sit. Aren’t you happy? 

In these steps, we’ll look at the two things that will truly make the lesson click – the marker word and cue word. You’ll also learn where to put your hand as well as the treats (be prepared to give them plenty!) so we can make sure that your puppy learns to stick that bum to the floor faster than you know it. There may be ups and downs, but you’ll soon see that your skills to teach your puppy how to sit are better than you imagine. Doesn’t that sound great?

  1. Introduce a marker word

First step for how to train a puppy to sit is to introduce a word that tells your puppy they’ve done something right – you know, one we wish we’d hear more of at work. Something short like ‘good job’, ‘yes’ or ‘super’ will work well. Every time your puppy gets it right, follow up with a yummy food reward to make the lesson really stick. Nobody forgets a good treat. Check out some of the best puppy treats out there with our article.

  1. Practice having a bum on the floor

Now that your puppy knows that your marker word earns them a good treat, it’s time to put it to use. Place the treat close to their nose and slowly take it up to your waist. Their bum should plop on the floor and when they do, use your marker word and hand them a treat. Let’s repeat this another 5 times, a couple of times per day, for about a week.  

  1. Prepare to add a cue word 

The last thing you’ll do to teach your puppy to sit is adding the cue word ‘sit’…the magic word that will make the times you have muddy paw marks on your trousers become a distant memory. 

This time, instead of popping a treat on their nose, hold it at your waist with a closed hand. They’ll remember that last time they sat down they got a treat, so it’s likely they will do it again. Did they do it? Fantastic! Say your marker word.

  1. Add the cue word

Let’s go through the previous step again, but say ‘Sit’ before putting the treat by your waist. If they’ve done it, great! Repeat your marker word, and this time drop the treat on the floor so they have to stand to reach it. Good, that they’re standing, they’re ready to go for another practice round. 

Perhaps besides wanting to teach your puppy to sit, you may already be wanting to dip your toe into other basic lessons like crate training, alone training and sleep training. In other words, everything else that will make your and your puppy’s life a lot easier. Our article includes a weekly overview of everything you can teach your puppy, and other useful tips for how to be as efficient as you can. 

We all know how efficiency can go out the window these days, so it’s quite good help to be honest. 

The Zigzag puppy training app has many more good tips and advice that you’ll want to get hold of. If this lesson is already easy, just wait for the rest of the tips…you won’t know what hit you.  

owner teaching dog to sit
Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

Useful extra tips for teaching your puppy to sit successfully

  • Go for a bit of training after a meal or a trip to the loo. This will help keep them focused for slightly longer since they at least have two less things to worry about. We say slightly, since 5 minutes is already long for a puppy to concentrate on something. Our article gives you a great overview of the ideal puppy routine in a day – including the best times to sneak in training and play time.
  • If marker words aren’t your thing, clickers absolutely can be. Clicker training is brilliant because it’s a fast way of helping your puppy understand immediately that what they did at that exact time was right. You can read all about it in our article about puppy clicker training…it just might do the ‘click’. 

How to teach your puppy to sit and stay

How to teach a puppy to stay always goes well with teaching them how to sit; especially when you’re doing things like waiting to hop on a car, crossing a road with heavy traffic, or while they wait for you to pop in and out of Greggs.

This is how you do it. First, ask your puppy to sit exactly the same as you have (probably) done many times before. Before saying your marker word, count to 5 in your head and only then mark and reward them with a treat. Don’t forget to flash a smile while you’re counting!  Seeing you happy will help your puppy know that they’re doing alright. To them, if you’re happy, it means they’re doing something right.  

After you’ve practiced that a couple of times, let’s give it another go by adding the cue hand sign that means ‘wait’ or ‘stay’– a flat hand like a stop sign will do just fine. Now, take half step backward with one foot – and immediately return and reward your puppy. Great! Now you can try moving sideways. 

dog sitting whilst licking its nose
Photo by Shane Guymon on Unsplash

What to do if your puppy can’t sit

There’s a couple of reasons why your puppy may struggle to sit. Don’t worry, it’s not your teaching skills that are entirely to blame.

Breeds like Greyhounds can often find sitting quite difficult because they have a deep chest and such long beautiful legs. Same goes for other deep chested breeds like Whippets and Salukis. 

Sitting on a wet or cold, or maybe slippery floor? No thanks! Try putting a non-slip mat down or train your puppy on carpet so that they feel secure when sitting, and don’t go sliding around.

If your puppy still finds sitting uncomfortable, then we recommend you having a quick chat with your vet. 

Well there you have it! We hope that your journey on how to train a puppy to sit goes by untroubled. Go to our full obedience training guide to take it up a notch with other lessons like laying down, waiting, and walking nicely on a lead – your shoulder surely needs a rest after all those pulls. 

But let’s be real, if there are hiccups on the way, our puppy training experts will be more than happy to help you with them through the Zigzag app. Do you want to know more about how the Zigzag puppy training app works? Check it out, we’ll meet you there!