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Basic Commands – Sit and Release

 Sit and Release Header

One of the most basic commands you can teach your dog is to sit.  Not only is it the foundation for more advanced commands, but it can be used in a variety of private and public situations.  For example, you can teach your dog or puppy to sit when greeting people.  This is much better that having your dog jump on them, which is what the untrained dog will do.  It is a useful command as well when your dog is underfoot and potentially in the way (like when you’re making dinner), or when you want to put a leash on him.  As a dog owner, you will want to encourage your dog to sit by making him following the command for anything he wants.  Whether he wants dinner, treats, toys, or to be petted, have him follow the sit command first.  This sets up rules of behavior and structure that your dog can apply to other situations.


There are two primary methods of training your dog to sit.  The first one is to have him near you on a leash.  Show your dog a treatGrover Sitting Picture right in front of his nose.  Give the command “Grover, sit!”  Then move the treat over your dog’s head to his hindquarters.  As you do so, your dog’s head should track the treat, which will force his hindquarters down.  Before you know it, your dog should be sitting.  If he is sitting, praise him lavishly and give him the treat.


Now, the problem with the first method is that sometimes the dog will spin around in an effort to get the treat.  If this happens, put the treat away.  Place one of your hands on your dog’s chest, right below the neck.  Give the command “Grover, Sit!”  Gently apply upwards pressure on your dog’s chest with the one hand while the other slides downwards on his back towards his hips.  Almost like a teeter-totter, this will gently put your dog into a sitting position.  When he does so, praise him again in a higher than normal voice. 


The release command works hand in hand with the sit command.  It is a very important command as you need to let your puppy or dog know when it’s OK to get up from the sitting position.  The fact of the matter is that it is very easy to train your dog to sit.  It is much harder to train your dog to STAY sitting.  This is why the release command is so critical.


Most people use “OK” as their release command.  This is fine, but your will want to add a physical signal as well.  If you only train your dog with a verbal “OK”, there is a possibility he will release while you are engaged in a casual conversation.  Anyway, here’s how you train your dog to understand the release command.


With your dog or puppy sitting beside you, pat him on the shoulders and say “Grover, OK”.  Lift your hand up and bounce a little yourself.  Your dog may get a little excited and will bounce up too.  If this fails to work, pat him on the shoulder, give him the “Grover, OK” command, and then gently pull his leash upwards.  Your dog should be able to figure out what you mean pretty easily.


Good luck in your training!


- Grover


PS - If you feel like you need more information on how to train your dog, you should check out theClick here to learn more about Dove's program dog training program that Dove Cresswell has put together.  Dove is a professional dog trainer, training dogs for film and television in Hollywood North (Vancouver).  Her program uses online videos, so it is very easy to follow.  To learn more, click here or on the picture to the right.