My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

The Simple Sit


There are many ways to “tell” a dog what you want him to do. This method uses a light leash pressure rather than a word or a hand touch. Why do this?

Many reasons, here are a few: When you’re out and about, you may be dressed up or not inclined to bend over and handle your wet, muddy dog. When speaking to a friend or neighbor, you may not want to interrupt the conversation to manage your dog. With the Simple Sit you can quietly and effectively train while continuing a conversation. It is also a useful tool for solving problems. If your dog jumps, the light Simple Sit cue can remind him to sit without debate or difficultly.

How to Train the Simple Sit

Move your dog’s collar up behind her ears
Hold the lead with very little slack– clip should just hang down when slack
Stand still with your dog next to you and apply GENTLE upward pressure on the leash.
Hold this pressure steady – now pause.
If you need to at first, say “Sit”
IMMEDIATELY release the leash pressure by lowering your hand and smile/praise/treat when dog sits.

Common Difficulties

Dog moves around and doesn’t sit
Be sure you are standing still and try to keep the pressure steady, not pulsing or jiggling. If it releases every time your dog moves, then moving is being rewarded. If you need to help your dog by saying, “Sit” or touching him, that’s okay. Help him, just fade those things as your dog’s understanding grows.

Dog fights the leash pressure
You are probably using too much pressure. Easy does it. A dog can feel a fly land on his ear; we are cuing him, not correcting him. So use very light pressure and release the pressure the moment your dog lowers into a sit.

Dog keeps getting up
Make sure you’re releasing the pressure when he is sitting. Reapply easy pressure immediately any time he gets up.

Most Common Owner Errors?

Not releasing leash pressure quickly enough.
Using too much pressure as the signal to sit.
Pulsing the pressure instead of holding nice, soft, steady pressure.
Giving up too soon.
Being worried that helping the dog get it right will confuse things. Not at all. We’re very pro helping your dog! (and your dog will be, too.)

How and When to Use the Simple Sit

When dealing with distractions, shorten leash –- have dog sit, and if dog gets up, apply gentle upward pressure again, then release that pressure when dog sits.
If you want your dog to greet someone, cue him to sit using leash pressure and when calm, say, “Say Hello,” and go greet.
Use it when going in and out of doors, taking him out of his crate, leaving the car, anywhere where you’d like him to stay controlled while you get organized, lock up, scan the area to see what/who is around.


By Sarah Wilson,

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