Sit/Stay Obedience Training.

Two Methods of Training- Sit/ Stay Introduction:

The sit/stay is one of the most basic obedience behaviors you can train your dog to do. It is one of the first things most people teach their puppy. By teaching sit, in the early weeks of your dog’s life, you can lay the proper foundation for future training. At the same time by training obedience basic you teach you pup how to learn. Experts say that a canine learns how to learn the most effectively between weaning and 4 to 5 months of age.
The sit/stay is covered on Von Meistern, because the sit/stay is a foundation training tool. I will present two different ways of training the sit/stay. The first is an “Old School” method of training. The second method is based on Canine Learning Theory. Canine Learning Theory is explained on my blog post:
Why is it called sit/stay? Because telling a dog to stay after a sit command is redundant. If they are properly trained to sit, they will stay sitting until released. It is as simple as that.
Why put two different ways of training the same thing on this site? I would like the reader to have the option as to which method they want to use. Or you can cherry pick the parts you think will do the best for your situation.

Old School Method:
You Puppy is between 8 weeks and? The younger you start the better to promote the dog’s ability to learn. However, the pup’s attention span will be extremely short, and much patience is required. It is critical to make this training a positive experience. You will set the tone for all future training.
You will need a properly fitted collar. Snug enough that it won’t slip off, but not so tight it’s uncomfortable. You will need a short lead attached to the collar. Put some easily swallowed treats in an accessible pocket. I used Bil Jac liver treats because they are easy for puppies to eat, and dogs love them.
Important: keep the lessons short – five minutes max for the youngest puppies. Do several five-minute lessons each day. for older puppy’s ten minutes max.
Start by putting one hand (the one with the lead) on the puppy’s chest and the other on the back just in front of the hips. Use your thumb and first finger to make a semi-circle with the back hand. There are pressure points that you can take advantage of on the back in front of the hips. By pointing the thumb and finger down you can apply pressure and control sideways movement. See Picture.

Say “sit” and push gently but firmly down. After the puppy sits a few seconds praise and treat. Of course, this will excite the puppy so let the puppy stand. All you want to do at this point is build the association between the command word and the action. The praise and treats are reinforcers of the association. Repeat for five minutes or less and quit. Do several lessons the first day.

Once the puppy starts to sit on command without pressure from your hand, increase the time the puppy remains sitting. Remember young puppies have very short attention spans so go slow. If the puppy gets up on its own make it sit back down for a several seconds and then release it. The best way to release a dog from any command is to touch the top of its head and say ok or whatever release command you want. The important thing is to touch the head. Teaching sit/stay is the perfect time to begin this. Train the dog to only move when released by the head touch. If the pup moves before the head touch, make the pup sit, touch the head and give the release command.
Once the pup has the verbal command down, you can introduce a visual cue for the command. I use an arm movement. I start with my arm in an upright position like I’m taking an oath. I then make a pushing down motion with hand and arm as I give the command. If you practice this with your dog, you will be able to tell you dog to sit at a distance without saying a word.
As the pup grows and matures, increase the amount of time the pup has to stay sitting. Keep the time realistic for the maturity of the puppy. When you feel that the puppy is ready have it sit for 30 to 60 seconds. When it can do 60 seconds reliably go for 90 seconds, etc. Also slowly start moving further away from the pup as it sits. If it gets up to come to you put it back in the same spot and repeat command.
Over time you should be able to move 40 or 50 yards away without the pup moving. Be sure to keep your full attention on the dog as it is sitting, that seems to help the dog focus on its task, which of course is to stay put.
I haven’t covered integrating the E-collar in this section. The same basic principles apply for using the E-collar to teach extended time and distance sit/stay obedience that were covered in the teaching the Here command. 1. Give command. 2. Apply E-collar Stimulus,   3. Turn off E-collar stimulus when the pup complies.  Once the pup has that down pat, and when extended time and distance sit/stay is trained, the E-collar is a great tool to enforce compliance.


Always give lots of praise and treat often. Keep the training as fun as possible. Always end on a successful exercise. If you are having trouble, go back to something the pup does well and do that. If you stay cool, calm, and collected your pup will look forward to the training sessions. This will help tremendously when more difficult behaviors are taught.

Canine Learning Theory Method:  

You need to have a training clicker for this method and a lot of treats.
Start out conditioning the puppy to the sound of the clicker. Do this by holding the puppy in your lap. Feed it treats and click after each treat is given. Do this one after another for five minutes. Take a break and do five more minutes of click and treat. Three sessions should be enough to create an association in the pups mind between the reward and the click.
Now comes the hard part because it takes a lot of patience. Have your clicker ready and some treats. Put your puppy in a smaller room or fenced in area. Wait until the pup sits on its own. When it does click and treat. Be sure to click as the puppy sits not after it sits. Each time the puppy sits on its own click and treat. Once the pup figures out it gets a reward for sitting, it will sit and sit and sit. Now introduce the ‘sit” command.
Give the sit command, click as it sits. Treat when the dog sits. If it doesn’t sit immediately wait until it does to click and treat. Say “sit” as the pup rear heads for the floor. You are building associations in the dogs mind between the command, the action, the click, and the treat. Keep repeating the process of command, click, and treat.
The idea is to strongly condition the pup to the positive association between the command and the treat that a high level of compliance is created. Also that retraining won’t be necessary in the future. Sometimes using “old school methods” of training combined with a long layoff from required compliance results in a need for retraining.
Once the dog will reliably sit on command move on the next step. The next step is to teach stay. Using canine learning theory methods requires stay to be taught as a separate exercise.
Again you will need a clicker a lot of treats, and patience. Give the sit command and click but don’t treat every time. In this phase just randomly treat. Do this for a few sessions. Dogs tend to try harder to please when randomly rewarded. They can’t be sure when the reward is coming, just that it is coming so they stay more focused on getting the reward.
Next give the sit command and click, wait a couple of seconds give the stay command, click and treat. But only if the pup remained sitting before the click and treat. Extend out the time the dog has to stay sitting, before it’s rewarded with a click and treat. Anytime the pup gets up before being released command “sit” and click.
Eventually the pup will get the picture that it must stay sitting to get the second click, and most importantly the treat. It can be a tedious process but one that can pay off. It forces the dog to think about what behavior gets it the reward. Once the dog makes the connection between the behavior and the reward, its learned the command. Continue with some short reinforcing lessons and randomly treat to cement the connection.

I really like the concept of using the canine learning theory methods to teach basic obedience. However for me the Old School method is more practical. This is because I have a job that requires long hours and a family. So the training time is limited and I have to get the fastest results possible. So what I have done is combine the two methods together to teach sit/stay. The bottom line: always modify and use the methods so they work best for you!