How to Teach Your Dog to Sit Pretty in 6 Easy Steps

Sit Pretty is a trick that’s sure to warm anyone’s heart. Few sights are sweeter to behold than a playful pooch raising his two front paws as though to beg for your affections. What I enjoy most about teaching this trick is that almost every breed of dog can master it in a relatively short amount of time. Small breeds like the Toy Poodle are naturals, but even Rottweilers and Great Danes can pull this one off and make themselves look like giant plush toys in the process.

What it Looks Like

Your dog will sit straight up on his haunches with his front paws in the air. He’ll look as though he is begging.

Before You Begin

Fido should know both the Sit and Stay behaviors. If he doesn’t understand these cues, take some time to teach them first as it will make the trick training process move more smoothly. The only training tool you’ll require is a generous amount of Fido’s favorite treats, the softer and stinkier the rewards, the better

6 Steps to a Perfectly Pretty Sit

Step #1

As when schooling Fido in any new behavior, you’ll want to work in the quietest room of your home. The less distracting his environment, the better Fido will be able to concentrate on what you are trying to teach him.

Step #2

Take a moment to visualize what you want Fido to do: he needs to sit and rock back onto his haunches – this means he’s got to lean backward and balance himself upright. Always keep that image in your mind’s eye as you proceed.

Step #3

Fill your hand with treats and cue Fido to sit. Now take your treat-stuffed fingers and press them to Fido’s nose, slowly raise your hand up, back and over his head. You want Fido to raise his front paws off the ground (just for a nanosecond) when he does cheer “Yes!” and feed him several rewards while his front paws are still elevated. The placement of the reward is important; you only want to congratulate Fido when he is in the desired “Sit Pretty” position. If you reward him after he has already returned to a “normal sit” he will think that we are rewarding ‘that’ position. So, remember only reward Fido when he is in the “Sit Pretty” position, if he returns to a “normal sit” don’t scold him, simply say nothing, and stop feeding him. Fido will soon realize that he only gets the goodies when he keeps his front paws in the air.

Step #4

Repeat Step 3 until Fido can balance in the “Sit Pretty” position for a full second or two. You should be continually feeding him the entire time. Try to increase the duration that Fido can balance himself on his haunches but be careful not to raise your criteria too high too fast. This is a trick where rewarding tiny steps and successes at a time is crucial.

Step #5

Up until now your fist should be operating like a K9 Pez dispenser. You should be doling out treat after treat without fail so long as Fido is Sitting Pretty. However, Fido should seem quite comfortable balancing upright for a few seconds now, so you want to begin fading out the hand buffet and teaching Fido how to hold the Sit Pretty position on his own. Using your handful of treats, lure Fido back into position and cue him to Stay… a verbal cue is best. Next remove your treat hand for just a microsecond. If Fido can remain in the Sit Pretty pose, quickly reward him while he is still in position, release him from his stay and have a party.

Step #6

Continue working on Step 5, slowly increasing the duration that Fido can stay balancing on his haunches. At this point you do not expect Fido to hold this position on his own for more than a second or two – remember that this is a challenging (and not to forget unnatural) position for a dog to be in. Once Fido has mastered this amount of duration it is safe to say that he understands his cool new trick.

Pooch Pointers

A common challenge for most dogs is hesitancy to actually pursue the treat, which is being raised over their heads to lure them up. Many of our pets have been trained to always sit for a treat so the concept of now raising their paws up off the ground can be confusing. If Fido is simply gazing longingly upward at the treat above his head instead of going for it, you’ll need to entice him a little. Try shaking the treat to tease him, or even switching to a delicious reward like boiled chicken or liver -the doggie equivalent of a one-hundred-dollar bill. Remember to keep your training sessions short, end on a positive note and have fun.

Tara Baggerman, Trainer & Owner of Caliber Canines Positive Dog Training

Record Breaking Dogs

These may not necessarily be the current world leaders, but they are impressive.

Oldest Dog

An Australian Cattle-dog named Bluey, owned by Les hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia, was obtained as a puppy in 1910 and worked among cattle and sheep for nearly 20 years. He was put to sleep on November 14, 1939, at the age of 29 years and 5 months.

Smallest Dog

The smallest dog was a matchbox-sized Yorkshire terrier owned by Arthur Marples of Blackburn, England. This tiny creature, which died in 1945 at the age of nearly two years, stood 2½ inches tall at the shoulder and measured 3½ inches from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. It weighed only four ounces.

Largest Dog

The heaviest and longest dog recorded is Aicama Zorba of La-Susa (born September 26, 1981.), an Old English Mastiff owned by Chris Eraclides of London, England. In November 1989, Zorba was recorded as weighing 343 pounds, standing 37 inches at the shoulder, and measuring 8 feet, 3 inches long from nose to tail.

Tallest Dog

Shamgret Danzas was 42 inches tall (at the shoulder!) and weighed 238 pounds.

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