Training Your Dog to Sit

Part II

As the name implies, luring is giving your dog an incentive to sit without forcing her. Sitting or not is still your dog's decision and this principle is key to clicker training philosophy.  

If you'd like to try luring, show your dog that you have a treat.  If your dog has not yet learned to take treats gently, hold the treat in your fist instead of your fingers.  

With your dog standing in front of you, place the treat a couple of inches above her nose.  Move the treat straight back towards the top of her head midway between her ears.  If she lifts her head back in an attempt to follow the treat, she will eventually need to sit to keep her balance. When her bottom touches the ground, click and give her the treat in your hand.

If instead of sitting, your dog tries to reach for the treat by going up on her hind legs or she simply starts backing up while still standing, neither response gets a treat.  You may be able to curb the latter tendency by doing the luring maneuver with your dog backed into the corner of a room.

If after several attempts with luring, your dog is still not sitting, take a break and come back to it later.  Your dog is learning and she may have to run through the gamut of what doesn't work before she hits upon what does. Just be ready to click and treat when she gets it right.

Once your dog is sitting on cue--even in the presence of distractions--and you have shaped the elements of her sit to your liking, you can dispense with the clicker and begin tapering the treats. The clicker is only used while you are training your dog to sit. Once she knows the command, you no longer need the clicker for that command.

It surprises some people to learn that rewards given on a variable schedule are actually more powerful reinforcers than a reward that's given every time.  So, when you are ready to begin tapering treats start mixing in other rewards like praise, affection, a ball tossed in her direction--whatever else she enjoys besides food.  

At first, give her a food treat every 3rd or 4th time she sits for you. Gradually, taper the treats until you give a food treat only occasionally.  

Chances are, once your dog has learned "sit" you'll be ready to teach another command like "down", "stay" or "come".  Whenever you are teaching something new, bring out the clicker and treat each correct response just as you did when initially training your dog to sit.  

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