A recent study by The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) discovered that 96% of the dogs surrendered to animal shelters had not received any obedience training. What this statistic boils down to is a lack of communication. Training doesn’t mean classes or dog shows or tedious exercises. If people take 5 minutes to teach a puppy to sit, training happens and communication occurs between the dog and owner. Teaching the sit command is absolutely the most important thing you can do to improve the relationship you have with your dog. It doesn’t matter how old your dog is; he can learn to sit. And every time you give the command, you quietly, humanely, and positively establish your leadership over the dog. For this reason, many behavior problems can be helped or even solved if your dog knows the sit command. For example, here’s an obvious one: your dog cannot jump if it is sitting down.
If you have a small puppy, teaching him to sit is easy thanks to natural puppy curiosity. Keep your training sessions extremely short (5 minutes) and always keep it happy. Say your puppy’s name and "sit" and hold your hand above the puppy’s head. When you say "sit" move your hand slightly behind the puppy’s head. The puppy will raise its head to watch your hand and his rear end will lower. When the puppy’s rear begins to go down, say "good sit." Repeat 3 or 4 times or less if the pup loses interest. After a number of repetitions, the pup will start sitting without the hand signal.
Teaching an older dog to sit is almost as easy as teaching a puppy. The only difference is that the dog is larger and may need a little more encouragement to put his rear on the ground. The principle is the same however. If the head goes up, the rear goes down. Depending on your dog, the puppy technique may work. If he won’t focus on you, leash your dog and get the dog’s attention, so he is looking up at you. Say the dog’s name and "sit" and pull up on the leash and push down on the rump with your other hand. As he starts to sit, say "good sit." Don’t pet him until he sits all the way. Then pet him briefly and remain still for a few seconds. Then say "okay" or "free" to release him from the sit. Teaching your dog when to stop sitting is almost as important as the sit itself. Gradually make the sits longer, try 20 seconds up to a minute until the dog really gets that sitting means "sit until I say it’s okay not to anymore." Taking this 5 minutes a day to teach your dog this one simple command can completely change your relationship with your dog and save you a lot of heartbreak and anguish in the long run.