How to Train Your Basset Hound Dog to Sit

Easy
2-10 Days
General

Introduction

Your dog has an unusual habit for a Basset, in that he's very impulsive. This is more dangerous than it sounds because he's inclined to tank out of the front door when visitors call and on walks, he's poor at pausing curbside while you check for traffic. 

This wasn't too much of an issue when he was a puppy because you could physically restrain him. But now he's an adult, his low center of gravity and stocky build means he can easily tow you along behind, putting not just him, but you in danger. Now you find yourself getting tense on walks, in anticipation of having to shout at the dog to make him take notice. 

The other day things got so bad, a passer-by became involved and scathingly asked if your dog knew how to sit or not. This hurt at the time, but later you realized it was a perfectly valid question. If you could get the dog to sit, this would rein in his impulsiveness and get him focusing. All of which sounds simple enough, but how to make it happen? 

Defining Tasks

Basset hounds being low to the ground, it's sometimes difficult to tell whether they are sitting or not. But this is no excuse for not learning the 'sit' command. The 'sit' is a basic command which requires the dog to drop to a sitting position on request. 

Although a simple action, this gives you immediate control over the dog as it keeps him in one place. This can mean the difference between him running out onto the road or staying safe at your side. 

The 'sit' command is not difficult to teach, but does require patience and repetition. Keep your training sessions short, but repeat them throughout the day. Any training should always be fun, so be lavish with praise and keep your voice excited and happy. Be sure to encourage the dog by rewarding his success, and if he doesn't do so well, don't worry, there's always next time. 

Getting Started

Teaching 'sit' is one of those commands that requires next to no equipment because it's all about you getting the dog's attention. Very simply, all you need is: 

  •  A distraction-free room
  • A handful of tasty bite-sized treats
  • A pouch or bag in which to keep the rewards handy
  • Time and patience.

That's it! 

The Patient Wait Method

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Step
1
Understand the idea
When a dog figures out for himself what to do to earn a reward, this makes for good training. This method relies on letting the dog know you have a treat and then waiting for him to offer a sit. Then, and only then, do you give him the reward. Repeat this frequently and add a cue, and the dog will 'sit' as fast as you can say the word.
Step
2
A quiet room
Do this training in a quiet room that is free from distractions. You want the dog to be focused on you and thinking through the problem, rather than sniffing a favorite toy and ignoring the treat.
Step
3
Show the treat
Let your hound see you have a treat in your fist but don't let him have it. He'll fuss around you, perhaps pawing your legs, whining, or jumping up. Ignore this. Eventually, he will sit while he has a think about what other tactics he can use to get your attention.
Step
4
Reward the 'sit'
As soon as his butt hits the ground say "Good boy" in a happy voice and praise him. Give him the treat. Keep practicing this until it becomes second nature for the dog to sit when he sees your hand curled round a treat.
Step
5
Add a cue word
Eventually the dog works out that sitting earns him a treat. Now is the time to add you cue word, such as "Sit", so that the dog has a way of recognizing which activity you want him to do in the future. Keep practising and gradually phase out the treats, by skipping a reward every third or fourth sit, and only rewarding every other sit.
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The Lure With a Treat Method

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Step
1
Understand the idea
Once again you will reward the dog when he sits, but in this method rather than wait for the dog to offer a sit you speed things up by luring him into a sitting position using a treat.
Step
2
Get the dog's attention
Hold a smelly treat in front of your dog's nose, but don't allow him to eat it. Make sure you have his attention focused on the treat.
Step
3
Move the treat
Now move the treat in a low arc, over the dog's back. Keep the treat close to the dog so that he has to move his head and body to follow it. When you move the treat correctly, the dog's rear will automatically drop to the ground.
Step
4
Praise and reward
The moment the dog sits, make a big fuss of him and give the treat. Now practice. Repeat this enough times and the dog will start to anticipate what he needs to do and drop into a sit before you finish moving the treat.
Step
5
Add a cue word
Once the dog is anticipating what he has to do and offers a sit, start adding your cue word. In this case, say "Sit" as his butt hits the ground. Do this a few times so he understands what you want him to do, and then start saying "Sit" ahead of moving the treat. In an effort to earn the treat, he should offer a sit. Gradually phase out the treat, by not rewarding every sit, but reward them at random so he keeps working hard.
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The Do's and Don'ts Method

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Step
1
Don't: Put pressure on the dog's back
Bassett hounds have a long spine and are prone to disc disease. There is never a place for physically forcing a dog into a sitting position, but even more so with a Bassett. He will learn when you use one of the two methods listed above, so there is no need to force his butt down.
Step
2
Do: Make the dog wait
If the dog sits but immediately pops back up again, then make him wait before giving the treat. This helps him learn that he needs to stay seated to get the treat. If he does break the sit, say "Uh oh" in a disappointed voice, so that he understands this was not the right thing to do.
Step
3
Don't: Think he won't learn
If your dog sniffs at the treat and turns away as if he couldn't care less, you haven't got an untrainable dog, you just haven't found the tasty treat he is prepared to work for. Experiment with different treats such as cheese, sausage, steak, or chicken in order to whet his appetite and focus the mind.
Step
4
Do: Minimize distractions
Start your training in a room with few distractions. If there are toys, people, or even the TV competing for the dog's attention then the training becomes more difficult.
Step
5
Do: Train at every opportunity
Little and often is the best way to teach a dog. Make use of natural opportunities such as meal times or having his leash put on, to make the dog sit. Only when he sits does he get the reward of his supper or a walk.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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