How to Train Your Small Dog to Sit on Your Lap

How to Train Your Small Dog to Sit on Your Lap
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Fun training category iconFun

Introduction

Having a lap dog is only fun if you can actually train your dog to sit in your lap. Small dogs love being held and cuddled. However, they don't always know to jump in your lap, circle around to get comfortable, and lie down. Training your dog to sit in your lap can be a command you can teach your little guy to increase and improve the bond you two have together. Spending time with your small dog in your lap can improve your mood, calm your little guy down, and turn into an evening of cuddle fun. Training your little guy to greet you when you get home from a long day at work is one thing, but teaching him to cuddle and sit in your lap can turn your stressful day into a day filled with love and compassion. We own dogs for that unconditional love. Train your small dog to sit in your lap and give you just that. 

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Defining Tasks

Before you begin to train your small dog to sit in your lap, be sure you have a safe way for him to get up into your lap. For instance, if you're sitting on a couch and you want your little dog to come to the couch to sit in your lap, be sure you are offering him a safe way to get up onto your couch. Training your small dog to sit in your lap will be a matter of conditioning him to recognize how to get in your lap, when it is okay to be on your lap, and how to settle down while he's on your lap, so he's not constantly licking your face or running around across the couch instead of settling down. You can teach puppies and older small dogs to do this. Just be sure to keep them safe if they are on furniture.

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Getting Started

To prepare for training, put yourself in the same seat each time you ask your little dog to come sit in your lap. This could be a kitchen chair, an office chair, a couch, or even on the floor so your small dog does not have to do any acrobatics to get up to your lap. Be consistent with his training and offer lots of treats to your small dog, so he knows he's doing a job you expect him to do and doing it well.

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The From the Floor Method

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1

Treats

Be sure to have treats handy and close by but not where your small dog can get to them during training.

2

Sit

Sit on the floor with your legs criss- crossed. It might be easier for your small dog if you lay a blanket across your lap. This will give him a soft place to sit without falling through to the floor.

3

Call your dog

Call your small dog to you by using his name and patting the blanket in your lap.

4

Lap

When your small dog comes to you, show him a treat and encourage him to sit down on your lap. If necessary for the first few times, you can place the treat in your lap for your dog to see. If he needs help climbing up to your lap this first time, you can place him there.

5

Reward

As soon as your dog gets into your lap and sits, give him the treat.

6

Repeat

Remove your dog from your lap and repeat this several times. Over time, you can give the action a command such as ‘lap,’ so your dog knows when you say the command, he is to climb in your lap and sit. Be sure to keep giving him rewards each time he sits in your lap. This is what will condition him to remember the task.

The With a Partner Method

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1

Position

Have one person sit on the floor or in a safe place for your small dog to access and have the second person standing nearby with treats.

2

Command

Place your small dog in the lap of the person sitting and give it a command such as ‘lap.’

3

Treat

Walk a few steps away from the person in the seated position and the small dog sitting in their lap. Once you have separated from them, offer the dog a treat. This will force the dog to move off the lap and go to the person standing for the treat.

4

Repeat

You may need to take your dog to the person sitting a few times before he begins to go on his own. Repeat taking him to this lap using the command word, take a few steps away, and then offer the dog a reward for sitting in the lap.

5

Practice

Keep practicing with your small dog using the command to sit in your or your partner’s lap. This will take several times, but eventually, by repeating the command word and placing the dog in the lap, he will begin to understand the command means he should go sit in your lap. He will always expect a treat for this.

6

Without a partner

Once your small dog understands the command and begins to go sit in you or your partner’s lap without setting him there, try to ask your dog to sit in your lap without the partner. Sit in the same place and say the command. Once he obeys, offer him a treat.

7

More practice

Again, without a partner, place your dog on the floor and sit down. Use the command you’ve taught your small dog to ask him to come sit in your lap. If he obeys, be sure to give him a treat. If he doesn’t get it, repeat the steps above several more times until he is able to do this on his own without being placed in your lap.

The Treat Lure Method

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1

Sit

Place yourself in your favorite spot. Be sure, especially if you are sitting in furniture, your small dog can safely jump up to you or has pet stairs to access you.

2

Treat

Hold a treat up over your lap and call your small dog. This should get his attention and lure him up to you.

3

Sit

Once your little guy jumps into your lap, ask him to sit. When he is sitting, give him a treat.

4

Practice

Keep practicing this so your dog knows to sit in your lap when you ask him to. If he jumps in your lap if you do not ask, be sure to reward him anyway.

5

Repetitive training

The repetitive training of asking and rewarding will help his develop this new trick and improve your cuddle time together.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 01/24/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Carly

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Dachshund terrier

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8 Years

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Question

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My dog is so obsessed with licking my 15 year olds fingers and arms whenever he moves them my dog will growl at him

July 2, 2022

Carly's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, I would desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle for your son's safety and to interrupt the licking behavior, then I would work on building your dog's respect for your son gently through obedience command practice and structure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Check out the article I have linked below, and especially the Working and Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Finally, I would work on providing pup with some other mental outlets they can focus on, like a kong wobble or puzzle toys. I would consider hiring a behaviorist or trainer who specializes in behavior issues and has obsessive compulsive and possessiveness experience. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 4, 2022

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Jack

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Jack Russell Terrier mix a rescue

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5 Years

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When he is sitting in my lap he is constantly trying to get in my face or trying to put his head on my shoulder He will not sit still

Jan. 4, 2020

Jack's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Becky, Work on teaching pup a Down-Stay and tell pup to Down-Stay while they are in your lap. If pup get's up, make pup leave the area - getting off of you and whatever furniture you are sitting on as a natural consequence for not staying still. Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 7, 2020


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