Jump to section
Buster is your new best friend. He’s playful, excitable, and a real bundle of love. He wants to be near you every time you sit down, but he just cannot get comfy! Sometimes he will lay next to you when you want to cuddle him, and sometimes he will just pad around on your lap without settling. You need to train him how to sit on your lap.
Once you’ve completed this simple lesson, you’ll both be able to snuggle up close and catch up on the latest episodes of the new series everyone has been talking about. A little effort goes a long way, especially as puppies are like little sponges, soaking up new behaviors all the time.
The command is very simple – it’s just ‘sit’. Either your pup is so young, he hasn’t quite learned this one yet, or he just doesn’t seem to realize that if he’s on your lap, he needs to get comfy! Either way, you can use the same training methods, but the time it will take will be shorter if he’s already heard the command before. For pups who already know how to sit, this could take just a couple of hours! For those that haven’t quite got the hang of it yet, you’ll have it in just a matter of days.
You can use these methods for adult dogs too. But just be aware that issuing new commands to older dogs takes a lot more patience. Their brains aren’t as open to new information as puppies, so it will take longer to train.
So what will you need?
In order to get started, you’ll need a few tasty treats to hand. All dogs love food, so this will act as an incentive and a reward for the correct behavior. Just look at how much Buster’s tail wags when he knows he’s getting food!
The nature of this task means you’ll probably be training him at home. This is a great setting because you can ensure there are no distractions. Puppies are curious about new sights and smells and you want him to focus. So, clear the room of any new friends, and make sure it’s just you and your pup.
The difficulty with this command is that you tend to be on the same height level as your dog. Being higher up usually puts you in a position of power, and makes your dog understand you’re the Alpha. It might take a little more coaxing, and a slightly firmer tone of voice in order to make sure he listens and understands you’re not playing.
Let’s jump right in!
The Treat 'Sit' Method
Take a seat
Sit down on the couch and get comfy. If you aren't comfortable, you can't expect your pup to be either.
Hold a treat up
Call the pup's name to get their attention and hold up the treat. This should have them running over to you to find out how they can get it!
Pat your lap
If he's not already there, pat your lap to indicate where you would like your dog to be.
Issue the command
Once he's there, issue the command 'sit' firmly. He may be jumping up at your trying to get the treat. But stay firm, making sure he is listening, keeping that treat just out of eating distance.
Raise the treat over the head
If your pup has practiced this before, he may sit already at this command. If he doesn't understand, move the treat over the back of his head, while simultaneously guiding his little rear down into a sitting position.
As soon as he is in the correct position, let him have the treat as his reward! Make sure to give him lots of verbal and physical praise too, this will reinforce the behavior.
The Leash Method
Secure him to a leash
If he's particularly excitable, your puppy may not want to listen to you when you're sitting down and not in a high position of power. The leash, especially a short training leash, is great for helping them understand they are in learning mode - and they need to listen.
Show the goods!
Make him visibly aware of the treat in your hand so he's listening intently. Walk over to the couch and take a seat.
Call him up
Call him up to the couch using his name. If he's really tiny, he may need a helping hand!
Issue the command
Once he's on your lap, issue the command 'sit' firmly. He should be listening to you, trying to work out how to get the goods. If he is distracted, try to get his attention again with the food morsel. If he hasn't quite got the hang of sitting yet, move the food over his head, causing him to look upwards. Press down on his rear end lightly until he is in a sitting position.
Let him have it! He will associate this behavior with positive emotions, and will want to replicate it in the future.
The Favorite Toy Method
Grab his favorite toy
All puppies need some incentive to get them to learn. They are far too easily distracted by new sounds and smells, so you'll want to choose something which will grab their attention, and keep it!
Take a seat
Sit down comfortably on your couch or floor. Call his name, and show him the toy. Hopefully he will come running over to play.
Pat your lap and issue the command
Pat your lap to encourage him to stand there. Once he is in position, issue the command 'sit'. Ensure you hold the toy away from him at this point. You don't want him to be rewarded before he has completed the task.
Move the toy into position
Move the toy over the back of his head to lure him into in a sitting position.
Once his rear has hit your lap, immediately give him the toy as a reward. Give verbal praise to reinforce the positive behavior.
By Olivia Draper
Published: 03/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021