How to Train a Terrier to Sit

Easy
2-14 Days
General

Introduction

Your new Terrier, Buddy is a little tear away. He’s excitable and fun and you cannot wait for all the great times you’ll share in the future. But there’s one thing troubling you. Buddy just won’t listen to what you have to say. At the moment you have no way of controlling his behavior. If he’s jumping up, you can’t stop him and if he’s in your way, you can’t get him out of it. Therefore, you need to start with some training basics to help your life get a little easier.

‘Sit’ is the first command most dogs learn as it is an easy one for them to pick up and it's useful for controlling their behavior. Use these methods to teach Buddy to sit when told to and you’ll be on your way to perfect puppy behavior. Soon he will be listening to your every word, totally obedient - so that you don’t have to worry.

Defining Tasks

'Sit' is one of the easiest commands to teach your dog. It’s a very simple action for them to understand and you will regularly use it throughout their lifetime, meaning it is reinforced all the time. As well as being easy, it’s also incredibly useful. If you can get your dog to sit on command it will help you control their behavior in a whole host of situations.

‘Sit’ is a great prompt word to use because it is short and sharp. While humans can differentiate a number of different sounds, dogs would definitely struggle to understand a full sentence, so the more easily defined the better.

For a puppy, teaching 'sit' can take anywhere from a couple of days to 10 days to complete. It depends how rigorous a training session you plan. These methods can also be used to teach adult dogs; however, it may require a little more patience. Terriers tend to be very intelligent and should pick this up pretty quickly.

Getting Started

Like most training programs, one of the first things you’ll need are some tasty treats. While not all dog owners will want to use treats, they are a great place to start, especially with puppies who can become distracted from training easily. Once you’ve got the hang of training using treats, you can use other tactics such as a clicker, but first, you need to make the association between the reward and the click – so you’ll still need some yummy bites to start with.

Police dogs use toys, such as tennis balls, as a reward for their training and you can easily do the same with your Terrier. Use a specific toy as their reward and don’t let them have it unless they have completed the correct behavior. Using the same toy for training and for fun can confuse the process. 

The Treat Lure Method

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Step
1
Select your environment
It’s always best to start training in a quiet environment inside the home. Puppies can become easily distracted, so make sure there is nothing around them that could capture their attention. Make sure all family members are calm and quiet and not holding toys that will distract the dog.
Step
2
Grab your treats
Terriers are small dogs, even as adults, therefore it’s important to select a small treat for them. You will be rewarding them very frequently to begin with so you don’t want to give them large portions, which could cause them to gain weight.
Step
3
Capture their attention
Hold the treat in front their face to capture their attention. If it’s a smelly treat, even better!
Step
4
Coax into position
Lift the treat over the back of the dog's head. This should cause them to look upwards and they should automatically park their rear on the ground. Don’t lift it too high up, as this may cause them to jump, instead you want it to be just out of reach.
Step
5
Say the command 'sit'
For this method you will establish the sitting position before the command word. This helps them learn the action first and then you add a cue word. You can start the first couple of times by not using a command to get the hang of the behavior and then add ‘sit’ when you are ready. When you’re ready to use it, say ‘sit’ as soon as their rear hits the floor.
Step
6
Reward
Immediately reward them with the treat. This will eventually cause them to make a connection between the command ‘sit’, the action, and the sitting position. Repeat this immediately for around 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
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The Physical Coaxing Method

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Step
1
Choose your reward
For this method, we will use a toy as a reward. This is a great option if you’re wanting to stay clear of using treats for every training process. Puppies are easily distracted, so make sure there is no food around that will grab their attention even more.
Step
2
Capture their attention
Use the toy to get them to look and listen to you. Once they are attentive, you can begin training.
Step
3
Use the command word 'sit'
Firmly use the command word ‘sit’. Remember that intonation is important here - not too aggressively, but not too light-hearted.
Step
4
Physically coax into position
Lift the toy up above their head and push their rear down to the ground at the same time. Do this gently, it should be a coaxing rather than forcing.
Step
5
Reward
Immediately let them have their toy as a reward for sitting. Make sure you give lots of verbal and physical praise as well. This will reinforce the positive connection between the command and behavior.
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The Clicker Method

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Step
1
Choose your location
For this method it’s a good idea to position your Terrier with their back to a wall. This is because you have both hands in use with a clicker and a treat, therefore you cannot use a spare hand to gently push their rear down to the ground if they need help getting into position. A wall behind them means they cannot reverse, so are more likely to naturally fall into a sit.
Step
2
Grab a treat
You can use a food treat or a toy for this method. Even though you are using the clicker, you’ll still need something to capture their attention. A clicker is more like a signal that they have completed the correct behavior and is only learned through practice. So initially, you’ll still need a reward.
Step
3
Use the command 'sit'
Capture their attention and use the command ‘sit’. This is your cue so that in the future you can remove the clicker and reward, but still obtain the behavior you're looking for.
Step
4
Coax into position
Lift the treat up and above the dog's head slightly. If they jump, that is okay, but do not let them have the treat. Wait until they are in the sitting position - keep trying until you get there.
Step
5
Click and reward
As soon as they are in the correct position, click the clicker as a signal that the correct behavior has been completed. Simultaneously give your Terrier the treat they have been working hard for! Make sure to give them lots of physical and verbal praise as well. Repeat in 10-minute intervals.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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