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8 Tips for Teaching a Dog to Sit Pretty

Pug sitting pretty with a bow tie on

Sit Pretty is one of the most adorable tricks that you can teach your dog. Most dogs learn it with fun that allows even the greenest owners to teach this trick with utmost convenience. In this trick, your dog sits on his/her back legs and hind body. This sitting position fortifies your pup’s back, stomach, and rear leg muscles, making it a nice physical exercise. Read on to get some important tips for teaching a dog to sit pretty.

Buy Treats

Treats are crucial for training your canine companions. They urge your pets to follow the command of their owners/trainers. Therefore, using treats during the training process can help you lure your dog. Make sure to choose the favorite treats of your pooch and have them in sufficient quantity. This will allow you to be generous while rewarding them (just don’t overdo it).

Use the “Sit” Command

person with hand out telling shaggy dog to sit.

Your dog must know the standard sit command before going for the training of the ‘sit pretty’ trick. This is because this trick always starts from the normal sitting position. If your dog is already accustomed to the sit command, simply ask him to ‘sit!’. There is no need to reward him/her for this move if he/she is already trained to obey the sit command.

Reward the Paw Lift

Brindle bull dog with paw up to shake  a man's hand

Once the dog is in the sitting position, hold the treat closer to his/her nose. Don’t let your pup eat the treat (just sniff). Now, gradually lift your hand away from your dog until he/she lifts a paw from the ground. When he does that, offer him/her a treat as a reward.

Contrarily, if your dog jumps (or stands up) from the sitting position to get the treat, ask him/her to go back in the normal sitting position (without rewarding). This will give your pooch an impression that jumping or standing is a defying act.

When your pup has successfully lifted one paw, it’s time to go for the double paw lift. During this phase, you will make him/her lift both paws off the ground. This is exactly what you are trying to teach in the sit pretty trick.

Once again, you will start from the normal sitting position and slowly elevate the treat in your hand. As soon as one paw moves up in the air, move the treat a bit higher. The treat should be high enough for the dog to stretch his neck. While doing so, he/she will also lift the other paw. When that happens, reward your dog with the treat as a positive marker.  

Add a Verbal Cue

Man instructing Jack Russell Terrier with verbal and hand commands on wooded trail

Once the dog has completed the performance of the trick, you should add a verbal cue to it. The list of most common phrases include “sit pretty!”, “beg!”, or “paws in the air!”. However, you can also use your own cue for teaching a dog to sit pretty.

For doing that, start by calling out that verbal cue. After that, use the treat to lure your dog to perform the trick. Practice this a few dozen times and your dog will build a connotation between the cue and the performance.

Progress Slowly

Always remember that this trick consumes a lot of muscular power. Therefore, it’s important to let your dog progress slowly, especially in the beginning. For instance, your dog might only be able to lift his paws slightly or become shaky.

If you observe any ripple in your dog’s spine, slowly drop your hand down to allow the dog to settle on the ground. You should gradually increase the time for holding the gesture. Likewise, you should slowly increase the height to which your dog lifts the paw.

Keep Training Sessions Short

Person bent over talking to husky puppy on leash

This trick can be particularly tiring for your dog because it requires a lot of physical effort. Hence, it is critical to work within the limits in which your dog feels comfortable.

Training for long periods can lead to boredom and tiredness and as a result, your dog may lose focus. It is highly recommended to keep the training sessions shorter to keep the concentration (of your canine) intact. Wiki How suggests that a training session should not go beyond 15 minutes.    

Always End the Session on a High Note

Training should always feel like a fun activity rather than some relentless work. Therefore, you should always try to create a positive association between your dog and his/her training sessions. You can do that in several different ways.

For example, never shout at your pooch even if he/she disobeys you or is failing to perform well. Likewise, if your dog is looking bored, stop the training and try again later. Contrastingly, if your dog is obeying your commands, appreciate the good behavior to the fullest and reward him/her with treats.

Keep Practicing

Dog with paw up on human's hand

Practice leads to perfection and you must practice the sit pretty trick daily to get the best results. Once your dog is well attuned with the verbal cue, you can practice the trick without luring. In this case, you won’t need to reward your pup treats. Instead, you can appreciate the good work through affection and praise.

It is important to stop luring because the actual motive of the training is to make your dog perform the behavior with the command (not the treats). However, it requires a persistent effort from the owners to make their dogs perfect in this trick. 

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