From clever dogs at home begging for treats and scraps to polished performances in the dog show ring, the sit pretty trick looks impressive. This trick can be easy for some dogs to master, and others can take more convincing, but teaching your dog this showstopping trick is always fun.
This article will show you have to prepare for the trick with a step-by-step guide and all the tips and tricks you need for your dog to master sitting pretty.
Preparation: What You’ll Need
We recommend a clicker since it is an effective tool for managing your dog’s expectations, but your dog needs to be conditioned to respond to the clicker first. Next, find out your dog’s motivator. Is it food, treats, or affection? Gather all the goodies and toys you need and ensure there are no distractions before you start.
Before You Start
Before you start training, set up your command word. You need to differentiate between “sit” and “sit pretty.” Sit pretty is also known as “beg.”
Being consistent with your command word is critical, as changing the word halfway through will only cause confusion. Finally, conduct your training in an environment where you both feel relaxed; this could be at home or the park.
The 8 Tips to Teach Your Dog to Sit Pretty
Ask your dog to “sit” and have your clicker ready when giving the command. Have your motivator ready and face your dog, ensuring they’re interested. When your dog sits, click immediately and use a treat or motivator. This will let your dog know the clicker is involved and to listen out for it.
2. Raise a Treat
Hold a treat just above their nose when your dog is still sitting. Then, slowly raise it into the air above their nose, watching for your dog’s feet to start rising off the ground.
As you raise it further, your dog should sit on their back legs, lifting its paws off the ground and stretching to reach the treat.
3. Click and Treat
As soon as your dog’s paws come off the ground and are balancing on their hind legs, give the sit pretty command, click, and treat with lots and lots of praise!
Repeat the third step, and continue clicking and treating each time the sit pretty command is given, and your dog raises their paws off the ground
5. Command Only
Once step four has been repeated a few times, give the sit pretty command and wait to see if your dog performs the trick. If they do, don’t click, but offer lots of praise, so they still know they’re doing the right thing.
Practice a few more times but don’t treat or give the motivator every time. It’s important to let your dog know they’re doing the right thing, but make sure they anticipate a treat and do not automatically assume they get one every time they do the trick. This helps to keep it fresh and keep your dog interested.
Now it’s time to test the command by mixing it with other tricks. Ask your dog to sit, lie down, etc. Then, use the sit pretty command in between and see if they can perform the trick from memory. If they do, reward them.
8. Field test
You can use the sit pretty command to check that your dog remembers it when you’re out and about. You can also use it randomly in the house, but give them a treat and loads of praise when they get it right. Congratulations, you’ve taught your dog to sit pretty!
The 8 Tips to Help You and Your Dog Master the Sit Pretty Command
1. Change Up the Reward.
If your dog is toy motivated, get them a new toy. If they’re treat-motivated, give them a different treat.
2. Be Consistent
Use the same tone and words for each session, and train them where they’re most comfortable.
3. Take Regular Breaks…
…and don’t overload your dog, as you can both become frustrated. Taking frequent breaks helps keep your dog’s attention, and some dogs learn slower than others.
4. Give Your Dog Support
Older dogs or dogs that aren’t as strong on their back legs may not be able to support themselves and hold themselves up for more than a second or two at first (particularly puppies or elderly dogs).
You can use your hands to support their front feet as they lift off the ground. They will gain strength in their back legs with repeated performances and eventually hold themselves up in the sit-pretty position.
5. Remember to Be Positive
Dogs can feel your emotions and will think they’ve done something wrong if you get upset. Never react with anger since it won’t help and can even confuse or scare your dog, making them hesitant to perform more tricks.
6. Keep it Short
Keeping sessions short and sweet can help keep your dog focused and the training fun.
7. Shape the Behavior
Once the sit pretty command is learned, you can incorporate add-ons, such as lifting their paws higher and teaching them to “hold ’em up” above their head!
8. Have Fun
Above all, have fun with your dog. Keep it light and enjoy bonding with your pup; training can be an excellent opportunity to bond and build trust. Make sure that if training stops being fun for whatever reason, stop, take a break, and revisit it later.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog
Using a clicker can be very useful in training and keeping a dog’s attention. Treats, attention, affection, and toys can all be rewards when clicker training, but you first need to associate the clicker with the positive result before using it in training. This can be done surprisingly quickly and only requires a few steps.
Sitting pretty is one of the oldest tricks in the book; it can increase the bond between dog and owner and improve strength and balance. Plus, it looks very impressive incorporated into a routine or expanded upon, such as dramatic “play dead” tricks. Sit pretty is worth teaching, but make sure you have fun doing it.
Featured Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock