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How to Teach a Dog to Sit Pretty: 8 Vet-Approved Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on July 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Australian Shepherd dog sit pretty

How to Teach a Dog to Sit Pretty: 8 Vet-Approved Tips

VET APPROVED

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

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.

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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.

clicker training a border collie dog
Image by: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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.

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The 8 Tips to Teach Your Dog to Sit Pretty

1. Sit!

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.

person training dog outdoors
Image by: Valeria Boltneva, Pexels

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 their 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 chosen command, click, and treat them with lots and lots of praise!

woman giving a treat to her dog outdoors
Image by: Yaroslav Shuraev, Pexels

4. Repeat

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.

Bird dog training in the field
Image by: John Tuesday, Unsplash

6. Practice

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.


7. Test

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.

owner teaching dog a high five
Image by: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

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!

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03 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.

woman playing with her dalmatian dog with a ring toy
Image by: Stenko Vlad, Shutterstock

2. Be Consistent

Use the same tone and words for each session, and train them where they’re most comfortable.


3. Take Regular Breaks

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 right position.

man training a dog
Image by: Pixabay

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!

Woman holding dog's paw
Image by: Vlada Karpovich, Pixabay

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, after all. Make sure that if training stops being fun for whatever reason, stop, take a break, and revisit it later.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-01-TESTHow 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.

  • Get your treats or positive motivators ready, and ensure you and your dog are in a quiet place with no distractions.
  • Get your dog’s attention, show them the clicker, and immediately give them a treat. Again, timing is important here as your dog will associate the clicking noise with the positive action of the treat following.
  • Do this a few more times, then ask your dog to perform a trick they know. For example, ask them to sit, then use the clicker to click and reward.
  • Test the clicker response in several locations.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-01-TESTFinal Thoughts

Sitting pretty is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and 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.

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Featured Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

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