By Dennis Fisher.


This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different  dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects.  All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites.   Visit the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or  if you interested in a breed   other than German Shepherd Dogs


 The sit is of course the easiest training exercise for any dog and you can start  with food when the pup is very young.   

It’s very easy to encourage the pup to sit by holding a tasty tidbit , not his regular food, in front of this nose and only rewarding him when he sits.

In a very short time the pup knows exactly what to do.  Immediately you give the command the pup will sit in anticipation of food.

The process is a little more complicated  when it is on leash and you want it to sit immediately you come to a halt. 

 You can, if you wish, continue with the food reward method.  It can be a useful method of teaching a perfectly straight sit, as is required in obedience competitions.

While the dog is on leash and you come to a halt, you can hold a  small piece of food directly above the dog’s nose, as you did when it was a pup and encourage it to sit  in this way. 

 If the sit is not perfectly straight you can encourage the dog to sit straight by only rewarding when the sit is perfect.

This method of  teaching the sit can work very well indeed and you can get the dog to sit very quickly in this way.

 Many trainers however, prefer the more orthodox and old-fashioned method of training to sit.  This is a easy and very reliable way to teach the dog to sit.  It makes no difference how large the dog is, it is a methods  that works  equally well with all dogs.

Have the dog on leash and when you stop, extend your left leg a little further than usual to give the dog an indication that you intend stopping.

 Your dog is on your left side and your leash is your right hand. As you stop use your left hand to help you shorten the lead in your right hand. 

This  means, in effect,  that instead of having a long lead in your right hand,  you now  have a bunched up very much shorter lead in your right hand.

 Your left hand is now free.  When you stop, give the command ‘SIT”.  Lift up your right hand quite high. At the same time use your left hand to press down on the dog’s hindquarters.  

You won’t need very much force to press down on the dog’s hindquarters because you are lifting the dogs head with your right hand at the same time.

The position of your left hand is important. Don’t press down in the middle of the dog’s back. Rather slide your hand down towards the back of his rib cage.

After a short while, you’ll find that you only have to touch his hindquarters to encourage him to sit.  Do this at the same time as you give the voice command ‘SIT” and very soon you’ll have a perfect sit.

It’s important for your dog to obey you and sit immediately you give the command.  

It’s easy for you to achieve this.  With the shortened leash in your right hand and your left hand pressing down on his hindquarters, you will easily be able to control your dog, even if it is a large animal.

When you have stopped, it’s a good idea not to start walking forward immediately.   Let the dog remain in the sit position for a short while.

Take advantage of the fact that you have given him a command and he has listened. Your next command as you step forward – with your left  foot remember – should be “heel”.

There is no need to continue using your left hand once he has become accustomed to listening to your command “sit” and obeys immediately.

Simply lift up your right hand as you give the “sit” command.   At a later stage of training you are going to expect him to sit immediately you  stop and give the “sit” command.

 There won’t be  any necessity for lifting your right hand at all.

And, at an even more advanced stage of training, you are going to expect him to sit immediately you stop, without any command, or hand signal at all.


This is a fairly easy exercise if you carry out the different training steps gradually.

 Your first  step is to give the command ‘SIT STAY” in a clear, firm voice. Then go  to the end of your lead and stand in front of your dog.    To make this command more definite, when you stand in front of your dog, you can hold your right hand high with fingers outstretched, imitating a traffic controllers stop signal; or you can hold your extended hand in front of the dog’s face.

Keep your  dog in this sit  stay position for a while;  then circle him by walking  around him.

In the initial stage you need walk around him only once before returning to his right side.  Later you  can increase the number of times you circle your dog before returning to him.

By holding  the leash while instructing him to SIT STAY, your dog will not be anxious that you will leave him and not return.

It is important for your dog to be absolutely confident that you will return to him.  This will avoid the problem  of the dog getting up and coming to look for you when the training is more advanced and you have to leave the dog for a considerable time on its  own while you disappear from view.

If you are able to train your dog to remain in the sit-stay position for a length of time, you’ll have no difficulty in leaving it for a long time in the DOWN position.

When the dog has become accustomed to remaining in the SIT STAY position while you are holding the leash, you can give him a firm SIT STAY command, then drop the leash and walk away.

In the initial stages of training you can walk backwards away from your dog, keeping your right hand extended.   Keep the distance fairly short at first and gradually lengthen the distance.

If your dog has the habit of coming to you after you have give him the command SIT STAY, left him and walked some distance away, here is a useful way to break this habit:

1.   Get a very long length of light but strong webbing or some other material.  Attach it to the dog’s collar.


2.   Find a tree on your training field.


3.   Take the dog about six feet in front of the tree and  give it  the Sit stay command


4.   Take this very long lead that you have made and wind  it very loosely once around the base of the pole or tree that is behind the dog.


5.   Make sure that this lead is lying loosely on the ground and the dog is not aware that it is attached to his collar.


6.   Walk about ten to fifteen feet away from the dog with the end of the very long lead in your hand.


7.    The dog should still be in the SIT STAY position.


8.   Drop the lead to the ground in front of you and repeat the SIT STAY  command with your right hand extended.


9.   You have dropped the long lead to the ground in front of you, so the dog is not aware that the lead is attached to its collar.


10.        When the dog breaks the SIT STAY and start coming towards you, quickly pick up the end of the lead that is on the ground in front of you. Give it a quick jerk.


11.        The lead, attached to the dog’s collar, is wrapped around the  base of the tree.


12.        This prevents the dog from coming forward to you.  It is jerked to a halt.


13.        The dog is forced to stop in its tracks.  It is completely confused that you  are able to control it’s movement and stop it coming to you.


14.        In future, when you leave the dog in the sit stay position, all you have to do is to give  the  STAY  command


15.        You won’t have to use the extra long lead again. Leave  a normal lead hanging on the ground  in front of  the dog.


The dog  will have no idea whether or not you have control of this lead and will not take a chance and break his stay.