The sit command sets the basic foundation for everything else you will teach your Golden Retriever.
When your dog learns to sit and be still, he is also learning to control himself. Learning self-control is a very tough lesson for many young Goldens as being still is simply not built in their genetic code. However, your Golden Retriever can learn to control himself and the sit command is the place to start.
The sit command is the basic command for many other exercises, including the down and wait, as well as many advanced obedience commands. The sit command is also a very useful command around the house. Your Golden cannot jump up on people if he is sitting. He cannot grab food out of your hand at dinner time if he is sitting.
There are two methods for teaching your Golden how to sit. Some techniques work better for one dog than another, so try both and see which works better for your Golden. Hold your Golden’s leash in your left hand and have some treats in your right hand. Tell your Golden to sit as you move your right hand from his nose over his head towards his tail. He will lift his head to follow your hand and will sit in response to that movement. As he sits, praise him by saying something like, “Good boy to sit!” Pet him while he’s in the sitting position, give him a treat and have him hold the sit until you pat him on the shoulder to release him. Then use a release command such as, “Release!” to tell your dog that he is finished with that particular exercise and can move. You and your dog will learn to use the release command for several different exercises.
Use the second technique if your dog is too excited by the treats or if he spins around in place to get the treat instead of sitting. Tell your Golden to sit as you put your right hand on the front of his chest as your left hand slides down his back to his rump and gently shape him into a sit position. If he is really wiggly and squirmy, keep your hands on him as you praise him for sitting, then, with your hands on him, you can gently restrain him so that he cannot pop back up. When you are ready for him to move from the sit position, pat him on the shoulder and tell him, “Release!” Do not get into the habit of repeating your commands.
If you tell your dog to sit three or four times, which one should he listen to? You are not teaching him sit by repeating it, but you are teaching him that he doesn’t have to listen to you. So, give each command only once and then help your dog to succeed. Tell him to sit, wait a moment to allow him to do it and if he doesn’t, help him do it.
Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.