Sit, Down & Stand Cues

To teach your pup to sit, have a treat in your hand, held between your thumb and index finger. The pup should be able to smell the treat but not grab it out of your hand.

First, get the pup’s attention and give him a little taste of the treat. Once he is a willing participant, you are ready to start.

With the pup’s nose against your finger, bring your hand backward in a slight arc, over the puppy’s head towards his tail. The puppy’s nose and eyes will follow the treat causing him to plunk backwards and naturally sit.

Once the pup’s butt hits the ground, let him have a little piece of treat and praise him.

Release the pup before he breaks the sit. Repeat this exercise often!

Everyday Uses for Sit Cue

Sit is invaluable for a dog.

  • A dog cannot jump up on a person if he is sitting.
  • A dog cannot run out of the house or jump out of the car if he is sitting.
  • A dog cannot knock over a small child if you ask him to sit instead.
  • A dog cannot yank you on the leash while you are chatting with your neighbor if he is sitting.

Try this test with your puppy once he has learned sit and down. Determine if there are any weak spots in your routine by standing in a variety of locations while asking your puppy to sit. Stand in front of your puppy, stand to the right or left. Try it when sitting in a chair, then try lying down and asking the puppy to sit. If you see any inconsistency in the response, this exercise isolates what you need to work on refining.


This is a more vulnerable position for the puppy and he may not down for you as readily as he sits. Be kind and patient.

To start it may be easier to get the pup into a down while he is sitting.
With your pup in a sit and a treat in between your thumb and index finger and your pup’s nose sniffing the treat, bring the treat down, in a straight line, between the pup’s front paws.
Try not to move the treat too quickly.

Once the pup has downed, treat, praise, and release.
A good way to ensure that you do not lose the focus of the puppy is to make sure that you do not let the pup’s nose get away from your hand. You should be able to feel his wet nose on your hand. If you can’t, you may be moving too fast or too slow and the puppy is getting bored and disinterested.

Once your pup lies down easily from a sit, it is important that you work on the downfrom a stand. In the same way, bring a treat down from the pup’s nose in between his two front paws.
Get the pup’s hips over to one side. This helps to ensure that the pup holds his down. Do this by continuing to lure down one side of the puppy (remember to ensure that the pup’s nose stays in contact with your hand).

Everyday Uses for the Down Cue

  • Asking your dog to down while you prepare dinner is a good way to keep the dog out from underfoot.
  • Asking your dog to down when there are children or fragile elderly people around will ensure that your dog never knocks anyone over or tramples someone.
  • A dog that will down for you in a public situation around distractions is usually a very good sign of a dog who is under control. This is a dog who is welcome in many places: your friend’s and family’s home, cottages, outdoor cafes, local businesses.

Extending the sit and down

In much the same way that we start by training puppies indoors with no distractions then add stimuli as the pup grows more accomplished, it is also true for extending the time a puppy can hold a sit or a down.

The goal is to teach the puppy to hold either the down or the sit until further notice. This is not to be confused with Stay cue.

To reach this objective, offer the puppy tiny pieces of treat after treat as he holds the desired position (either sit or down). The timing of these treats is important. Too slow and the pup will lose interest and break or jump to get the treat. Like everything else, start by getting the puppy to hold for a few seconds. Build up the amount of time as you go. Practice this regularly and before you know it, you will have taught your pup to sit and down for extended periods of time! Add distractions as your puppy becomes more accomplished.


With the pup in a sit and his nose focused on a treat in between thumb and index finger, bring treat forward in a straight line so that pup follows and naturally goes into a stand.

Be sure your puppy does not walk too far forward.

Just a step or two to allow him to get into a standing position. Treat, praise, and release.
Repeat exercise frequently.

Everyday Uses for the Stand Cue

  • Stand is very useful when you are at the vet, the groomer, or for you to be able to make your way around your dog when you need to.