Maneuver the dog into the sit position with a command or physically place the dog in a sit position. Give the command “Sit-Stay” as the dog assumes the position. Reward the dog immediately with food and praise. The sit-stay should be rewarded with food and praise every time the dog correctly performs while learning the task. Begin with 15-20 repetitions per day interspersed throughout the day, using a familiar place without distractions. Gradually increase the time and distance the dog is left until it can perform the task for 1 minute at a distance of 5 feet. Add in a key phrase like “chill” or “easy” to teach the dog to associate relaxation with sit and stay. Increase the time and distance gradually after the dog has been successful 4 times at the previous level. Keep the sessions short and fun! Stop the game before the dog tires of it. After a week, when the dog understands the game and is performing eagerly, continue to praise every time but use food rewards intermittently. Give food every other time, then every third time, then randomly.
Nothing in Life is Free!
In order to receive anything (i.e. food, toy, your attention/affection, to go out, etc), the dog must first perform a command such as “Sit”. If the dog sits before you ask it to, make the dog lie down (or perform another command of your choice) before receiving desired item.
It is helpful for both you and your pet to have more structure in your relationship. So, when the dog comes seeking attention (i.e. pushing, pawing, nudging, barking, stealing items), you should not respond. Attention seeking behaviors should always be ignored! Even vocal reprimands may be interpreted as attention and therefore should be avoided. It is ok to give your dog affection and attention, but it should be on your terms. If the dog comes over seeking attention, you should send it away. Call the dog over at another time, make the animal sit or down (remember, nothing in life is free!), and give the affection/attention.