There are several ways to teach your dog to sit on cue. I will talk about one of them here today. You can refer to our book Through A Dark Silence to read about other techniques. Choose the one that works best with your dog. Keep in mind that it will be most helpful to your dog if you reward while she is still in the sit position. You may need to pet her while holding her in position and feeding at first until she gets the idea to stay sitting.
You may be able to lure your dog into a sit position. Hold the treat directly above your dog’s nose so she can reach up her nose easily to sniff it. The important part is to keep the treat very close to her nose without letting her get the treat. Slowly move the treat upward to stretch her nose up and back toward her shoulders. As her head stretches upward, her rear end should sink down towards the floor.
Immediately when her rear reaches the floor, pet and praise, and give a treat. If you can get the treat to her while she is still sitting, progress will be faster. Each time you lead her into a sit, it should get easier and easier as she learns that the behavior will lead to a treat.
This makes it sound very easy, but in reality, many variables can happen along the way. If your dog starts to sit but always pops back into a stand, you may need to reward just the beginning of the sit at first. As her rear starts to sink down just a little bit, pet and give the treat. Over time, you will begin to see her rear going lower and lower towards the floor. Reward these lower movements and stop rewarding the ones that aren’t so low. Eventually you will have a sit!
With active and wiggly dogs, it may be difficult to get her to stay in place as you try to lure her into the sit. You can help by positioning her with her rear towards a corner to help guide her to stand still, and put one hand gently under her chin or on her chest, while you lead her nose with the treat in the other hand.
When you can easily lure your dog into a sit position, begin to add the cue. Give the sit cue and then immediately help her with the lure to sit. Reward her while she’s in position, and then give a release cue to let her know that she can get up. With time, you can give the sit cue and then pause to see if your dog will begin to respond on her own without the lure. Be ready to help her if she is confused. But lure her less and less until she is responding on her own to the sit cue. Remember to reward in the sit position and then give the release cue so she knows she can get up.
If your dog has enough vision, the hand motion of luring her into a sit can be used as the sit cue. Just fade having food in your hand and the movement of your hand up over her head will become the signal for her to sit.
Now begin to practice the sit exercise in new places and with distractions going on - begin easy, by practicing in different rooms of the house, then the yard, then on walks, the park, etc. Be sure you practice around new people and dogs as well, all to prepare you and your dog for the CGC evaluation.