There’s nothing more endearing then watching a dog plead for some attention or a treat, by sitting on his hind legs while his front legs are up in the air begging in a cute, polite manner. It’s a fact that most dogs know how to sit, but just a few know how to sit pretty. Dog owners who wish to add this cute trick to their dog’s repertoire of learned behaviors can do so with just a few treats, a clicker and the use of powerful positive reinforcement training. While this trick at a first glance may seem easy, in reality it requires a dog to be able to carefully balance himself. This ability can be built gradually, as the dog gains strength in his back legs.
Step-by-Step: Training a Dog to Sit Pretty
Some dogs are naturally predisposed to sit pretty upon luring them with a treat. Others may need some time to develop this balancing skill. It’s best to give the dog time and to proceed gradually. The sit command is a prerequisite for the sit pretty trick.
- Have the dog sit in front of you and bend down at his level.
- Hold a smelly treat between your thumb and index finger allowing it to protrude enough so that your dog smells it and is tempted to have it.
- Slowly lift the treat above the dog to entice him to follow it.
- The moment the dog lifts his paws up from the ground, click the clicker and immediately deliver a treat.
- Repeat the sequence several times.
- When the behavior is more fluent, add the cue “sit pretty” right before enticing the dog to lift his paws off the ground with the treat.
- As the dog gets better at balancing himself, you can then start to move gradually away from him and ask him to beg on cue without being lured with the treat. Keep the treat in your pocket but get it out to reward him immediately the moment he sits pretty.
Should the dog have trouble balancing himself, it’s not a bad idea to help him out. You can help support his front legs as he learns how to better balance himself and gains more strength in his back legs. For stubborn cases, you can also support his hindquarters with your other hand or you can stand behind him so he can lean against you for better balance. Initially, ask him to hold the position only for very brief periods of time. Even three seconds may be too long for him at first; you don’t want him to hurt his back or fall! As he gets better at this exercise, you can gradually build in duration by asking to hold the position for longer periods of time.
The Bottom Line
As seen, the sit pretty command, also known as the begging command, takes a bit of time to learn, especially for larger dogs, but once it’s mastered, Oliver won’t forget it as long as you practice it every now and then. Even better, this command can be used as a basis for other commands such as praying or waving goodbye.