Cure for lazy sitting?


Well-Known Member
Wow, it's been a while since I've been on here - life is just too busy!!

So I've been noticing a trend with Cassidy - she will no longer hold a sit! She immediately slides to a down. She will sit first, but downs immediately afterward with no command to do so! Obviously this creates problems when trying to teach commands from a sit position, or even sit/stay (she will only down/stay, never sit).

I've tried clicking IMMEDIATELY for the sit and treating. This works only if I do it the instant she sits (I tried waiting a little longer each time before clicking so it would sink in that SITTING is what is getting her the treat, but if I wait even a millisecond before clicking, she automatically goes into a down).

I've also tried holding my hand or a treat over her head so that she has to look up, but then she either "sits pretty" (up on her back legs, front paws in the air) or just slides down while she's staring at my hand... or barks up a storm... haha.

Ideas, anyone?? :dogrolleyes:


New Member
Have you proofed the "sit" behavior? If you give her the command down, and then give her the command sit, will she sit? If not, she may think that sit and down are interchangeable.

This is what i would do: get a Large piece of treat that she can nibble on/lick. Have her sit and hold the treat directly in front of her nose at nose level. click and let her start licking. Move the treat back from her just slightly so she can't reach it to lick. If she stands up to follow it, that's ok! I wouldn't click for a stand, since that's not what you're teaching, but at least it's not a down.

If she stood up, just tell her to sit again, click and move the treat back to her nose.

If she is still sitting, count to one IN YOUR HEAD then click and give the treat back. Repeat, count to two IN YOUR HEAD (dogs will anticipate counting if you do it outloud), click/treat. Each time she doesn't it, increase the time you wait by one number. If she downs, go back to the last number she sat for, click/treat and then call it a session.

Lots and lots of super short mini-sessions are better for this kind of problem than long sessions. Keep it under 3 minutes!


Well-Known Member
Cool, thanks Lexio2! I will try it tonight. She DOES know sit from down, but is very reluctant to do it. I have noticed that she hardly ever sits even on her own - if she's just hanging around the house, it's either up or down, hardly ever sitting (although when she does sit, it's a very "lazy" one where she's all crooked or leaning up against the couch... haha)

Thanks again for the tip, and like I said, I'll give it a try tonight! :dogbiggrin:


New Member
you can also do lots of reps of "doggie pushups" - rapid fire sit/down/sit/down/sit/down to reinforce the difference. If she has hip/joint problems (I just bring it up since i have two dogs with hip dysplasia) be sure to keep those sessions short so they don't hurt :)


Experienced Member
In my opinion, dogs don't naturally sit a whole lot on their own. Some dogs sit more than others, but all dogs will lie down and stand a ton more!

I think you've been given good advice on how to reward the sit, and teach her that sit and down are not interchangeable cues. Anytime she lies down, I would just say oops! (or your no-reward marker if you have one) and move into her. If she's down and you lean forward, or take a step into her space, she will have to move out of the way and most dogs pop into a sit.

I would also work on strengthening those back muscles. Holding a sit is very hard for dogs! Teaching "Beg" can help with that, and then having them hold it for longer periods of time. And then having them go from a "beg" to "up/dance" and back to a "beg" is really great if you could teach her that! You can also get a big bouncy ball, or pilate half circle thingy (don't know what its called!) and have her balance on them to work her entire body muscles.

But really, I would just start very slowly, having her nibbling something can help, and do what you've been doing. Never reward her for a down if you said sit.


Well-Known Member
princessbride029;17474 said:
hardly ever sitting (although when she does sit, it's a very "lazy" one where she's all crooked or leaning up against the couch... haha)
I'd suggest you teach her to sit up properly. If she has a lazy/puppy sit she is more likely to go into the down? So, if you go with what lexio suggested, but only click and reward her for sitting square...get her to really stretch up (so she's almost on tip-toe in front as this will get her thinking 'upwards'). If she finds it really hard, ask her to do it in the heelwork position at first till she gets the hang of sitting up straight.


Experienced Member
you can work luring the pup to sit by bringing a treat up slowly from below her chin and just in front of her nose to just above her head and click/treat or cue treat right when she's reaching and sitting very straight to touch the treat. treat only when she's in position and use the marker to be sure she knows the moment she is doing right.

Khalid Al Qassem

New Member
Great Advice on the "sit" command. Thank God I read this thread before Sergeant got into a constant hbit of "sit" then Automatic "Lay Down"....These are some good methods in separating the two and keeping a dog "on his toes" in a sitting position. Thanks!


Experienced Member
Is there any possibility that sitting causes her pain or discomfort? she looks to be a lab and they're prone to hip and knee issues. Just something to think about.
Assuming she's sounds, I'd start from square one with sitting.


Staff member
I'd use the laziness against her. Isis used to do the same but this is how I fixed her problem with wanting to auto down.

Ask for TWO Sits before you click. Sit (down) Sit Click. Sit (down) Sit Click. The Laws of Laziness says that the moving between the Sits will get shallower and shallower until finally she asks you if she could just stay sitting and wait for the click. Like we would sy no to that… If you ask for two Sits X30 and that still isn't working, go to THREE Sits before you click. Somewhere in here she's going to get tired of sliding down.

what the fuzz

New Member
Make it exciting. Get a really high reward that gets her up and excited- do rapid sits- sit, toss treat, she runs back. Do ten reps and see what the time is between cue and actual sit...get an average # and use that as your criteria- now you ONLY reinforce sits that are within that range... you know that she can do it, physically, once you get an average number.

You can gradually increase the criteria to ONLY reinforcing faster and faster sits. You will also have to (separately) reinforce only "nice" sits... don't reinforce sloppy ones...and heavily reinforce the nice ones. You want to do rapid repetitions with high value reward as to keep her interested.

End on a high note- do a short session- 10 reps max perhaps, end with a really good one (even if not perfect) reinforce heavily and end the session. You want to leave her excited about it...not drill her until it's boring or "perfect"... you have to keep her interest in sitting- especially if it's particularly hard or blah for her.

Pawtential Unleashed

Experienced Member
Alot of the reason this happens is if when teaching Down - you don't fade the Sit cue soon enough. They figure you are going to ask for a Down anyway - so why wait. I find it handy if my students get rid of Sit as soon as possible and instead do reps like Look -- Sit -- Touch -- Stand -- Down. Separate Sit and Down with a few other cues - sometimes 1, other times maybe 2-3. This stops the predictive behavior.

This said - sometimes it is just about sloppy sitting. I have a very lazy sitter. Given the slightest chance - Ayla will Down for anything with duration. I have to say floor surfaces make a difference too...if Ayla feels her back feet sliding - she will just lie down rather than struggle to remain in a sit on a slick floor like hardwoods or lino.

Something I read recently that I am working on her is having them watch you do something else while they sit. For short stays - maybe move a toy/ball from hand to hand for a second or two - they are focused enough on the item that they remain in a sit. When building duration [when you're ready], the person suggested unloading the dishwasher, preparing their dinner or something similar where they are alert and waiting.

Another way I have found handy - if she is ball driven - perhaps ask for a sit between each ball throw. Increase the delay before you throw again by a sec at a time. If she downs you have three choices:

1) Give a NRM [Uh-oh] and turn your back for a second to reset the game
2) Cue a Sit from Down and as soon as she is in a nice square sit - throw the ball
3) Remain facing her, get completely still, no eye contact and see if she will eventually sit up herself - as soon as she does - get very excited and throw the ball

You have received a lot of great advice - I'm sure we'll see her in a rock solid sit in no time!

Pawtential Unleashed

Experienced Member
Even if a dog isn't ball driven you can still toss a treat across the room. Dogs can quickly learn that the next move may be active so they don't risk a down.
Very true - I meant to only use a ball as an example - whatever works as a high motivator will work - stop start rousing games of tug, anything that can be thrown and/or retrieved, chasing a laser light, flirt pole work - whatever your dog will sit up and take notice of that you can play with in a red light/green light sort of fashion. :D


Honored Member
Yes anything that requires the dog to be active works :D but I mentioned the treat particularly because it is easy to assume that when we use treats we have to reward the dog in the correct position and that isn't always true, especially not with clicker dogs. It took ages for me to realise that because Zac is a chasing dog he likes chasing a treat more than eating it :ROFLMAO:.


Experienced Member
I have the same problem, but my dog won't hold a "stand" position with a "stay" :ROFLMAO:. He is a down-dog too, he'll slide to a down if he's either not interested or already tired. I find hard to make stays exciting, they usually break my "let's chase each other and have some fun" routine.