How to Train a German Shepherd to Sit

Updated on July 21, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

I am a writer with a great interest in German Shepherds, cats, and animals in general. I hope you enjoy my articles.

If you have a German Shepherd, you already know about their reputation for being extremely intelligent, active dogs. This means that you have to work hard to keep them entertained, but that they can learn tricks very quickly.

One of the first tricks you’ll want to teach your German Shepherd is "sit." This will come in handy for walks, feeding, and any other time you want your dog to remain still. So the earlier you can teach your puppy how to sit, the better.

The following steps will guide you through training your German Shepherd to sit in a way that will leave both dog and owner happy.

  • Essentials in training German Shepherds (attention, trust, commands).
  • Step-by-step guide for training German Shepherd dogs to sit.
  • Precautions.

Establish Your German Shepherd’s Attention

Training works best when your dog is calm and not distracted. So avoid training first thing in the morning or when you get home from work. Instead, let your dog get some energy out playing before you start training.

Then, make sure you’re in an area where your pup won’t be distracted by other dogs or people. Next, get your dog’s attention by using his or her name.

Use Treats to Obtain a Sitting Movement

When you start training your German Shepherd to sit, you’ll want to use treats to motivate and guide him. Instead of pushing down on your dog’s back, which can feel like a punishment, you can use a treat to guide his movement. With the treat in a fist, hold your hand in front of your dog’s nose, just out of reach. Then move your hand up, over your dog’s head.

Your dog should naturally move into a sitting position to raise his head up towards your hand. Don’t worry if he spins around or jumps up a few times. Just re-center and try again.

Once he does sit, immediately say “sit” in a calm voice and give him the treat. Over time, he’ll learn to associate both the command and the reward with sitting.

Next Steps: Hand and Voice Commands

As you move your hand, you may want to use a hand signal, such as a fist with a pointed finger. If you use this signal consistently, your dog will learn to associate the visual sign with the command.

Once he begins to sit on command regularly, you can start transitioning from treats to praise.

When your German Shepherd sits, give him some pets and enthusiastic praise. Gradually, you’ll be able to use voice or hand signals to get your dog to sit.

Tips for Success

Effective training depends on two key principles: consistency and reinforcement. Choose what your vocal command and voice signal will be before starting, and keep those the same every time. And make sure that you practice training regularly, at least two times a day with breaks in between.

If you can do this, you’ll notice your German Shepherd learning the command in as little as 3 days.

In about a week, he should be sitting with just your voice command. And you’ll be ready to move on to more exciting tricks!

Clicker Training for Obedience

A clicker can be a useful tool for helping to train a dog, but they’re not necessary. With a clicker, you will click the button after your dog has completed a command but before you give them a treat. After completing the command, you give them the treat. They will associate the sound of the clicker with the treat, perform the trick, and be much easier to engage with.

A Guide to Training a Shepherd to Sit

These are the easiest steps that you can follow if you want to train your Shepherd how to sit effectively. There are, of course, ways that you can modify this to suit your own tastes. As far as basic training procedures go, however, this is as simple as it gets.

1. Get your treats

Once you’ve got your treats selected—again, something that’s not just tasty, but very healthy—then you’re ready to start training. You can also make your own treats and include some of the best ingredients for any dog or human: love.

2. Position

Make sure your dog is in front of you. This is easier if your dog is being held on a leash by someone or tied up to something. If they are being fidgety or hyperactive, try to calm them down first.

3. Entice

Hold the treat out so your dog can see it. Then, bring it closer to their face, towards their nose. Make sure that the treat remains just out of reach so your dog can’t jump up and grab it. Not too close and not too far is the key.

Then, move your hand slowly up, further above their head, and a little bit closer towards them. Your dog will likely follow the movement of your hand, and end up in a position something between kneeling and crouching. If you move your hand further back enough, they will end up in the sitting posture.

4. Verbalize

As soon as your dog’s butt touches the ground, say “sit.” When you do this, you can extend the hand that’s not holding the treat to make whatever hand sign that you want to reinforce the behavior. As your dog remains sitting, you can give them the treat. This is the moment where most of the learning and reinforcement actually occurs.

5. Be persistent

The next thing that you’ll have to do will probably be the longest and most difficult part of the training session. You’ll have to keep training, every day, until your dog really gets the command. German Shepherds are very intelligent and they need to have something occupying their mind, so they will probably be eager to engage in this sort of training. You can even mix it in with their daily exercise and take down two birds with one stone.

As your dog begins to understand the command, you won’t need to use the entire sitting procedure. You can begin just using the verbal command and the hand signs, preferably together for added emphasis.

After your dog has begun to be familiar with both, you can drop either the hand command or the verbal command and begin training with each separately. At the end of the training, you should be able to have your dog sit by using either the verbal or the physical command.


There are a couple things that you might want to keep in mind when you’re training your German Shepherd. These things can help to ensure that you and your dog maintain a healthy relationship and have the best training experience possible.

  • Don’t train by punishment or aggression. These are ways that you will train your dog to resent you and to not respect your authority, or if they do respect it it will be out of fear. Use positive reinforcement.
  • Don’t use unhealthy treats to train your dog, or they’ll get accustomed to the lack of nutrition and won’t like to eat healthy food.
  • When beginning to train, try to only train your dog with one person. If multiple people attempt to train it then it might get confused and not know who to listen to. The primary trainer should be the person spending the most time with the dog.


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    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      19 months ago from Europe


      Thank you, yes the training tips can be used for most breeds and not just German Shepherds. Some dogs are more easy to train than others.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      19 months ago from UK

      You give very clear and easy to follow advice. I'm guessing that this could be applied to other breeds as well.

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      19 months ago from Europe

      Yes, I know, thanks. Someone has already changed it. It's a habit of my native tongue where one word is often used for both, although in some cases with a prefix indicating the direction, except when talking about schoolteachers and students.

      Adding that summary on hubpages when the article is done is often rushed work. :)

    • profile image

      Marty Rosenstock 

      19 months ago

      Teaching, not learning should be the first word of the first sentence.


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