Teaching a dog how to sit should be your first step before learning your dog anything else (but it’s name obviously).
The “sit” command will pave the way for further and more advanced obedience training so even if it’s not as sexy as learning your catahoula how to fetch the mail or to close doors you have to start somewhere, right ?
You might be tempted to register at a training class right at the beginning but you don’t really have to as it is easily done at home and essential for you and your pet to build stronger bonds.
How to teach your Catahoula to sit in 5 steps
Get his attention. Catahoulas have a strong prey drive so if they are not interested in treats you can tease them with their favorite toy.
Hold the treat/toy close to your catahoula’s nose and guide him into position by holding it up and over his head. Praise and give it to him when he sits.
If you are holding the treat too high he will try to jump, and too low, he will back up. Do that several times so he understands the motion.
Once they understood the movement pattern and you can predict when your Catahoula will sit you can start to pair the treat with the command. Say it just before he sits.
Do that several times.
Now, continue practicing by gradually reducing the hand gesture so that he obeys on command. Reward him only when he sits and continues to sit. That’s it !
Good confidence boost right? Now, if you are ready for more, practice everywhere, at anytime. Dogs tend to assimilate commands with a specific location or body language so be sure to train your catahoula in different environments.
Very important: once your catahoula understands a command, don’t reward him every time. Ask him to sit multiple times before you give a treat for example. You should also vary the rewards (toys, high value treats, low value treats, praising, petting, etc).
What rewards should you use ?
The best reward type will depend on your Catahoula’s character, some are food oriented, others prefer toys.
Use petting when your dog already masters the command, this will make-up for the no treat/toy reward.
Petting should be used 70-90% of the time when your dog knows a command.
Your catahoula will prefer food and toys to petting as studies have shown (1, 2, 3) so use those as high value rewards to make him learn new tricks.
If your Catahoula is toy oriented, it will be a little more complicated to make him learn tricks but you can still do it !
When he obeys your command, reward him with his favorite toy and let him play with it for a limited time. Then back to training.
You will need more patience than with food and it’s more expensive in the short term since you have to vary the toys but it works well.
Do you want to know what are the best durable indoor and outdoor toys for a Catahoula ? Check our list here.
Treats are the perfect reward, no wonder every serious owner uses them.
The best option is to use low value and high value treats.
Low value treats will be used to get your dog somewhere you want.
For example, in this case, with the “sit command”, give him kibble until step 4/5. Once he really understands what the “sit” command is, you can give him higher perceived value treats. And I can assure you that this way he will remember what “sit” means !
Do you want to know what are the best treats for your Catahoula ? Check our list here.