5 Steps To Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy To Sit & Stay

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Training your golden retriever puppy to sit is simple and easy—once you know the right way to teach them.

And even though it’s a basic command, it’s very useful in helping to stop or prevent bad behaviors.

In this post, I’m going to show you:

  • How to teach your puppy to sit step by step
  • How to get them to stay seated
  • How to learn how to sit even when there are distractions around
  • The biggest mistakes new puppy owners make when teaching their puppy to sit

And much more.

Let’s dive in!

Why Teaching Your Golden To Sit Is Important

Teaching your golden retriever puppy to sit is a great way to get started with training.

Getting this first command down builds confidence for both you and your puppy, plus it can help with a lot of other potential problem behaviors down the line.

For example, many people struggle with their golden retriever jumping up on them.

Getting them to sit when they want to jump is a great way to stop them from jumping.

Having your golden sit and look at you is also a good way to get them to focus and work on impulse control.

And finally — no offense to all you sweet goldens out there — it can help when they’re being annoying.

For instance, if I have a treat in my hand, my golden, Oliver, will sometimes nudge me to get to it.

Or if I’m going to get a toy out of his toy bin he’ll stick his face in the bin before I can reach in it to grab a toy…

Or if I’m going to open the door for a friend sometimes he tries to stick his face out to greet them first…

When he does these things, I just ask him to sit, which gives him a job to do instead of pestering me or someone else.

How To Teach Your Puppy To Sit Step By Step

golden retriever puppy sit

Here are the five steps to teach your golden retriever puppy to sit and stay seated:

  1. Get them to sit by luring them into a sit
  2. Teach them the word “sit”
  3. Teach them a hand signal for sit
  4. Practice sitting in new and challenging environments
  5. Teach them to stay seated

You can teach your puppy to sit pretty much as soon as you bring them home at eight weeks.

You won’t get to each of these steps in one training session, but take it slow and your puppy will soon be sitting like a pro.

Now before you start step one, it’s important to set them up for success.

Step 0: Set Them Up For Success

Puppies are like toddlers with short attention spans that are easily distracted, so you need to make training quick and fun.

Here are six tips for setting them up for success:

  1. Exercise your puppy before you train so they’re not bouncing off the wall (but be sure to not totally wear them out)
  2. Train inside in a room they’re comfortable in with little distractions, like the living room or a bedroom
  3. Keep training sessions short (2-5 minutes)
  4. Leave them wanting more (instead of running them to the ground)
  5. End on a high note
  6. Keep training fun!

Now that you know how to set your puppy up for success, let’s get to training!

Step 1: Get Them To Sit

teach golden retriever puppy sit

The easiest way to get your golden retriever puppy to sit is to lure them.

To lure them into a sit:

  1. Hold the treat slightly in front of and higher than their head
  2. Slowly move it straight back behind them parallel to the ground.

As they try to follow it with their nose they will eventually fall into a sit.

It may take a few tries but as soon as their butt hits the floor, do these three things:

  1. Mark the sit with a clicker or a verbal marker like “yes”
  2. Give them a treat
  3. Praise them for doing a good job

As far as treats go, young puppies are pretty excited about their kibble still, so you can use regular kibble or soft treats like Zuke’s mini treats.

Step 2: Add The Word “Sit”

Once your puppy is consistently sitting when you’re luring them into a sit, it’s time to add the word “sit.”

Here’s why you wait to add the word…

You don’t want them to get used to hearing “sit” and not sitting.

You want them to pair “sit” with the act of sitting so that when they hear the word they know that they need to sit right away.

So to teach them this, say “sit” as your puppy is sitting down.

Practice this several times in a row so that they get used to sitting when they heard the word “sit.”

Step 3: Add A Hand Signal

hand signal for puppy sitting

The next step to teaching your puppy to sit is to add a hand signal.

Puppies are very visual and using a hand signal can help them learn and obey a command better.

We use an open palm facing up and then lift our hand up, kinda like we’re doing a facepalm, but stopping ourselves just short.

It doesn’t really matter what signal you use, as long as you’re consistent.

To add a hand signal, slowly phase out luring until you can just hold a treat in front of their face, say “sit” and they’ll sit.

Now, instead of just holding the treat in front of their face, do your hand signal with the treat in your hand.

If you’re using an open palm like we do, use your thumb to keep the treat in your palm.

As they get better at sitting while doing the hand signal with the treat in your hand, try putting the treat in your other hand and doing the hand signal without the treat.

Then as soon as they sit, give them the treat from your other hand.

For example, if you always do the hand signal with your right hand, put the treat in your left hand, do the hand signal with your right hand, and then give them the treat with your left.

Step 4: Practice In New & Challenging Environments

golden retriever sitting

Once your puppy is sitting when you ask them to, it’s time to challenge them a bit.

Puppies don’t generalize well, which means that they might realize “sit” means sit in the living room, but they don’t know that “sit” means sit in the backyard.

So as you work on mastering a command, try it in different spots.

If you started in the living room, then try in the kitchen, then the bedroom, then the hallway.

Once they can consistently sit inside, then take them to the backyard or the driveway—somewhere they’re still pretty comfortable in.

Once they’ve mastered that, then try sitting at different places on their walks.

Practicing often and randomly will help solidify this command in your puppy’s mind.

However, make sure to take it slow when challenging them because every time you ask them to sit and they don’t obey, they might start to think that asking them to “sit” is a suggestion, not a command.

When this happens, they’ll start to not listen in other scenarios, which can cause a downward spiral in your training efforts.

Step 5: Teach Them To Stay Seated

It might seem impossible to teach a bouncy, energetic puppy to stay still, but it’s actually simpler than you might think.

To teach them to stay, you just quickly keep giving them treats them as long as they stay seated.

If they pop up, then you stop rewarding them.

You might only get in one or two treats before they pop up at first, but eventually, they’ll learn to sit longer and longer.

As they get better at staying seated, slowly increase the time between rewarding them.

The next step to teaching them to stay is to teach them a command that means, “thank you for staying, you’re free to get up.”

Most people use the word, “free.”

So to teach them “free” you first ask for a sit, make them wait a few seconds, say “free,” then back up, clap your hands, or pat your thighs to let them know that they’re allowed to get up.

If they get up when you say “free” mark and reward them for it.

The goal is that when you ask them to sit, they’ll sit indefinitely until you release them.

This is easier than training a “stay” command because you’ll probably find yourself just saying, “sit-stay” all the time (this is what we used to do, but now having stay be implied in every sit is so much easier).

Another note about teaching stay is that even though this is step 5, you can start teaching them to stay seated almost as soon as they learn to sit.

Common Mistakes When Teaching Your Puppy To Sit

Here are six of the most common mistakes new golden retriever puppy owners make when teaching their puppy to sit and stay.

  1. Don’t lure the treat over their head too quickly. Slowly bring it backward so that they can follow it with their nose, but eventually have to sit down to keep following it.
  2. Don’t ask for too much too soon. This is especially true for teaching stay.
  3. Don’t push their butt down. This inhibits them from figuring it out themselves, which is what helps them learn a command long-term.
  4. Don’t yell at your puppy. Yelling or punishing them will make your puppy scared of you, instead of encouraging them to want to obey you because they want to please you.
  5. Don’t repeat the word “sit.” When you repeat a command, your puppy starts to learn that they don’t have to obey the first time you say it.
  6. Don’t add the word “sit” too early. Similar to the previous mistake, if they hear the word sit but don’t know what it means, they’ll get used to hearing the word and not sitting.

Teaching Your Puppy To Sit [VIDEO]

For a good idea of what training your puppy to sit will look like, check out this video of Zak George teaching this goldendoodle puppy to sit.

Teaching your puppy to sit takes time and repetition, but they’ll get it sooner or later!


When teaching your golden retriever puppy to sit, make sure to set your puppy up for success and then follow the steps below.

  1. Get them to sit by luring them into a sit
  2. Teach them the word “sit”
  3. Teach them a hand signal for sit
  4. Practice sitting in new and challenging environments
  5. Teach them to stay seated

Also, take it slow, don’t expect too much of them, and have fun!

Have any questions about teaching your golden retriever puppy to sit?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who wants to teach their puppy to sit, please share this with them!

P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love our guide to crate training your golden retriever puppy.

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