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Determining If Your Dog Understands SIT

Students often ask, “How can I tell if my dog understands what I’m teaching him or her?” How we assess a dog’s training can vary with what we’re teaching, the environment where we are testing them, and the dog and their physical and emotional status at that particular point in time.

Below you will find one method you can use to assess how well your dog understands a simple behavior like sit.

You will give your dog a single visual or verbal cue and look for them to respond in 1 to 2 seconds, eight times out of 10 in each of these scenarios:

Mixed breed dog wearing a leash and harness sitting on some playground equipment
Can your dog respond 8 out of 10 times in a distracting environment?(Photo by Joseph Pisicchio on Unsplash.)
  • In three different rooms in your home
  • For three family members
  • With you standing in front of the dog
  • With you sitting in a chair with the dog in front of you
  • With you sitting on the floor with the dog in front of you
  • In three different places in your yard
  • In three other locations away from your home
  • In a distracting environment


The ultimate test can be if you can lie on your back in an environment where you usually play with your dog, and they will respond to your cue.





About the Author

Don Hanson and Muppy
Image provided by Don Hanson

Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop and the founder of, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), serving on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairing the Advocacy Committee. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show podcast.  You can find more Words, Woofs and Meows About Cats and Dogs and Their Behavior and Needs on Don’s blog. 

The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©21-Jun-22, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved

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