5. Sit & Wait (Sit-Stay) Continued...

Exercise 5.4 - Sit & Keep Sitting Drills

This exercise provides 15 great Sit-Stay drills that you can download below and work through to teach your dog how to remain in place despite distractions and temptations to engage in other behaviours.


The drills are very complimentary to Exercise 6.4 where we are working on good doorbell manners and you can use them to structure your practice sessions with your dog in his/her bed or mat at the designated place you have chosen.


The drills will really help you teach your dog:

  • To begin to sit for longer periods of time.
  • To hold position even with distractions.




  • Keep Sitting is a great alternative to otherwise rowdy behaviours such as jumping up on people or scratching at a door.
  • Over time your dog will develop a rock-solid sit, which he will tend to use more and more when he is not sure what to do - plus it will generally have a calming influence on him.
  • If your dog is nervous or anxious in new settings, Keep Sitting will help your dog to focus on you rather than being concerned about what is happening in the world around him.
  • This exercise is also a pre-requisite for Exercise 8.1 where most importantly, we work on maintaining a sit while people approach.

As you move forward, this exercise should be a part of daily life so your dog learns to offer sits in lots of different situations. Once trained, continue to carry some of your dog’s kibble in your pocket and make training Keep Sitting a frequent and random event. This will encourage your dog to always be ready to offer Sitting.


In Exercise 5.3 we started to really teach our dog to remain in place, rewarding him for sitting for different lengths of time with the distraction of your movement around him and until you released him. Once you have that element in place, you are ready for these drills which progressively add more distractions so he learns to remain steady, even when life is happening around him.


The drills are organised in a set of tasks to be completed each day. You can split the tasks up into several sessions per day or with a more experienced dog work through them in longer sessions.


Example drill:

  • Sit for 10 seconds
  • Sit for 5 seconds
  • Sit for 15 seconds while you clap your hands and hum
  • Sit while you disappear from view, knock or ring the doorbell, say "hello," talk for 10 seconds, and return
  • Sit while you run around the dog
  • Sit while you walk back and forth to the door
  • Sit for 30 seconds while you sit in a chair
  • Sit for 15 seconds while you clap your hands and jog
  • Sit for 5 seconds

Once completed in your easy training place, repeat all tasks in different locations and with different family members. Also, repeat all tasks with only every second or third task being rewarded with a treat (intermittent treat reinforcement is a powerful tool in dog training which we’ll talk more about later).


Always remember to work at your dog’s pace and don’t hurry this process, take as many days as your dog needs to be 100% successful. This is a core behaviour for teaching your dog he can remain sitting no matter what is going on around him and it will take time but the results are so worth it!


Exercise 5.4 - Sit and Keep Sitting Drills
Sit and Keep Sitting Drills.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 701.1 KB

Exercise 5.5 - Stay Under Distraction

Four great exercises to see how your dog’s impulse control is developing!



Demonstrates impulse control and the ability to remain stationary with distractions.   

  1. Place your dog in a sit or down
  2. Cue your dog to stay
  3. Place your food bowl approximately 5 to 10 ft. (1.5 – 3 m) in front of the dog, and return to heel position.  
  4. The dog must remain stationary for at least 5 seconds, after which release your dog towards the bowl, using a verbal cue and/or signal.  

Tip: Remember that your dog must move when given the release cue!



Demonstrates impulse control in the presence of a distraction and without eye contact from the handler.

  1. Place your dog in a sit or down
  2. Cue your dog to stay
  3. Place your food bowl distraction on the ground a couple of feet behind the dog. 
  4. Walk away approximately 10 ft. (3 m) forward without looking back at your dog and wait 15 seconds with your back to the dog. 
  5. The dog must not change position or turn around during this time (looking back at the distraction is acceptable). 
  6. Return to your dog and stand in heel position for 1–2 seconds.  The exercise ends at the end of the 1-2 second count in heel position. 
  7. Release your dog to eat the food.


  • You must remain facing away from your dog for the full 15 seconds; no looking back even as you walk away!
  • The exercise does not end until you return to heel position and stand for 1 to 2 seconds — stay silent until you arrive back in position.



Demonstrates self-control in the presence of and approaching distractions.

  1. Set your dog up in heel position
  2. Cue your dog to stay
  3. Place your food bowl 1-2 ft behind your dog
  4. Leave your dog and walk approximately 10 ft forward.
  5. Recall your dog to you and reward in front
  6. Bring your dog back into heel position and ask for attention
  7. Walk a few steps forward in heel back towards the distraction
  8. Cue a position change
  9. Release your dog to eat the food



Demonstrates stationary control in the presence of moving distractions.

  1. Place your dog in a sit or down
  2. Cue your dog to stay
  3. Then arrange your training area with some portable items of equipment or furniture for 20 seconds or so
  4. Release your dog to end the exercise.


Have fun!