Having a well-trained dog who’s obedient with commands, as well as full of fun tricks can be a brilliant companion to have.
For most owners, establishing themselves as the “leader” or alpha in the house, and some basic potty and crate training is quite enough for a fulfilling relationship with their pup.
And why not? Not everyone needs the bells and whistles, too.
However, having a few basic commands taught can be unbelievably handy in certain situations.
Such commands also foster great understanding between you and your puppy. They also build good discipline and confidence as he grows up.
And no, you don’t need a professional trainer. Not in all cases, anyway.
Some dogs may be inherently difficult to teach, owing to their particular nature or personality. The same can be true for owners, of course – teaching doesn’t suit everyone.
But these basic commands are quite simple to teach, when you know what you’re doing!
In any case, it’s ideal to start when he, or she, is still a puppy, when they pick things up and learn quickly.
So let’s take a look at 5 basic, essential commands that you should teach your puppy, and which can be really useful in later training, or particular situations that may call for quick communication between you two.
Perhaps the simplest command you can teach your puppy, and also basic doggy etiquette.
Using the “Sit” command also focuses your dog’s attention, as he sits and waits calmly, and thus can be useful in a variety of situations.
- Start with a treat in your hand, and move It up along your pup’s snout so he looks up following it.
- As he does so, his bottom should start dropping into a sitting position. Encourage the motion.
- Once he’s sitting properly, say the command clearly, and then give him the treat with a healthy dose of patting and affection.
- When he gets the hang of it after several repetitions, try it without the treats.
Remember, each command will take a few days to master. So make sure you practice several times a day for him to pick it up as a matter of course.
This is another really useful command, particularly when there’s trouble around, or you otherwise need your dog to calm down quickly in certain situations.
It’s important, though, that your dog knows the “Sit” command before you get into “Stay”.
- Start with telling your dog to “Sit”.
- Then, stick your palm out in front of his face while giving the “Stay” command.
- Slowly, start backing up.
- Your puppy is bound to move the first few times, but do reward him with a treat and affection even if he sits still for a few seconds.
- Gradually, increase the number of steps you retreat the longer he sits still – while also increasing the reward in something of a proportion
The idea is to get it in his head that the longer he sits still upon the “Stay” command, the more pleased you are with him – so make sure you demonstrate that.
And be patient – teaching puppies to control themselves and not follow you around can take some time, to say the least.
This is an extremely handy command to have at your disposal, particularly when you’re outside, and/or around other people, or creatures, who may not be keen on canine company.
But note that this is a tricky one to teach, the instructions being a little complicated for a dog – so again, be patient.
- Your pup should be leashed for this training. Start with the “Sit” command as square one, with your puppy sitting right by your left foot, both of you facing the same direction.
- Then, while clearly speaking the “Heel” command, and start walking, beginning with your left foot.
- Keep the leash short, so as to make corrections quickly, but don’t let it be tense unless he tries to pull ahead or resist.
- If he stays right by your left leg, encourage and praise him through brief pats or praise alone – don’t distract him from the walk.
- If he starts straying or pulling a bit – merely indicate your displeasure with words or by slapping your leg while saying something like “Here” or “No”.
- If he resists or pulls insistently, stop. Start over again, by getting him to sit by you (don’t adjust your own position to his).
- When you want to stop on the walk, stop in exactly the same position relative to him as you started – with him right by your left foot, and using the “Sit” command.
- Eventually, as he starts getting the sequence, start phasing out the verbal cues to heel and sit, and get things done through body language alone.
- You can also try to teach him to “Stay” when you start with your right foot, but don’t complicate the “Heel” command for him until he gets the basic sequence right consistently.
4. Leave/Leave It/Drop It
Another really useful command, when your dog has something dangerous, or vulnerable in his mouth.
It is also useful if your dog is looking to investigate or confront something or someone you’d rather have him stay away from.
- A command to counter an overly curious puppy can really be a lifesaver!
- Keep treats in both your hands, and show one with the fist enclosed, to your puppy.
- When he tries to get at the enclosed treats, give the “Leave” command.
- He will, of course, not understand and continue to try and get at the treats in your fist. Ignore him completely.
- When he finally stops, praise him, and then give him the treats from your other hand.
- Repeat until he stays away from the enclosed treats on the “Leave” command.
- For the “Drop it” command, train him using a toy, praising and treating him each time he drops it on command.
- Initially he won’t understand the command, of course. You will have to surprise him into dropping it by saying it loudly. Or alternatively, by prising his jaws open with your hands while saying the command.
This is another one of the simpler commands, akin to “Sit”.
- Put your puppy on a leash, and call out “Come” while gently pulling on it.
- You can alternatively draw him towards you by placing a treat at your feet to get his attention. But do so only after giving the command.
- When he arrives of his own accord, praise and treat him, and then repeat the training.
Here’s a cool infographic on how to train your dog to sit and stay:
Did you find these training tips helpful? Are there any other commands that you believe are truly essential for basic obedience and safety? Do share your opinions with us and other readers in the comments section below!
And do remember that we have a much more comprehensive training manual in our Dogology Blueprint! Check it out for in-depth advice and tips on how to bring up and train your puppy, be it housebreaking, leash behavior, or even training tailored for super-active dogs!