When getting a new puppy or an untrained rescue dog, we want to do everything right and often do not know where to start.
You would like for him to have good manners and how to behave in public to also avoid potentially dangerous situations.
I have put together 6 basic dog training commands that will help you to train the perfect pup in the first few weeks. You can also attend training classes for obedience training and socialization to make your do reliable even in high distractive environments.
First, you can also take a look at my post about the top 3 dog training secrets to get a better understanding.
When to Start Training a Puppy
I wrote a whole blog post about this question which you can check out here but the quick answer to this would be: immediately. Once the puppy has adapted to his new home, you can start training with him some basic commands.
At this young age, dogs are eager to learn and their curiosity makes them hypersensitive to their environment. This period decides if you will raise a well-behaved companion or an anxious or even aggressive dog. This training doesn’t only involve teaching basic commands, puppies learn some new every second which will influence them in some way.
Always pay attention to your puppy and show him how the world works. In this first few months, you should be prioritizing crate training, potty training, and socialization to prepare him for his
Sit is probably the most basic command a dog can learn and is naturally a very intuitive movement for them. It is the first command that comes to a dog owner’s mind when thinking about obedience training.
How to train: Take a natural and delicious treat and lure your dog’s nose back until his head tilts and he eventually sits. Repeat it a couple of times and add the vocal cue “sit” when he sits and reward him every time.
The down position is a fundamental command for many other tricks. It is also great to settle your dog and ensure that he stays in a lie-down position in your home or in public.
Having your dog in a relaxed position provides you with more control over the situation. The most important command out of this will be the following “stay” command.
How to train: Start with your dog in a “sit” position and lower his nose down to the ground with a treat. His paws will move forward and he will eventually lie down. Reward and repeat and add “lie-down” as the verbal command.
When your dog has already mastered the lie-down command, you can go ahead and train a “stay” with him.
Stay is a more difficult command and it consists of the following three components: distance, duration, and distraction.
If one of these is increased the harder it will be for your dog. Stay is very important and every dog should know this command as it will save you from many bad situations.
How to train: I wrote a whole blog post on how to teach your dog to stay so check it out and then you can continue on reading.
The release command is probably the most underrated and overlooked command out there.
It is so important for your dog to know when he is in command and when not.
For example, when I let my dog off leash on a field, I will get her into a sit, remove the leash and she will not go anywhere until I say “ok go” as a release command. You can choose any term, some people use “free” or “go”.
How to train: Get your dog into a sit and say your release command while motioning with a treat in your hand, so the dog will get up. You will further train this in our next command.
“Leave it” is a perfect command for also training your dog some basic impulse control to not put everything in their mouth and running towards everyone.
How to train: Get your dog into a sit. Toss a treat in front of your dog and tell him to “leave it”. If he goes up to the treat, cover it with your hand and tell your dog to sit again. Try it a couple of times until your dog leaves it alone and then get his eyes on you and tell him the release command.
The “come” command is essential and saves your dog from dangerous situations. Especially if you let your dog off-leash, his recall has to be perfect and he has to immediately come when called.
How to train: Come is a very engaging command. Be interesting and grab a toy to wiggle it on the ground and get your dogs attention. When he walks towards you say “come” and reward him with a quick play. This also works with treats. Slowly increase the distance and always reward!
More Advanced Training Commands
Now that you have trained your dog for a couple of weeks, you can start with some more advanced training commands.
I love heel as a command. It is extremely effective if you have a dog that pulls on the leash and it teaches him to focus on you while walking. If you don’t know what heel is, it is a more formal version of loose leash walking as is preferably perfected without a leash.
I wrote a whole article on how you can teach your dog to heel which you can check out here.
Ask for Permission
Asking for permission is rather a behavior than a command. It is an advanced version of the “look at me” or “watch me” command. You can teach this by simply putting a treat between your fingers and moving it towards your face between the eyes, so your dog will be looking you directly in the eyes. After a few successful attempts, you can then add the desired cue.
We will want the dog to always check with us first before making a decision. This will prevent him from just running where he wants to or chasing anything. For this, you can start with reinforcing the command leave it and pairing it with eye contact.
If your dog wants to sniff on something outside on a walk or wants to greet a person or dog, let him sit and wait for him to look at you. You will want him to make the connection that looking means I can go there, on his own.
Touch or targeting is perfect to redirect your dog’s attention in seconds. This command teaches your dog to touch your hand or any object with his nose. I have attached a great graphic that will show you how to easily teach it.
What to Consider When Training a Dog
Mental training is very important for dogs and puppies and should be a part of your daily schedule. Dogs love training and we want to ensure that it stays that way.
To see the best training results you will always have to be patient and consistent. Always use the same words and same rules for your training and don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work out.
Always pay attention to his body language, if he starts to lay down or has a hard time to pay attention at all, then you should take a break and try it again next time with a shorter session. Pushing your dog too hard will only lead in him disliking the training.
If you want your dog to love training, be enthusiastic and have fun yourself. Your energy will really ignite your dog and rewards will be much more powerful.
Start in a low distractive environment to set your dog up for success if you just started a new command. Once he is well trained in one command, you can then step outside with him and start with maybe your yard. Do not simply throw him into a public place.
You will always want to reward and reinforce positive behavior without punishing the dog. Even if your dog has performed a command a thousand times, you should at least verbally reward his behavior.
Only teach one command at a time and be very clear with your instructions. If you see your dog fail too often, you will have to take a step back and start again with the basics.