I used to think dog training was kind of mean. I thought it was about people wanting to make dogs do things that they didn’t want to do. Turns out I was wrong (shocking, I know). Dogs that are trained right are happier and their people are happier too. Want to learn the 6 commands to teach your dog that will make you both happier? Then check this out.
Over the last few weeks we talked about how dogs learn and taken a look at going punishment-free when training, now it’s time to start with the 6 basic commands make both your and your dog’s life’s better.
We’ve got to start at the basics because simply put, they are the ones you’ll most commonly need. In fact, knowing these commands can also help your dog to learn more complicated ones in the future, apart from setting the stage of how you and your dog will go about in your training sessions.
Today, we’re going to look at 6 basic training commands as well as how you could teach them to your dog. We’re excited to be going through this with you, and the upcoming weeks also mark more posts on other training commands that will come in handy.
But for today, we’ll just be focusing on these 6. Each training method will stay true to the GoodDoggies mark and remain positive and rewards-based.
Shall we begin?
Possibly the most basic of all commands, each dog should know how to respond accordingly when told to “Sit”. Also, it’s one of the easiest to teach, so that’s convenient for both you and your dog to start off with something easy.
Start off by putting a treat in front of your dog’s nose. No matter how persistent she is, don’t allow your dog to get the treat until it’s the right time!
Move your hand up, and your dog tilting her head to follow the treat should get her bottom half to lower to the ground automatically.
Once your dog’s sitting, say “Sit” in a clear voice and give her the treat (and some praises and affection too).
Download our FREE printable cheat sheet that you can use to get your dog to come everytime.
Repeat a few times each day until your dog has mastered it. Then, you can use it in scenarios where you want your dog to settle and calm down, like before a meal or when she catches sight of her leash.
This one is for getting your dog into a submissive or relaxed position, which is important for when you have to go to a place where your dog will tend to become too hyped to listen to your commands.
Tell your dog to sit. Show her the treat and lower it to the floor while pulling it closer to you to entice your dog to slide down from her sitting position. Don’t allow your dog to lunge at the treat prematurely by saying “No” in a strict voice (but don’t yell it).
Once your dog’s belly is flat on the ground, reward and praise.
There’s another method to teach your dog this command called the ‘Under-The-Leg method’ albeit it’s a little more complicated. However, if the food lure doesn’t work for your dog, you can always try that out.
Repeat regularly until your dog follows the command even with no treats.
Once your dog knows how to sit and go down on command without pause, you can begin teaching her how to stay. This can be quite tricky if your dog is the hyper sort.
Tell your dog to sit or stay down. Once she’s settled, hold up your hand in front of her nose with the palm up and say “Stay”.
If your dog holds the position, reward her. After a while, begin taking a step backward to test if your dog follows and reward if your dog follows the “Stay” command, even if just for a split second.
Then, gradually increase the amount of steps you take before rewarding. This will ensure that your dog will learn how to stay seated for increasing amounts of time.
Like with sitting, practice regularly until your dog has the hang of it. If your dog can’t keep still for too long, don’t feel frustrated, as it’s normal especially for dogs with high energy levels. Reward the tiniest improvements, until such time that you have built up your dog’s staying power.
This one is necessary if you want your dog to step away from something and heed your calls. This is especially useful if your dog tends to run away from you to explore on her own or just generally doesn’t come when called.
Put on a collar and leash on your dog, one of the instances when you may have to tell your dog to “Come” is when you’re out on a walk and you accidentally let go of the leash. Plus, you’re going to need the leash to drive the point of this command home.
Go down to your dog’s level and say “Come” while giving the leash a gentle tug or pull to indicate that you want your dog to go closer to you.
Once your dog reaches you, reward her.
Another way to do this one without the collar and leash is to go to a closed in area like a room or a fenced yard. Ask your dog to sit, stay, and then walk away from her.
Call out your dog’s name and say “Come” in an inviting voice, while enticing her to go to you with a treat in your hand. Again, give the reward once your dog reaches you.
If your dog gets distracted on the way and starts to wander off, simply say “No” and wait until she refocuses back to you.
Once your dog knows the command and how to properly respond to it, start practicing it in areas where there could be more distractions and temptations lying around.
Dogs like to explore, and sometimes what they bound off to sniff or chew at isn’t always very safe for them. Teaching them the command “Leave it” will ensure that you can always tell them to leave something potentially harmful alone.
It can also be used in conjunction with “Come” as you can call them back to you once they leave the thing alone.
The training for this one’s going to be a bit trickier, as you’ll have to teach your dog to ignore something enticing in exchange for something better.
Start off with two treats in each hand, one that’s better quality than the other. Show your dog the hand with the less tasty treat, then close that hand into a fist. Say “Leave it” and ignore your dog’s attempts to mouth, bite, sniff, or lick at your hand.
Once your dog stops any attempts to get that treat, present her with the better treat that’s in your other hand and reward it to her along with some praise. Repeat this until your dog associates the command with ceasing the attempts to get the first treat.
After your dog consistently follows the command after some repetition, you can level up the training by setting the less tasty treat on the floor and covering it with your palm.
If your dog still responds properly to “Leave it”, start increasing the temptation by making the less tasty treat more accessible by lifting up the hand that’s covering it a few inches at a time, keeping the training up and only rewarding and praising if your dog consistently leaves that treat alone in favor of your better tasting reward.
Over time, the command will take hold no matter how tempting the treat is, like a steak on the dining table. Also, note how the video shows that commands can be stacked up over time for more effective behavioral modification!
Not to be confused with “Down”, this command is for getting your dog to get off people and surfaces they jump on, like the dining room chair. Overexcited dogs can jump up on humans, especially if they’re just meeting them, training your dog to follow the “Off” command will remind them to keep all of their feet on the ground.
The training for this one would be a little different from the other basic commands we’ve discussed so far, as you’ll have to wait until your dog’s actually doing the behavior you’re trying to correct (like jumping up the sofa) before you can start training them the word “Off”.
So you catch your dog on one of the chairs at the dining table, front paws already up on the table (a scenario I’ve had the misfortune of seeing a few times in our own house, I still miss those pancakes…). Say “Off” and lure your dog away with a treat in your hand.
The moment all of your dog’s paws are on the ground, give her the reward.
Same thing goes if you find your dog on your bed, the sofa, with paws up the counter, and so on.
It would be handy to keep treats in strategic places so you won’t have to run off to get them and miss the opportunity to teach your dog the command in the process. Just make sure that those strategic places aren’t your dog’s next targets.
Always use the same command. Don’t use “Come” the first few times then switch to “Come here”, as it will only confuse your dog.
Similar to clicker training, give your rewards as promptly as possible in order for the association to click faster.
Chances are you’re training your dog to act against her impulses, and that’s understandably hard. Be patient and never ever use physical punishment to intimidate them into following the commands.
Not every command will be a breeze or will take the same pace to learn as the others. You’ll just have to take your time and ensure that you’re not pressuring your dog to learn the commands.
The more stressful you turn your training sessions into, the less likely it will be for your dog to learn and trust you. In fact, it can ruin your bond and make your dog even less obedient if you scare them instead of exuding a calming presence.
Then gradually move to more complex commands. Just like you wouldn’t teach a child geometry before teaching them basic operations, you wouldn’t start teaching your dog how to stay without first teaching her how to sit.
This gives your dog the impression that their response doesn’t have to be as prompt as the first time you say it.
Once your dog gets the basic idea for a command, you can make them more sporadic, as the element of a surprise treat can motivate your dog even more. As time passes by, only reward the best and promptest responses. Then, you can begin phasing out rewards altogether.
Don’t aspire to make your dog an expert in one sitting. The longer your training sessions take, the more likely it is for your dog to lose interest in the lesson.
Just because your dog has ‘mastered’ a command and your attentions are on a new command, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t brush up on the ones already in your repertoire. Keeping it fresh in your dog’s mind will ensure that your commands will be followed even at the most unexpected of times.
The 6 commands to teach your dog that will make you both happier are as follows: sit, down, stay, come, leave it, and off. As previously mentioned, these are just the basics of commands. There are more that you could teach your dog, but these are the primary ones that you should focus on at the start.
Not only will these commands be the pillars of the rest, they’re also the most important so that you and your dog and live harmoniously with other dogs and people around you. A lot of these commands have something to do with keeping your dog’s impulse control on a more manageable level, and it’s the best start to more complicated training endeavors.
We also hope that the additional training tips can help you as you start off training your dog. We’ll see you next time for more dog training tips, do leave a comment below to share with us your own dog training experiences!
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