Five Basic Obedience Commands Your Dog Should Learn


The love and joy dogs bring into the lives of new pet parents is immense. Owners enjoy unconditional love from their canine companions. But problems like sneaking food off the counter, barking loudly and causing a ruckus, running off in a park, and getting into dangerous items, can arise as pets adjust to their new environment.

Obedience training will not only teach your puppy to behave better, it will keep them safe. It is never too late for dogs to learn, but the earlier they learn, the better.

Training is important for several reasons.

First, obedience training helps pets adjust to family life. It helps socialize dogs, who are pack members by nature. It will teach them how to interact with their owners, environments, and strangers.

Second, training teaches your pet what is required of them.

"Obedience training can help your #dog adjust to family life and teaches what is required of her." TWEET THIS

We have a few basics to help dog owners train their pets. Follow these tips and your dogs can become happy, well-adjusted members of the family. 

When Should Training Begin?

The American Veterinary Society says that training should start during the puppy's first three months of life. Puppies are fast learners and quickly adapt to their environment. At this age, curiosity outweighs fear. Puppies can become fearful and aggressive if they aren't trained during this crucial period. Expose puppies to as many new people, places, and animals as possible.

Start teaching your pet basic commands and proper behaviors, but don't expect them to learn immediately. Mastery happens incrementally.

Crate Training Basics

Crate training will help your puppy adjust to staying inside of its enclosed area. You'll need to make this a positive, enjoyable experience. Here are a few fundamentals to follow.

  • Choose the right size crate. Make sure the area isn't too large or too small. It should have enough space for your dog to stand and turn around.
  • Place a blanket or chew-proof bed inside the crate. If your dog is a chewer, opt for a chew-proof bed to ensure it isn't able to be ingested.
  • Put in some of your dog's favorite toys.
  • Let them explore the area without forcing them to go into it.
  • Allow your dog to get comfortable.
  • Always make its crate a happy place.
Things to Avoid
  • Don't use a crate to punish your dog. Your dog will associate it with negative experiences and avoid it.
  • Don't let your dog out just because they are barking. They will bark more if they learn that's all they need to do to be released.
  • Don't keep your dog inside longer than it can hold its bowels or bladder. Limit your pet's time to two or three hours.

Five Basic Commands You Can Teach Your Dog

According to the American Kennel Society, dog training is based on the foundational concepts of correction and reward.

What is Correction? It means teaching your dog the difference between good and bad behavior. Correcting your puppy should not include punishment, physical violence, or spanking. Saying a firm "No," to your puppy will suffice.

What is a Reward? These are treats given to the puppy for a job well done. These items can be anything your dog loves, like a toy or a favorite food. When your dog behaves, say, "Good dog," then shower it with praise.

When starting training, here are five basic commands your dog should learn.

1. The "Sit" Command

The sit command is the easiest and most important in dog training. It the foundation for other training techniques.


  1. Hold a reward treat in your hand and kneel in front of your dog.
  2. Put the treat to your pet's nose.
  3. Lift your hand upward.
  4. Tell your canine to sit.
  5. If your dog lifts its head to bite the food, use your other hand to guide his backside down into a sitting position.
  6. As it sits down, say, "Sit."
  7. When your pet follows the command, praise it.
  8. Repeat this command several times daily.
2. The "Heel" Command

Training your dog how to heel is a second fundamental. It teaches your pet to walk next to you, instead of in front. Its head is even with your knee. This command will teach your dog how to walk properly on a leash.

  1. Collar and leash your dog.
  2. Place your dog in a sitting position.
  3. Hold its leash in your left hand.
  4. Put the squeaky toy in your right one above the animal's head.
  5. Start walking with the toy in front while saying the "Heel" command.
  6. Get your pet's attention by squeaking the toy.
  7. If it gets distracted or pulls in front, stop walking immediately.
  8. When it pays attention again, praise your pet and give them the toy.
  9. Once your dog gives you 30 seconds of attention, begin walking again.
  10. Increase times before you reward your pet.
  11. Repeat this process daily.
3. The "Down" Command

This command is a difficult one to learn for dogs. The benefits, however, are amazing. It can help anxious or scared dogs relax.

  1. Get a nice smelling treat and hold it in your closed hand.
  2. Place your hand up to your dog's nose.
  3. Allow it to sniff the treat.
  4. As your pet smells it, move your hand to the floor.
  5. Allow your pet to follow it.
  6. After your dog is in the prone position, say "Down."
  7. Give your dog the treat and praise it.
  8. Repeat this training daily.

Note: Never push your dog into a down position. If your pet gets up, say "No," and take away your hand. Eventually, your dog will figure out the right action.

4. The "Stay" Command

This exercise will teach your dog self-control.

  1. Command your pet to sit.
  2. Open your palm and put it in front of you.
  3. Say, "Stay."
  4. Step backward.
  5. If your dog stays put, give him the reward and praise.
  6. Increase the number of steps you take each time.
  7. Always reward your dog for staying, even if only for a short time.
5. The "Leave it" Command

This command can help a dog stay safe when if it becomes curious about a dangerous object.

  1. Put a treat in both hands.
  2. Show your puppy one closed fist with the treat inside.
  3.  Your dog will probably try to get the treat.
  4. Say "Leave it," to your dog.
  5. Once it stops, give your pet the treat from the other hand.
  6. Next time, wait for your dog to move away from your first fist.
  7. Say, "Leave it."
  8. Only give your dog the treat when it moves away. Make sure it makes eye contact with you.

Phase Two

Once your dog has mastered the first phase, you're ready for intermediate training.
  1. Use two different value treats in your hand. One is a low-value treat, the other is a high-value one.
  2. Place the low-value one on the floor.
  3. Cover it with one hand.
  4. Tell your pet to "Leave it."
  5. When your dog ignores the treat and looks at you, remove the okay treat from the floor.
  6. Give him his favorite treat.
  7. Praise him for obeying.
  8. After your pet has mastered phase two, you are ready for advanced training. Practice the command with your puppy standing up.
  9. Use the same steps above.
Your pet should be healthy before starting any training program. We recommend that pets undergo an examination from South Boston Animal Hospital to evaluate their well-being. Contact us to schedule an appointment today and feel free to reach out with any training questions you may have.