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How to train your dog with five basic commands

Training your dog may seem a bit daunting at first, but it is an extremely valuable and rewarding experience that will be beneficial for both of you. It will help you increase the bond you have with your dog and means that when you are out and about you will have the confidence to give them the freedom they need.

Woman checking dog's PitPat on it's collar

You might wish to enrol your dog in obedience classes, but if you aren’t able to get to them, don’t worry. You can easily train your dog from the comfort of your own home. All you will need are some items to reward your dog such as treats, their favourite toy or lots of praise.

Training will be hard work for you and for them. After all, training will count towards your dog’s daily exercise, so it is a good idea to use a dog activity monitor like PitPat, to track all their activity to make sure they’re not getting too much.

As with all training it is important to make sure the foundations are in place first, so here are five basic commands to get you started.

Command 1 – Sit

White dog licking man's face

This is a great place to start as it’s one of the easiest commands. It’s also very valuable as it will be one of the ones you will use most frequently in your daily life.

  1. Hold a treat in your hand and stand in front of your dog.
  2. Hold the treat to their nose so that they can smell it.
  3. Lift you hand up into the air and tell your dog to sit
  4. If they try to get to the treat or start to move then just gently guide their hind legs back down into the sitting position
  5. As they sit down repeat the ‘sit’ command
  6. When they follow the command, make sure to praise them verbally as well as giving them the treat

Command 2 – Heel

Woman walking a dog

This command teaches your dog how to walk next to you and is extremely useful for when you are walking them on a lead.  Although this can sometimes be easier outside where there is a bit more space, you can easily do this in your living room too.  This technique works best if you use a squeaky toy as their reward.

  1. Put your dog’s collar and lead on
  2. Make sure you dog is in the sitting position and take the lead in your left hand
  3. Hold the squeaky toy above their head in your right hand
  4. Begin to walk, holding the toy slightly in front of you while saying ‘heel’
  5. Get your dogs attention by using making the toy squeak
  6. If they get distracted and start to move in front of you, stop walking straight away
  7. When they come back to your side, praise them and give them the toy
  8. Then, when standing still ask your dog to give you attention for at least 30 seconds before you begin walking again
  9. Repeat the process, slowly increasing the amount of time before you reward them

Command 3 – Down

White dog pawing man for a treat

This can be a tricky one for some dogs to learn,  but it can be very helpful as many dogs find holding the ‘sit’ position for a long period of time difficult.  The down position can also keep your dog calm as it is a more submissive state than sitting.

  1. Choose a treat and hold it tightly in your hand
  2. Bring your closed hand close to your dog’s nose
  3. As they are smelling your hand, bring your hand lower to the floor.
  4. Let your dog follow your hand and once they are in the right position, say ‘down’
  5. Then let them have the treat and make sure to give them lots of praise

Command 4 – Stay

Dog sat in forest

This is probably the hardest one to teach your pup as lots of dogs are not big fans of being still. So take things slowly over several short sessions, and once you have mastered it you will be able to use it in all kinds of situations, such as opening your front door or getting out of your car.

  1. Get your dog to sit
  2. Open your palm and hold it out in front of you
  3. Say ‘stay’
  4. Move one step backwards
  5. If your dog stays where they are, praise them and give them their reward
  6. Repeat the process, increasing how many steps you take each time

Command 5 – Leave

Children with Vizsla

Dogs are very curious and sometimes they like to investigate things they shouldn’t. So it’s important that you know how to get your dog to drop or leave something that could be harmful to them.

  1. Put a treat in both of your hands
  2. Bring one of your hands close to your dog’s nose
  3. Chances are your dog will try and see if they can get to the treat
  4. Simply say ‘leave it’ and once they stop, reward them with the treat from your other hand.
  5. Next time wait until they have moved away from the first hand before saying ‘leave it’, and only give the other treat once they have fully moved away

At the end of every training session make sure that you finish on a command your dog knows really well. This will end things on a positive note and make sure that your dog will be excited to train with you again.

To see just how much energy they are putting into your training sessions together, use PitPat to track their exercise and help you to manage their fitness, so you can keep training together for many years to come.

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