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The 5 Most Important Commands to Teach Your Dog

Bringing a new puppy into your home is like unleashing an uncontrollable ball of energy on the house. They get in everywhere, want to play with and bite everything, and eat whatever you put in front of them. This is all great fun, but after a few days of wild abandon, there comes a time when you’d just love it if you could get your bundle of fur to sit still for a minute or two. But anyone who has ever had a puppy knows that this is pretty much mission impossible, right?

Not quite. You see, while your puppy wants to have fun, he or she is also quite willing to listen to your commands. All you need to do is teach them the right ones. 

Woman playing with a young dog

Now, there are some trainers that will tell you that you’ll need a series of commands that cover every eventuality and that your dog must understand them all. But the truth is that you can easily get by with the five below. After all, there’s no need to overload your puppy with too much information right from the off. 

Sit

The one command to rule them all. This is the command that can be used in any situation. Once our puppy or dog sits, everything else is breezy. 

Conveniently enough, this is also the easiest command to teach. All you’ll need are a few treats and your voice. 

You simply stand in front of your dog or puppy and hold the treat out a little above their nose. Move the treat back so they lift their head and naturally lower their backside. 

Once that bum hits the floor, say ‘sit’ and give them the treat. 

Repeat until you no longer have to move the treat. You’ll be surprised just how quick they understand. 

Look 

Yes, believe it or not, having your dog look at you can come in quite handy particularly when you’re training them a new command or trick. 

This is also an easy enough one especially if your dog has already mastered the sit command. 

You’ll want to sit very near to your dog and hold a treat in between your eyes. It might feel strange at first, but trust us on this one. 

Hold the treat there and when your dog looks at you or the treat say the command ‘look’. Try to maintain eye contact for a second or two before you give the treat. 

Keep repeating this but as your dog starts to understand, put more distance between the both of you. Eventually, you want to be able to say ‘look’ from across the room, and your dog will obey. 

Come

There is nothing worse than finding yourself stuck in a park chasing a dog or puppy that refuses to come to you. It’s frustrating, tiring, and a little embarrassing too. But it can also be dangerous. You never know what might happen when your dog is off the lead and you need to be able to call them to you and have them come immediately. 

This command is best taught to a puppy or dog that has been trained on the lead. 

You’ll put on the collar and lead and have your dog sit. Then you’ll get down to their level and pull gently on the lead while saying the command ‘come’. 

When they come to you, give them a treat or a hug and lots of praise. 

Repeat as often as you like before trying without the lead and without asking them to sit. You’ll gradually lengthen the distance between the two of you until you can do this from across the garden or at the opposite end of the hallway. 

Stay 

This is very similar to the sit command and to be honest, your dog should know how to sit and come before attempting this one. 

You’ll ask your dog to sit. Then you’ll put up your hand, palm facing out, and say the command ‘stay’ while moving backwards. 

Go back a few feet and then ask them to come and give a treat or hug as a reward. 

Repeat this but try to lengthen the distance each time and even turn your back when walking away. Eventually, you won’t need to tell your dog to sit, you’ll just need to ‘stay’ before walking away. 

Leave it

If you’re in the habit of leaving dinner plates within your dog’s reach, then this is a good one for your dog to learn. Not only that but if you’re out and about and you spot something that might hurt your dog if they pick it up or sniff it, this command can easily prevent an injury. 

This is the toughest one and will take a lot of patience on your part. 

First get two treats and keep one in your closed fist. Let your dog sniff it and make a fuss over it, but do not give it to them. The moment they leave your fist alone, say the command ‘leave it’ and then give them the treat from the other hand. 

It’s important that they never get the treat in your closed fist. You’ll need to do this quite a few times and aim to make eye contact and get them to leave your fist alone the second you say the command. 

Now it gets tough. 

Next, you’ll want to put the treat on the floor and cover your hand with it and follow the same method as before. Once your dog is used to this, you’re going to try it with your hand hovering over the treat. Remember, that you’ll always reward with another treat and not the one on the floor. 

Keep doing this until you can stand up and leave a treat on the floor. It will take quite some time, but your dog will eventually get it and learn not to touch something once you say the command. 

Teach your dog these commands and you’ll be in complete control in practically any situation. But remember, while treats are a great reward, your puppy will get just as much enjoyment from hugs and lots of affection.

Updated on October 10, 2020

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