Basic Dog Commands and How to Teach Them

You can own a dog and not train him but you'll be sorry down the line. Besides giving you a well-mannered, secure dog, obedience training has many benefits. For one, it increases the bond between dog and human. It also helps you understand your dog...


You can own a dog and not train him but you’ll be sorry down the line. Besides giving you a well-mannered, secure dog, obedience training has many benefits. For one, it increases the bond between dog and human. It also helps you understand your dog and helps him understand you. It sets up boundaries for your dog and helps to avoid misunderstandings, such as the belief that it’s OK to eat the couch. It actually helps prevent behavior problems such as digging and jumping. And it increases confidence in both you and your dog.

Once your dog has graduated from obedience class (with honors, of course), there are advanced training techniques that might interest both of you. Agility Training is excellent exercise for your dog (and you) and there are competitions around the country. Your dog could go on to earn his Canine Good Citizen certificate or he could become a therapy dog. Not only does obedience training create a well-behaved dog, it opens up opportunities for you and dog to share.

Basic Commands in Obedience Training


  • Stand with a treat in your hand, held in front of your puppy’s nose.
  • Say “Sit” and move the treat upwards, toward your puppy’s head.
  • As you do this, your pup’s backend should naturally sink down into a sit. If not, you can gently push his rear down when you say “Sit” the next time.
  • Praise and give treats when he accomplishes the sit. Practice this several times a day.

Leave It!

  • Have your puppy sit.
  • Place a treat or a toy right in front of him.
  • Say “Leave it!” and keep your hand close to the object.
  • If he moves toward it, cover it with your hand and repeat “Leave it!”
  • Remove your hand again and wait a few seconds.
  • Praise him. Repeat daily and build up the time he has to leave the treat or toy.

Watch Me!

  • Get your puppy’s attention and show him a treat in your hand.
  • Slowly raise it to your forehead saying “Watch me!” as you do.
  • Eventually stop using the treat and get him to “watch you” simply by saying the command and raising your hand to your face.


  • Have your puppy sit in front of you with a four or six foot leash on and have a treat in your hand.
  • Say “Watch me!” to get his attention,
  • Squat down slightly, pat your thighs and say “Come!”
  • Pull lightly on the lead and pull your puppy gently toward you, hand over hand.
  • Reward with praise and the treat. Practice this for a week or so then, in a contained area such as your fenced yard, start working on it without the lead.

Beyond Basic Commands in Obedience Training


  • Make your puppy sit next to you.
  • Putting the palm of your hand in front of him, say “Stay!”
  • Take a step or two back.
  • If he moves, calmly return to his side and repeat. Keep moving back further when he stays.
  • Reward when he stays, even if for just a few seconds.


  • Get your puppy to sit in front of you.
  • Show him a treat and slowly lower it to the floor in front of him while saying “Down!.
  • If he doesn’t go down all the way, gently pull his front legs forward until he does.
  • As soon as he’s down, praise and reward him.


  • Sit your pup.
  • Put your hands under his belly near his backend and gently pull up while saying “Stand!”
  • Reward him when he does. At the beginning, you might need to keep you hand under his belly to keep him from sitting back down.

There are many different types of training. The commands described here are very basic and your trainer may have other methods. You can certainly start the training on your own but it’s recommended that your dog at least go to one basic obedience training class. In addition to getting hands on instruction, you can ask questions specific to your dog and your dog gets a lesson in socialization. And obedience training might just keep you and your pooch out of the therapist’s office.

3 thoughts on “Basic Dog Commands and How to Teach Them”

  1. Let me start by saying, I will try to make a long story short. My husband and I just got a six month old german shepard from a couple four days ago. According to them, the only reason they were letting her go, was because they had other animals and felt they didnt have time to spend with her like she needed. But so far everything they told us about her has seemed to be complete lies. She was supposed to be good with all types of other animals, of all sizes, and good with children, both of which were very important to us. She was supposed to have been house broken, and she would walk on a leash. We got her home and she was terrified of Everything. She acted like she had Never been touched by a human at all, she still does to some degree. All she wanted to do was hide in a kennel. My husband had to pull her out of it, using all his strength to do so. She is still not eating like she should be, but she has improved some about wanting to ‘crawl in a hole’ when you try to pet her. She is very sweet, seems to be smart, but it appears to me she has had Very Limited human contact. Today I discovered she is Not Tolerant of kids at all, they terrify her to the point that I really think she would have bitten my grandson, if he had been close enough. I’m not ready to give up on her yet. Please help. Thank you. Rose Mary

    1. Hi Rose,

      Thanks for reaching out! We suggest working with a professional trainer / behaviorist in this situation. These articles may provide some insight, but this is a situation where you should really call in a pro. Best of luck!

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