7 Essential Dog Commands: A Comprehensive Guide

Training a dog requires the use of command “signals”, which are used to help your pup understand what you want him to do. These commands guide your dog to successful social behavior and keep him away from danger in any situation. To begin with, it's important to understand the seven basic commands that every pup should know.

Sit Down

- This command is one of the easiest to teach and is usually the first command presented to a dog or puppy.

To teach this command, use the “decoy” method. Grab a treat that you know he really loves and hold it close to his nose. Then, move it up and above his head while saying, “Sit down.” Usually, your pup's nose will follow you and the direction will make his body feel automatically. As soon as his furry butt touches the floor, say “OK” and give him a treat.

Repeat until he understands what you want him to do. Over time, don't use one treat every time. Instead, give him a kiss, a compliment or a toy.


- A “down” position is a more stable position than “sitting” to let your pup calm down. Teaching the “down” command also uses the decoy technique.

Put your pup in a “sit” in front of you and then hold a treat close to his nose, but not close enough for him to pick it up. Move the treat down in front of him and his nose will follow until he is in bed. As soon as he is completely “down”, that is, with his whole body on the floor, say “OK” and give him the treat. Then, start combining the command with a hand signal, such as extending your hand with your palm facing down and lowering it while pronouncing the word “down”.


- Teach “no” as a separate command, but not until you master the basic commands.

This is a vitally important command because it can save a dog's life. Start by simply saying the name of your pup followed by “no” and give him a treat when he stops whatever he was doing. You can also use a long leash to let you know it won't run away from you.


- This command is for those situations in which your pup already has something in his mouth that you don't want him to have. Sit a few meters away and say the word “come” and spread the treat.

Give it to him when he's around and remember to use the word “good” as reinforcement. Gradually increase the distance until he reliably understands what you want him to do.

Leave It

- Use “leave it” before your pup has picked up anything. Put a treat on the floor and cover it with your hand. Have another treat in your other hand that is more attractive to your pup.

As soon as he smells the treat that is on the floor, under your hand and tries to pick it up, say “leave it” and show him the other treat.

Drop It

- This command is for those situations in which your pup already has something in his mouth that you don't want him to have. The “drop it” command can prevent your pup from eating anything on the street that could make him sick or worse. Wait until he has the toy in his mouth, show him the treat and say, “Let it fall.” If he doesn't drop it right away, hold the treat close to his nose until the toy drops in his mouth to grab the treat.


- This applies to all of the following commands. Use this command when you want your pup to stay put for a certain amount of time or until you call them back.

To teach this command, use a “bait and switch” tactic. Use treats as rewards when they stay put for longer periods of time. Training your pup requires patience and consistency but can be incredibly rewarding for both of you! With these seven basic commands mastered, you can be sure that your pup will be well-behaved in any situation.

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