5 Basic Commands EVERY Dog Should Know

Training your dog requires patience, but even high-energy dogs can learn new tricks as well as good manners to keep them safe and happy. Using commands to help your dog understand what you want her to do is essential, but you'll need to get your dog's attention first.

1. Their name

Teaching your pup her name should be the very first thing you do. Once your dog responds reliably to her name, that means your dog will listen when you teach her other commands. Make it exciting for your pup by saying her name with a happy and excited tone of voice. When your dog looks at you, reward her with a tasty treat. Rinse and repeat!

Before moving on to the commands for your dog, get ready by finding a quiet place to start training. If you are in an environment with many distractions, it will be more challenging to get your dog to concentrate.

Decide what rewards work best for your dog before you begin. Some dogs respond better to toys, others to food treats, and still others to gestures of affection. Choose your reward and be consistent so that your dog knows what to expect.

Keep the first sessions short - no more than 15 minutes per day.

Most importantly, arm yourself with patience. Ensure you are relaxed and stay that way throughout so that training sessions are as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for your pup.

Here are the top commands to teach your dog.

2. Look at me

Because you have to get your dog's attention first, it's essential to start with this command. Choose a special treat that will capture your dog's attention, such as a little piece of turkey or chicken breast (skinless).

Hold it in your hand. When your dog sees it, bring it up towards your eye level while you say to your dog, "look at me." Let your dog's attention stay focused on the treat for a few seconds, and then give it to her, saying "Good!"

3. Sit

Teaching your dog to sit gives her the means to control herself, keep herself safe when out on the street, meet new people calmly, etc.

Choose one of her favorite treats. Hold it up to her nose and then lift it over her head while you say "sit." Moving the treat in this direction should get her to sit automatically.

As soon as she sits, say "Good!" and give her the treat. Repeat till she understands.

The next stage is to use the command on its own while holding the treat in your hand. Once again, as soon as she sits, say "Good!" and give her the treat.

You can also try using a hand motion such as pointing down to the floor or holding your palm up so that you can get her to sit in noisy situations where she may not hear you.

Use different parts of the house and outdoors to practice so that she will learn to sit anywhere at any time.

4. Down

"Down" is another useful command to check your dog's impulses and to calm her.

Get your dog to sit in front of you, then hold another treat close to her nose (but don't let her take it). Now, rather than moving the treat up above her head, bring it down in front of her. She should follow it with her nose till she's lying down.

Once again, as soon as she is in the right position with her whole body on the floor (not just her paws), say "Good!" and give her the treat. Try pairing this command with a different hand signal, e.g., lowering your hand as you say, "Down."

Later you can teach her "off" when you want her to get down from something once she's learned other commands. Save "Down" for only those times when you want her to go down on the floor.

5. Come

"Come" is probably the most crucial of all the commands because it can save your dog's life.

You can begin by saying your pup's name followed by "Come" and give her a treat when she reaches you. If you are concerned she might run away from you, try this with a long leash first.

You can also sit down yourself a short distance away and hold out your hand to your pup while saying, "Come." Say "Good!" while giving her the treat when she reaches you. You can gradually sit further and further away till she understands what you want her to do.

Note: Only use "Come" to get your dog to come to you for good things - otherwise, it will backfire! You can tempt her to come to you quickly by using a dog ramp for bed - all you have to do is chill out in bed and call her :-)

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