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Dog Training Basics, Top 5 Commands to Teach Dogs

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Everybody’s got to start somewhere and the same is true when training dogs. When new pet owners come in for help with training their dogs, it can be a touchy subject. After all, the pressure of getting it right the first time can be overwhelming. This is where the five most important commands to teach dogs come in. This is an essential step in building the foundation of the rest of your pet’s training sessions. By learning these commands and effectively implementing them, owners can gain confidence in themselves. More importantly, dogs can build confidence in their owners.


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Sit is one of the easiest commands to teach dogs and one of the most useful. A sitting dog is a calmer dog, relatively speaking. It helps with his agitation and reminds him of who is in charge.

Training dogs to sit doesn’t take much time or effort, either. The most straightforward method for doing so would be to follow the steps below:

  1. Get a treat and hold it in front of your dog, close enough to the nose for your pet to see and smell it.
  2. You then lift the treat over your dog, tracing halfway up an inverted arc from the nose to the rear. You must do it slowly enough for your dog to follow.
  3. Guiding your dog to follow the treat in this manner will eventually lead him to sit on his rump.
  4. After finally getting your dog to sit, you will give a gentle but firm command of “Sit” before letting him have the treat. 
  5. You repeat this process several times until your dog will automatically follow the command even without a treat. 


It’s important to never mess with your dog when you are training him in this manner. You must be deliberate and consistent in your actions to build the habit in your pet.


Commanding your dog to stay is typically combined with the command to make it sit. However, it would be highly recommended to teach dogs the latter first. This will make teaching the former much easier. 

Training dogs to obey the command “Stay” is a crucial method of controlling dogs too. It reinforces your authority over your pet, especially when combined with “Sit.”

As for the steps for accomplishing this, check the simple steps below:

  1. Command your dog to “Sit” while holding a treat. 
  2. Once sitting, give them command “Stay” with the accompanying open palm gesture and take a few steps back. If your dog doesn’t follow immediately, give him the treat.
  3. Repeat this process while increasing the distance each time. 
  4. After you become confident enough in your dog’s progress, you can start giving the command without the treats.


Commanding your dog to stay is one of the best ways to control his behavior. This is important when you need to get things done without your pet getting in the way. It will also keep your dog from becoming unruly when there are guests over. 


After you’ve gotten your dog to sit and stay with no issues, it’s now time to teach your dog to follow you. The command “Come” can have several applications, but in general, it’s about getting your dog to approach you. 

It’s also worth noting that there is more than one way to say it depending on the tone and combination of words. This would then affect the response of the dog.

If your tone is playful, the dog will be enthusiastic. If you are calm, the dog will follow at a more sedate pace. If you are firm and authoritative, your pet will be alert and responsive. 

Regardless of whichever you choose, training your dog to recognize the command can be done using the following methods:

  1. Tie or hook the leash around your dog and say “Come” while gently pulling him toward you.
  2. If the dog is proving stubborn, try to lower yourself to his level while keeping your distance and trying again.
  3. Every time your dog obeys the command, be sure to shower him with affections through words and action.
  4. Repeat the process while increasing the distance and reducing the frequency of pulling the leash.
  5. Once your dog becomes accustomed to the command, remove the leash and do it again while in an enclosed area like your room. 


It’s important to never mix up your message to your dog based on your tone. You must make it clear that you want him to follow you with the appropriate tone of voice. The same goes if you simply wanted to play. 

Leave It

The second-most difficult command on this list, “Leave It” is all about curbing your dog’s baser urges and impulses. Their natural curiosity and playfulness can often cause them to approach dangerous objects or surfaces.

There is also the occasional ripped toys or furniture to consider. By training your dog to obey this command, you can protect your pet and anything he might destroy. 

The process might require more effort than the rest of the commands on this list but it’s worth doing:

  1. Put a treat on each hand, close one into a fist and show it to your dog. 
  2. Say “Leave It” to your pet without budging regardless of how much he might whine or lick your fist. 
  3. Once your dog moves away, you can give it the treat you were holding in the other hand.
  4. Keep doing this until your dog finally leaves your fist with the enclosed treat alone after saying “Leave It.”
  5. The next stage is to wait for your dog to look up at you whenever you conduct this training and give the command. When it does, give him a treat.


The point of this exercise is to let your dog become accustomed to the command. It will allow your pet to become used to the process and respond accordingly.


Last but not least, there is the command “Down,” which can be quite challenging to teach to dogs. This order will require your pet to take a submissive position, which can be difficult for some breeds. This is why it’s important to conduct this training in a relaxed and calm manner. Being upbeat and positive would be even better.

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The training steps themselves are quite straightforward, as you’ll see below:

  1. Get a treat with the most enticing fragrance that you can find and enclose it in your fist. 
  2. Hold your fist close to your dog’s nose to get its attention. 
  3. Once your dog is completely focused on your fist, slowly lower it to the ground. 
  4. Slide your fist along the ground until your dog lowers itself flat.
  5. After he does so, you can then say the command “Down” and give him the treat. 


The difficulty of this training exercise is due to the natural reluctance of dogs to submit. As the owner, however, you need to show that you are in charge. With that said, you must never push your dog down to get him to obey. 

This exercise should be done with encouragement. If your dog tries to rise after getting him to lie down, you just need to say “No” in a gentle but firm voice.


Using the five basic commands discussed here to train your dog is an excellent way to prepare your pet for further sessions. He will know that you are in charge and that will then make him more receptive to additional training. These commands will also form the foundation of more complex orders going forward.

Be patient and stick with your training and, if you are struggling to move forward, K9 Mania Dog Training can help. Contact us today!

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