Blog, Training

Basic Training Commands Every Dog Should Know

Training your dog isn’t just about teaching them basic commands; it’s about establishing a line of communication between you and your pet. Effective training enhances your dog’s safety, improves behavior, eases management, and strengthens your bond. It can transform your dog into a disciplined and responsive companion who can safely interact with other people and animals.

This guide will cover essential training commands that every dog should know, including “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “down.” Each command will be broken down into step-by-step training tips designed to make the learning process both effective for your dog and enjoyable for you. By the end of this guide, you will have the fundamental tools to build a strong foundation of obedience in your dog.

Preparing for Training

Before diving into command training, setting the right foundation is crucial. This section covers selecting the optimal environment, gathering necessary tools, and understanding your dog’s learning behavior to ensure successful training sessions.

Setting Up for Success

The environment in which you train your dog is crucial for their focus and success. Choose a quiet, distraction-free area, especially when beginning training sessions. This could be a secluded part of your home or a calm outdoor area where your dog feels comfortable. A familiar environment without distractions helps your dog concentrate solely on your instructions.

Essential Training Tools

To get started, you will need a few basic items:

  • Treats: Small, tasty rewards for positive reinforcement.
  • Leash: For controlled walking and teaching commands like “heel.”
  • Collar: A comfortable collar that fits your dog properly.
  • Training Clicker (Optional): A tool to mark desired behavior for precise training.

These tools are not only aids but also crucial in enforcing commands and rewarding proper behavior.

Understanding Your Dog

Understanding basic canine behavior and how your dog learns will significantly enhance your training efforts. Dogs respond to consistency and positive reinforcement. They learn best when training involves short, frequent, and fun sessions. Knowing signs of stress, excitement, or confusion in your dog can help you adjust your training methods to be more effective.

Core Training Commands

Each of these commands will include detailed steps, tips, and advice for troubleshooting common problems.


The ‘sit’ command is one of the most fundamental skills every dog should learn. It’s not only a basic part of obedience training but also a way to instill discipline and calmness. You can use it to manage your dog’s behavior in various situations, such as calming them down when visitors arrive or preparing them to receive food or treats.

Step-by-Step Training Process

  • Get Your Dog’s Attention: Hold a treat in your hand so your dog can see it.
  • Lure Your Dog into Position: Slowly move the treat above your dog’s nose and back towards its ears, guiding its head up and back. Your dog’s bottom should naturally lower into a sitting position.
  • Issue the Command: Once your dog begins to sit, clearly say the word “Sit.”
  • Reward Immediately: The moment your dog sits, give the treat and praise enthusiastically. This reinforces the behavior.
  • Repeat: Practice this command several times in short, positive sessions each day.


  • Dog Doesn’t Sit: If your dog doesn’t respond to the lure, gently press down on their rear while guiding them with the treat. Ensure not to push too hard or make this uncomfortable.
  • Dog Stands Up Quickly: If your dog stands up immediately after sitting, try to delay the reward a few seconds longer each time to encourage them to remain sitting longer.
  • Distractions: If external distractions are an issue, reduce them as much as possible during training sessions, gradually introducing them as your dog becomes proficient in sitting on command.


The ‘stay’ command is crucial for controlling your dog’s movements and ensuring they remain in a particular spot when needed. It’s useful in many situations, such as preventing them from running into the street, keeping them stationary when guests enter your home, or simply maintaining control while at the vet or groomer.

Step-by-Step Training Process

  • Command to Sit or Down: Start by having your dog sit or lie down.
  • Introduce the Command: With your dog in the sitting or down position, open your palm towards them, and firmly say “Stay.”
  • Take a Step Back: Start with a small distance, taking just one step back. If your dog stays, quickly return to them and reward with a treat.
  • Gradually Increase Distance: As your dog becomes more reliable, increase the number of steps you take before returning and rewarding.
  • Add Duration: Once your dog masters staying while you move away, begin increasing the time they must stay before getting a reward.


  • Dog Follows You: If your dog gets up to follow you, return them to the original position and start the process over without a reward. It’s crucial to be consistent and patient.
  • Impatience or Anxiety: For dogs that seem anxious or have trouble with ‘stay,’ use shorter intervals and more frequent rewards initially, gradually building up their comfort and duration.
  • Breaking the Stay Early: Always return to your dog to give the reward rather than calling them to you; this reinforces the idea that staying put is beneficial.


The ‘come’ command is essential for recall, ensuring your dog returns to you when called, regardless of distractions. This command is vital for safety, allowing you to quickly call your dog away from potentially dangerous situations. It also reinforces your role as the leader, helping maintain control during off-leash activities.

Step-by-Step Training Process

  • Start with a Distraction-Free Environment: Begin in a quiet area to minimize distractions.
  • Use a Leash: Attach a long leash to your dog to ensure control if they do not respond.
  • Get Down to Their Level: Crouch down or kneel; this is less intimidating and more inviting.
  • Call Firmly and Clearly: Using a friendly tone, say your dog’s name followed by “Come.”
  • Reward Their Arrival: When your dog comes to you, immediately reward them with a treat and affection.
  • Practice with Increasing Distractions: Gradually introduce more distractions as your dog improves.


  • Ignoring the Command: If your dog ignores the call, check your tone (it should be enthusiastic), and ensure the rewards are tempting enough. Practice more in a controlled environment.
  • Distracted by the Environment: Gradually introduce more distractions only after your dog consistently responds in quieter settings.
  • Running Past You: If your dog runs past you instead of stopping at you, use a treat to lure them into sitting in front of you as they arrive, then reward.


The ‘heel’ command is crucial to keep your dog walking calmly by your side during walks, particularly in busy environments. It prevents pulling on the leash, making walks more enjoyable and safer for both you and your dog.

Step-by-Step Training Process

  • Start with Your Dog Beside You: Have your dog sit on your left side.
  • Use the Heel Command: Hold a treat in your left hand near your thigh, say “Heel,” and take a step forward.
  • Reward Short Intervals of Proper Positioning: Give a treat for every few steps your dog stays in the correct position beside you.
  • Increase the Walking Distance Gradually: As your dog gets better at maintaining the position, increase the number of steps between treats.
  • Practice Turns and Stops: Incorporate turns and stops to teach your dog to stay attentive to your movements.


  • Pulling on the Leash: If your dog pulls ahead, stop walking immediately. Call them back to the heel position and start again.
  • Lagging Behind: If your dog lags, encourage them with a cheerful voice and a treat to stay by your side.


The ‘down’ command is useful for promoting calm behavior and submission. It’s often used to manage hyperactivity and excitement in dogs and is essential for times when you need your dog to lay low and stay put.

Step-by-Step Training Process

  • Start from a Sitting Position: Command your dog to sit.
  • Lure with a Treat: Hold a treat in front of their nose and slowly move it straight down to the ground between their paws, then pull it away from them along the ground.
  • Issue the Command: As their body follows their head to lie down, say “Down.”
  • Reward Immediately: Once your dog is lying down, give them the treat.
  • Repeat and Extend the Duration: Practice repeatedly, gradually asking them to stay in the ‘down’ position for longer before rewarding.


  • Refusal to Lie Down: If your dog resists lying down, make sure the surface is comfortable. Also, check your technique to ensure the treat is close enough to their body to follow it down.
  • Breaking the Position Too Soon: Practice increasing the duration gradually and use positive reinforcement to encourage longer durations.

Enhancing Training Effectiveness

To maximize the benefits of training, it’s essential to refine your approach. This section provides strategies for maintaining consistency, using positive reinforcement effectively, and increasing training complexity as your dog progresses.

Consistency is Key

Regular training sessions are crucial for reinforcing learned behaviors and ensuring your dog remembers each command. Consistency in command usage, tone of voice, and rewards helps your dog understand and predict what is expected, reducing confusion. Aim for at least one short training session daily, keeping commands and responses uniform across all family members involved in training.

Patience and Positive Reinforcement

Training a dog requires patience. Progress may be slow at times, but it’s important to remain calm and positive. Use a cheerful voice and body language to make training sessions enjoyable. Reward good behavior immediately with treats, praise, or play—whatever motivates your dog most effectively. Remember, positive reinforcement not only speeds up learning but also strengthens your bond with your dog.

Progression and Challenges

As your dog masters basic commands, gradually increase the complexity of training to keep them engaged and challenged. Start to extend the duration they must hold a command, increase the distance from which you give commands, or slowly introduce new distractions. This builds their skills and confidence. Regularly revisiting basic commands in new contexts also reinforces their training.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

Elevate your training with these advanced techniques. This section offers insights on combining commands, managing distractions, and handling multiple dogs, preparing you to tackle complex training challenges and enhance your dog’s obedience and responsiveness.

Combining Commands

Once your dog is comfortable with individual commands, start combining them into sequences. This prepares them for more complex instructions and behaviors. Begin with two commands, like “Sit-Stay” or “Down-Come.” Give the commands sequentially, rewarding only after the entire chain is completed successfully. Over time, you can build longer sequences to increase their ability to follow multi-step directions.

Dealing with Distractions

Training in distraction-free environments is ideal for beginners, but as your dog progresses, introduce more challenging scenarios. Begin with minor distractions, gradually moving to busier environments like parks or streets. Use a long leash for safety and control. If your dog fails to respond in these settings, temporarily reduce the distraction level and slowly build back up.

Training Multiple Dogs

When training more than one dog, it’s often effective to train them individually at first to ensure each dog understands the commands without interference. Once each dog responds reliably on their own, begin conducting sessions with both present. This teaches them to obey commands even in the presence of other dogs. Use separate rewards to clearly associate correct behavior with each dog’s action.

Recap of What You’ve Learned

Throughout this guide, we’ve explored essential training commands every dog should know—sit, stay, come, heel, and down. Each command has been broken down into clear, step-by-step instructions to help you and your dog succeed in training. We started with basic preparations, highlighting the importance of a distraction-free environment and the necessary tools such as treats, a leash, and a collar. Understanding your dog’s behavior is crucial as it influences how they learn and respond during training sessions.

We emphasized the importance of consistency, which ensures that learning is not only effective but also retained over time. Patience and positive reinforcement were identified as key to creating enjoyable learning experiences and fostering a strong bond between you and your dog. As you and your dog grow more comfortable with basic commands, we discussed methods to increase the complexity of these commands to keep training engaging and challenging.

Advanced training techniques such as combining commands and training in the presence of distractions prepare your dog for real-world situations. Additionally, strategies for training multiple dogs were addressed to help maintain control and focus in multi-dog households.

This guide has equipped you with foundational training techniques and advanced strategies designed to enhance communication, improve behavior, and ensure safety. Whether you’re teaching basic commands or tackling more complex training scenarios, remember that each small step contributes to a lifetime of benefits for you and your dog.