Five Basic Dog Commands Your Dog Needs To Know

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Having a well-behaved and obedient dog that follows all cues is every dog owner’s dream. Luckily, if you start training your dog with basic commands as soon as you bring them home, the dream will become reality.

Most novice owners think that puppies have short attention spans and can’t be trained from an early age, but this is not true! Your dog’s training begins as soon as you bring them home and continues for the rest of their life.

So whether you have adopted an adult dog or brought home a new puppy, it’s never too early to start teaching them essential dog training commands. 

I remember how much fun my pooch and I had during puppy training, and looking back I’m extremely grateful that we started training the very first day.

Basic dog commands

You see, over the years those simple basic commands have saved my dog’s life on more than one occasion, and I strongly believe that every dog should know today’s 5 essential obedience commands. 

To help you accomplish that and start your pup on the right track, I’ll list the five commands every dog needs to know and also tell you how to teach your dog those commands. Continue reading to learn more! 

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The Importance Of Teaching Your Dog Commands

The importance of training your dog can’t be stressed enough! Without proper training and knowledge of basic dog commands, your pooch will likely be unruly, difficult to control on walks, and may even end up hit by a car or injured in some other way. 

For starters, a properly trained dog, won’t pull on the leash during walks. Dogs that know the “come” command are less likely to run off and end up hit by a car or attacked by a pack of stray dogs. Furthermore, teaching your dog to “leave it” can literally save their life if they come across a toxic wild mushroom or some other type of dangerous substance while out and about. 

But before you actually start teaching your pup common commands you will need to get familiar with dog training methods and techniques. Using positive reinforcement will get your pup on the right track and help you reinforce good behavior and encourage obedience. 

The idea behind this type of training is to encourage a certain behavior using something your dog values. For most dogs, nothing is as motivating as food, so you can use high-value treats like small pieces of boiled chicken breast, low-fat cheese, or dog kibble as a reinforcement. Besides treats, use praise or your dog’s favorite toys as rewards that will encourage desired behavior. 

And before I go ahead with the detailed dog training commands list, you should know to always keep the training sessions short and sweet. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day is all that it takes for your puppy or adult dog to learn the essential dog training commands in just a week or two. 

If your pup is having a hard time learning a new command, end the training session early. However, don’t cut the lesson short before asking your dog to obey a command they already know and praising and rewarding them copiously for their efforts. 

Staying positive through the entire lesson and ending each training session on a positive note is super important! It will keep your pooch interested in learning and increase your chances of teaching your dog obedience at home. 

If you just brought a new pooch home and don’t know which commands to teach them first, this is where you should start. Below, you will find a list of dog training commands that will be the staple of your pup’s training and may even help when dealing with behavioral problems. 

Five Essential Commands To Teach Your Dog 

As mentioned earlier, a dog that is trained to respond to your commands is less likely to come into harm’s way while being outside. So, don’t waste another second—start teaching your pup obedience today, beginning with:

1. The Heel Command

If you’ve ever come across an owner who had to run after their dog to avoid being dragged on asphalt, know that they haven’t trained their dog to “heel.” If you want to be the one who walks your dog without being pulled like a puppet, this is the first command you’ll want to teach your pooch.

In obedience training, “heel” means that your dog is walking on your left side with their head being even with your knees and without pulling on the leash. The goal of training your puppy to “heel” is to teach them to walk slowly on a loose leash without pulling you around or dictating the tempo. 

Keep in mind, some professional trainers opt to use “let’s go” or “forward” instead of “heel” as a cue. But you can use whatever cue you want as long as you always use the same word as the command. 

Before you start training your puppy to “heel,” you should make sure they won’t object to wearing a leash. Very young puppies might try to bite the leash the first couple of times, but that should stop as your dog gets used to being tethered. To get your pup used to a leash, give them a tasty treat whenever you hook the leash on their collar. 

Stand next to your pup, keeping the leash loose in your hand, and give your dog several treats for standing or sitting calmly by your leg. Then, take one step forward and motivate your pup to follow by offering them another treat. Keep on walking and giving your pup treats as long as they are at the same level with your knee.

If your pup goes in front of you or attempts to pull on the leash, turn around, start walking in the opposite direction, and call your pup to follow. Once they come to you, praise and give them a reward for coming and then continue walking. 

As your dog’s training sessions progress, start giving them treats further apart. Instead of rewarding them on every step, reward your pup on every fifth step and so on. Eventually, your dog will walk calmly by your side whenever you are out. 

2. The Sit Command

Teaching your dog how to sit is one of the most basic commands to teach them, making it a great command to start. Knowing how to sit also prepares your dog to learn harder commands such as “come” and “stay.” 

To teach your pup how to sit, get in front of them using a treat as a lure and holding it right in front of your pup’s nose. Don’t allow your dog to grab the treat; instead slowly lift the treat over their head. In this situation, most dogs will sit down and lift their head to get closer to the treat.

Once your dog’s bum touches the floor, give them the treat. Repeat the same steps a couple of times and then just use your empty hand to lure your dog into sitting. However, continue rewarding and praising your dog after they sit. 

When your dog starts recognizing the hand signal for sitting, you can start saying “sit” before you give the hand cue. With a bit of time, patience, and lots of treats and praise, your pup will sit on command every time. 

3. The Stay Command

The “stay” command is another basic cue that can help you better control your dog. Before you try to teach your dog to stay, make sure they know the command “sit” properly. If your dog doesn’t know how to sit on cue, spend more time training this command before moving to the “stay” cue. 

First, tell your dog to sit and then open the palm of your hand in front of you and say, “Stay.” Wait a few seconds and then reward and praise your pup for staying put. Continue practicing the same way a few more times and give your dog treats for obeying the command.

Next, ask your dog to sit, then take a step back and tell them to stay. After three seconds, step toward your dog and offer them treats and praise for staying in place. Gradually increase the number of steps you make before giving your dog treats and rewarding them for staying in place. 

Please note, you should always reward your dog, even if they stayed in place for only a few seconds. Learning the “stay” command isn’t easy for all dogs, so be patient and consistent with your training to see results. 

4. The Come When Called Command

The come when called command, also known as “recall,” is one of the most important obedience cues your pup is going to learn. However, recall can be a hard command to teach, so you must start training your pup early, ideally when they are between six and eight weeks old. 

Tell your puppy to sit and then sit on the ground, right in front of your pup, and start saying their name or the command “come” enthusiastically. Your pup won’t have to go far to reach you, and once they do, give them treats and lots of praise. 

For the second try, do the exact same thing, except sitting a few feet away from your pooch. Call your dog eagerly and reward them copiously once they come running into your arms. Continue practicing the come command indoors, gradually increasing the distance between you and your pup.

Once your pup’s recall seems reliable indoors, you can start practicing outdoors in an enclosed garden or a backyard. When your dog seems capable of coming when called outside despite all the distractions, it’s time to kick things up a notch and take your pooch to the park. 

For start, use a long training line to give your pup a sense of freedom while you remain in charge. Call your dog to come a few times while on the lead, and offer high-value treats and lots of praise when they run back to you. 

If by any chance your dog ignores your calls or runs off in the opposite direction, don’t chase after them. Instead, start running in the opposite direction, like you’re trying to get away from your pup. I know this seems scary, but your dog will abandon their quest and start running after your until they catch up. 

Praise, treat, and reward your dog whenever you’re practicing a reliable recall. And no matter how frustrated you become, never yell, punish, or hit your dog after they didn’t come since this will only make them afraid of coming the next time you call them. 

5. How To Teach A Dog To Lie Down

“Lie down” is another basic dog command that will also give you better control over your dog and train them to lie on the floor on cue. Hold a treat in your hand and start lowering it from your dog’s nose to the floor. Your dog will try to follow the treat to the floor, and once they lie down give them the treat and lots of praise. 

Continue practicing with a treat a few more times and reward and praise your pooch enthusiastically whenever they lie down. After a few tries, start bringing an empty hand to the floor and giving your dog a treat only after they lie down.

Once you see that your pooch has followed your hand signal, start saying “lie down” as you bring your hand to the floor. Continue practicing and rewarding your pup’s efforts, and soon enough they’ll know how to lie down on cue without the treat.

FAQs About Commands To Teach Your Dog

What Are The Seven Basic Dog Commands?

According to the celebrity dog trainer Brandon McMillan, the seven basic dog commands are: sit, stay, down, come, off, heel, and no. Learning these commands from an early age can help your dog to grow into a well-behaved and obedient pooch that won’t pull on a leash or chase squirrels when called off. 

In What Order Should I Teach My Dog Commands?

Every dog should learn basic commands in the following order: sit, down, stay, come, and heel. Of course, you can start teaching your dog the “heel” command first and then move on to sit, down, stay, and come. The most important thing is that you don’t start training your puppy the “stay” cue or “come” cue before teaching them how to sit. 

What Is The First Command You Should Teach A Dog?

There is no clear consensus on what should be the first command to teach a dog. If you talk to dog trainers, most will tell you to teach “sit” first. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong no matter what you teach as long as you start teaching essential dog commands that your pup is going to use for the rest of its life. 

What Is The Best Method To Train A Dog?

Seven different dog training methods are commonly used and can help you to train and teach commands and obedience to your dog. Positive reinforcement training is one of the best training methods and encourages positive behavior with treats, rewards, and praise. 

The idea behind positive reinforcement training is to use rewards to encourage the behavior you want to see in your dog. Undesirable behavior, on the other hand, is ignored, thus teaching a dog that every action causes a reaction that can be positive (reward) or negative (no reward).

What Is The Best Age To Train A Dog?

The best age to start training any dog is while they are still puppies and around seven to eight weeks old. While many people believe that puppies have short attention spans and can’t learn while they are very young, this is not the case. Most young puppies pick up on and learn things quickly during this time and are much easier to train than when they get older and more independent. 

For best results, start training your puppy as soon as you bring them home, using positive reinforcement training. And even if you adopt an adult dog, don’t despair; armed with patience, high-value rewards, and consistency, you’ll be able to train your dog obedience commands regardless of their age.


Start teaching the basic dog commands to your pooch from puppyhood to help them grow into well-behaved and obedient adult dogs. While knowing how to give a paw can make your dog a hit with children, knowing how to come when called can keep your pooch out of danger. The essential dog commands your pooch needs to know are:

In the end, the sooner you start training your dog, the faster they will master essential commands and be able to learn more complex cues and tricks.

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5 Basic Dog Commands Every Dog Needs To Know - Yellow Lab Sitting looking at hand. Lady kneeling with palm closed next to dog.
5 Basic Dog Commands Every Dog Needs To Know

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5 Basic Dog Commands Every Dog Needs To Know was last modified: April 21st, 2021 by LTHQ

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