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Basic Puppy Commands

Updated on July 30, 2011

How to Teach Your Puppy the Basics and What to Avoid

The best way to show off your new puppy to family and friends is to teach them new tricks. You will be amazed at how quickly your puppy can learn. In most cases, it is easier for a puppy than and old dog. The trick is to be very patient and careful about how you work with and reward your puppy.

Start by teaching the following basic commands:

  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Shake
  • Fetch
  • Down
  • Head down
  • Off
  • Watch
  • Speak
  • Stay

The tricks you might want to avoid include: jump, and high-five. These tricks can lead to other behaviors such as jumping on people and furniture.


Sit, Stand, and Off

  1. Sit - The basic of all the commands is the sit command. The sit command should be the first one your puppy should learn because it focuses their attention to you when they are sitting. To teach your puppy this command press down on their rear end while telling them once to sit. Have a treat ready in your hand. When you puppy sits reward them with the treat. You can gently push down on their back to encourage them to sit. It will be difficult at first because they will not want to listen. Be patient and pause between each prompt. After a few trials, they will get the hang of it. Reward them with the treat following their performance.
  2. Stand - Although it may seem awkward at first, the stand command can be very useful. Only train your puppy on the stand command after they have mastered sit. Follow similar instructions to the sit, but once they stand after you give the command to stand, reward them with a small treat. Be very careful about teaching the high five command too early for puppies because they may have difficulty distinguishing between high-five and jump. Avoid teaching your dog to jump or they may want to jump on you and furniture.
  3. Off - One of the most important commands is letting your puppy know when you are not happy with them. Using the word “off” or “back off” lets them know when you do not want them to bite you. Puppies will naturally want to nibble or bite at you. They will bite when they are being playful and they sure love to play.

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Tips for Success

Before you begin training your new dog keep the following in mind:

  • Just like all dogs, puppies love food. Make sure to offer your puppy lots of praise and a small treat after they perform each task you ask them to.
  • Be patient and only say the command once and say it like you are in charge. Take ownership of your puppy and show him who is boss by asserting yourself over your commands. If they do what you ask, show them how happy you are. Overtime, they will get the hint that what you ask directly translates to lots of rewards – treats and praise.

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When training your puppy stay standing, but when playing with your puppy, come down to ground level with them.

You need to establish an understanding between you and your puppy that you are the boss. You can have more than one person as the boss or leader of your puppy, but make it very clear to your puppy that they are not the boss of you.

When can I start training my puppy?

You can start training your pup right away. Use their name consistently, and they will learn it quickly. Start with one trick at a time.

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