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Teach These First! Basic Dog Training Commands with Videos

Updated on February 4, 2020
Photo taken by: Andrea Arbogast
Photo taken by: Andrea Arbogast | Source

Owning a dog means establishing trust and communication. The trust can be handled by treating the dog with care and making sure they have plenty of playtime. Trust is also about not getting mad when the dog has done something bad. Trust is also about taking physical care of your dog (flea prevention, shots, and quality food). The communication is more difficult to teach, but can be done with consistency. However, there are five basic commands that once taught can help with additional training. The idea behind training these commands is that future training is much easier. Much like a pyramid, these are foundational commands that can be built upon. Once the dog knows a few of these commands, they can be combined to build a new command.

Command: Sit

Key to other commands: Lay Down, Stay, Roll over, Play Dead - pretty much any classic “trick”

Difficulty to teach: Extremely simple

One popular method to teach:

  1. Say command several times with treat in hand
  2. Push butt down
  3. Treat
  4. Repeat until the butt goes down by itself. Then double reward and praise.

Command: Drop It

Key to other commands: Fetch, Leave it, Chewing on stuff they shouldn’t (including leashes)

Difficulty to teach: Moderate

One popular method to teach:

  1. Have two toys the dog wants
  2. The dog picks one toy, then issue the drop it command
  3. Keep saying the command while playing with the toy they didn’t pick
  4. Give plenty of love and treats when they drop it.

Command: Come here

Key to other commands: Fetch, Emergency Recall, Off leash parks

Difficulty to teach: Moderate to Difficult

One popular method to teach:

  1. Wait till dog is farther away
  2. Act interesting and start repeating the command
  3. Pat the ground while saying the command
  4. Give lots of treats and love when they obey

Command: Go Lay Down (Aka - Scat, Leave me be, I don’t want to play)

Key to other commands: Go to Bed, Out of this room, Go into a specific room

Difficulty: Extremely Simple

One popular method to teach:

  1. Say command and wave hands with shooing motion
  2. Once the command is given, ignore the dog (no matter what)
  3. Do not pet or give any attention to the dog
  4. Do not reward when they do the command

Command: Body Language

Key to other commands: Play time, I am angry, Listen to this command now!, extra emphasis on all other commands

Difficulty: Difficult

One popular method to teach:

  1. Playful mode is loose in the same style a puppy plays - but without nips or bad behavior
  2. Leave area if bad behavior happens
  3. If angry, do not lash out at the dog! Stomp or act rigid. (Dogs can not be scolded after they have done something, only during)
  4. Learn how to “act” angry body language when a command requires extra attention [Do not overuse - this is an emergency measure usually]
  5. Learn the dog's body language signs as well


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Essential Behaviors to Teach (not just commands)

Beyond essential commands there are several essential behaviors that need to be taught. Having a great lifelong friend often includes them knowing these key behaviors. These behaviors help open up additional opportunities as well.

Potty training

This is often one of the first things a dog is taught, because the behavior is that essential. Most dog owners need to leave their pups at home during work, so dogs must be able to wait until getting home to use the bathroom. Furthermore, dogs need to be able to hold their urine during the night.

Car rides

This behavior helps open the possibility of short and long car trips. Short car trips to dog parks and other areas will help improve their quality of lives. Longer car trips helps keep costs of doggy hotels down and/or avoiding leaving your dog with friends. For this behavior, you want the dog to enter the car under their own power and ride without bad behavior (such as vomiting or wanting to play).


There are four main categories for dog socializing that need to be addressed: Adult strangers, children, cats, and other dogs. Having a dog that behaves politely around all these elements leads to additional opportunities of socializing (such as dog parks or staying the night at a friends house).

Loose leash

With this training, the huge gain is being able to do walks. Walks can allow for pent up energy to be used along with bathroom breaks. Loose leash training also allows for control under higher pressure circumstances, such as seeing squirrels or unfamiliar dogs. Loose leash training also opens up the possibilities of bike rides and hikes.

While there are many other behaviors that a dog needs to work on, such as food or toy aggression, these four behaviors are some of the most important.

Are there other behaviors or commands that you would suggest? Feel free to comment below!


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