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5 Training Cues That Every Dog Needs To Learn

Even though some people think training a dog means teaching them cool party tricks, most dog training is for practical purposes. Every dog needs to learn some basic obedience commands in order to ensure his safety, build his confidence and strengthen your bond. If you’re new to dog training or you’re considering hiring a professional dog trainer, you may find the start of your dog training journey confusing and even a bit daunting. It seems there are endless possibilities of what you can teach your dog, however, there are a few essential commands that every dog must know. Read on to learn more about them!

Image illustrating proper dog training tools

Essential tools to start with your dog training

Before you begin with your dog training, you should first have the right tools ready. Here are a few of the most important tools and equipment you will need to teach your dog basic obedience commands:

  • Treats and food: You should have some small, delicious treats ready so that you can guide your dog to perform the actions you want during the training.
  • Leash and collar: find a collar that fits your dog snugly. You will need a leash in order to teach your dog how to walk beside you.
  • A quiet and safe environment: If you are trying to teach your dog new commands or you want to practice the commands he already learned in training, you need to find a quiet and distraction-free environment such as your home, bedroom or backyard.

5 important commands your dog should learn

Now that you have collected all the necessary tools, let’s introduce the five basic commands every dog should know:

Image illustrating the "sit" dog training command

Sit

This is usually one of the first commands every dog owner or trainer will teach a dog. The reason being that it offers a lot of benefits. Sitting when commanded is useful in stopping many unwanted dog behaviors such as jumping on people or counter-surfing. If your dog starts to behave in such a way you can simply use the “sit” command to make them stop and then you can give them a treat to reward their good behavior. In time, your dog will learn that sitting when told gets them what they want quicker than their unwanted behavior.

How to teach your dog to sit

One of the simplest methods for teaching your dog how to sit is using treats, especially if your dog is food-motivated. Lure and reward training is very effective in many cases. First, you should hold a treat near your dog’s nose to grab their attention. Then, you should move the treat upwards so that your dog follows it with their nose. This will make your dog naturally drop into a seated position. Right when your dog sits down, you should say the word sit and then praise them and offer the treat as a reward. 

You should keep repeating these steps until your dog starts following your actions more quickly. Then, you should repeat the same exercise with an empty hand. When your dog sits while following your empty hand and voice command, give them a treat. Eventually, your dog will connect the dots and will understand what they need to do whenever you use the “sit” command. 

Image illustrating the "down" dog training command

Down

This is another especially important command that can be extremely helpful in managing unwanted behavior. If your dog is hyperactive, gets too excited when you have guests in your house or won’t calm down during playtime, the “down” command is a fantastic way to make them relax. Moreover, it is a great first step towards teaching your dog other commands such as “place” or “roll over”.

How to teach your dog to lie down

Lure and reward training is quite effective for teaching your dog the “lie down” command. Also, it is a natural next step from the “sit” command. First, get your dog to sit down. Then, hold a treat close to their nose. Move the treat slowly toward the ground and closer to you. If your dog finds it hard to follow you and get all the way down, try moving the treat further away from their body. Once your dog has lied down all the way down on the ground, give them the treat and praise them to mark the behavior. Repeat these steps until your dog lies down with ease and then start practicing with an empty hand. 

Image illustrating teaching your dog the recall command

Recall

Recall training is extremely important when it comes to the safety of your dog. Recall commands get your dog to come to you when you call them. With enough practice your dog should come when you call them almost 100% of the time. This simple command can help you keep your dog from getting lost or going out of control in public spaces. It is a vital command that can help save your dog from dangerous situations

How to teach your dog recall

Teaching your dog how to come when called is a steady and gradual process. You need to be consistent and patient. You have to capture the behavior as it happens, which means lure and reward training is not that effective. Nevertheless, you can create situations during your training that can make recall exercises seem like games for your dog.

You can begin by offering your dog a treat or toy and then, once they come back to you, reward them with praise and a treat. You can practice these steps as many times as needed inside your home. Once your dog becomes reliable inside the house, you can try these steps in your backyard or other areas. Try to make these exercises as exciting for your dog as possible, so that your dog views the recall command as a fun thing. Practice the recall command as often as possible, always giving your dog a reward for responding. 

Image illustrating teaching your dog the "stay" command

Stay 

Similar to the effectiveness of the “Sit” command, mastering the “Stay” cue is pivotal for better control of your dog. This command proves beneficial in various scenarios, from managing household tasks with your dog out of the way to preventing overwhelming greetings when guests arrive.

Before delving into teaching the “Stay” command, ensure that your dog has mastered the “Sit” cue. If proficiency in “Sit” is still a work in progress, invest time in honing this command before progressing to “Stay.”

Young puppies may not be naturally inclined to stay still, but instilling the “stay” or “wait” command is crucial. This command instills the discipline for your pup to wait until given permission to move, a valuable skill in novel or potentially risky situations.

How to teach your dog stay

Instruct your dog to “sit” (or use “down”). Open your hand in front of you, signaling “Stay.” Take a few steps back, rewarding with treats and affection if your dog stays in place. Gradually increase the distance before offering the treat. Consistently reward your pup for maintaining the “stay” position, even if only for a brief period.

Incorporating a release word, such as “okay,” is crucial to signify when your dog can approach. Recognize that this exercise demands self-control, especially for puppies and high-energy dogs who may prefer constant movement over sitting patiently. Persistence is key, and gradual progress should be celebrated in the journey to mastering the “Stay” command.

Image illustrating dog training for the "leave it" command

Leave it

In moments when your dog’s curiosity leads him toward potentially harmful items on the ground, the “leave it” command becomes a crucial tool for maintaining his safety. This command aims to teach your pup that refraining from engaging with certain items brings even better rewards.

Among the essential dog commands, “leave it” proves vital, especially when your pup shows interest in inappropriate snacking or potentially harmful substances. Prioritizing the teaching of this command can contribute significantly to your dog’s well-being.

How to teach your dog the “leave it” command:

  • Hold a treat in each hand.
  • Display one closed fist containing a treat and say “Leave it.”
  • Ignore your dog’s attempts to access the treat, such as licking, sniffing, mouthing, pawing, or barking.
  • Once your dog refrains from trying, reward him with the treat from the other hand.
  • Repeat the process until your dog constantly moves away from the first fist when you command “Leave it.”
  • Progress to the next level by using two different treats: one less appealing and one particularly enticing for your pup.

Continuing the Training:

  • Say “Leave it,” place the less-attractive treat on the floor, and cover it with your hand.
  • Wait for your dog to ignore the treat, then remove it, reward him with the more appealing treat, and offer immediate affection.
  • Gradually reduce hand coverage over time until your hand is about 6 inches above the less-tasty treat.
  • Transition to practicing with you standing up, following the same steps. If your dog attempts to grab the less-tasty treat, cover it with your foot.

Mastering the “leave it” command enhances your dog’s ability to resist temptations and ensures a safer environment for your furry companion.

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