8 Basic Commands To Teach Your Dog

Your dog will be well-mannered in all situations.

Southerners pride themselves on good manners, which goes for pets and humans. A well-trained dog reflects well on its owner. A well-mannered dog knows when to sit and stay off the furniture, how to wait patiently for dinner, and knows better than to jump on guests when they arrive at the front door.

That said, dog training can be difficult. It takes consistency, time, effort, and discipline for both owner and dog. And despite all the work, some dogs don't quite get it—or just ignore the rules when they see fit.

Then there is my dog Steve, a low-riding moppet that the vet at the shelter claimed was a Corgi Papillon mix, two breeds that are supposedly some of the smartest. Steve adamantly refuses any direction that doesn't sound conversational. He ignores me when I say, "Stop!" in a commanding voice, but when I say, "Hold up there, rug rat," he stops in his tracks. I think he's trained me not to bark commands at him.

If you're not a professional dog trainer or just content to let your dog be itself, commands may not come naturally. That doesn't mean you shouldn't put in the effort to have a well-mannered dog—or at least a pup that will not jump on guests.

Here are a few commands that every dog should know and how to try and teach them properly. You'll need a handful of treats, a collar, leash, patience, and a commanding alpha dog voice.

Boy Teaching Dog to Sit
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How to Teach a Dog to Sit

According to dog trainer Cesar Millan, a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer, teaching a dog to sit involves a three-step process. First, hold a treat close to your dog's nose. Next, move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower. Once he's sitting, say "Sit," give him the treat, and share affection. Repeat until the dog knows the word.

How to Teach a Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash

First, according to the American Kennel Club's website, decide whether you want your puppy to walk on your left or right side and stay consistent. Next, arm yourself with treats and "stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop."

Give "Fido" a treat for sitting or standing nicely and calmly. Then, take one step forward and give the dog a treat if or when he follows. From there, continue giving treats to your puppy as you walk. If, or more likely when, the dog gets in front of you, "turn the opposite direction, call him to you, and reward him. Then continue." Gradually, start doling out fewer and fewer treats, rewarding your pup every other step and then every fourth step or so until they just walk nicely.

How to Teach a Dog Not to Jump on Visitors

According to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, the trick is ignoring bad behavior. When you come home, and your dog jumps on you, immediately leave again. "Wait 30 seconds to one minute, then walk back in to calmly greet your dog. The moment your dog jumps, walk away again and close the door," they write. "Keep doing this until your dog no longer jumps, at which point you can reward him by not leaving and petting him." You can also keep treats on hand to reward the pup for not jumping.

How to Teach a Dog to Come

Per Cesar Millan's website, put a leash and collar on your dog, lean down to his level, and gently pull his leash while saying, "Come." If he follows you, give him a treat and a pat on the head.

Labrador Colors
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How to Teach a Dog to Stay

Have your dog sit and give him a treat. Then, give him another treat for staying in a sit position, which could take some practice, according to the AKC's website. When your dog can sit for several seconds, start adding distance by saying, "Stay," and taking a step back. If the dog manages to stay, give her a treat and then do it again at a greater distance. Per the AKC, "Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful."

How to Teach a Dog to Leave Something Alone

Teaching a dog to "leave it" can help keep a pup safe if it gets too curious about something dangerous. Start by putting a treat in your hand. Show your puppy the treat, and then close your fist around it. If, or rather when, your dog tries to get the treat, don't give it. Say, "Leave it," and wait until the dog stops. Then provide your dog with the treat from the other hand.

After this process, start over by waiting for your dog to move away from your first fist. Then say, "Leave it," and give your dog the treat when it moves away, making sure to make eye contact with your pet. Repeat until the dog associates "Leave it" with a reward.

How to Teach a Dog to Drop Something

Like the "Leave it" command, "Drop it" can save your dog from eating something it should not—from chocolate to your favorite shoe. Like "Leave it," tell your dog to "Drop it," and reward your dog with a treat when it does. According to The Spruce Pets, "replace what you took from your dog's mouth with something very rewarding, such as a toy or delicious treat."

How to Teach a Dog to Lie Down

Grab the best-smelling treat (like cooked chicken or liver bites), and keep it in your closed fist. Then, according to Cesar Millan's site, hold your closed hand up to your dog's face and move your hand to the floor when the pup sniffs it. The dog should follow the scent downwards. Use your hand to gently encourage the dog to put its whole body on the ground.

Once the dog is lying down, say "Down," and give him the treat and lovable scratches.

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  1. 5 Essential Commands You Can Teach Your Dog. Cesar’s Way.

  2. Lunchick P. Teach Your Puppy These 5 Basic Commands. American Kennel Club.

  3. Resources & Guides: Training & Care. Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

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