Dog Training and Dog Care advice from UK Professionals

Puppy Training - Four Basic Commands

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Early Puppy Training -  Puppy Sitting Your puppy has an in-built desire to please you so at this early stage, use it to your advantage.

Now is the time to instil in the puppy the basic rules of training. Keep all training sessions short or the puppy will lose concentration. Attach the puppy's collar and lead so as to have control over him should he want to run off and play. It also teaches the puppy that a training session is about to begin and that when he has his lead on he is in working mode.


Start by standing a couple of feet in front of the puppy and show him a treat in your outstretched hand. (If you are not using food as a reward then arm yourself with his favourite toy.) Call the dog to you and, as he nears, move the treat up and slightly over his head. The puppy should follow the treat with his head and as he moves his head up you continue to move the treat backwards towards his rear. This will automatically bring his rear down to the floor, but it might take a little practice before you find the position which causes this motion best.

As soon as his bottom touches the floor say“SIT” and instantly give the treat. Repeat this a few more times until the puppy has got the hang of it. Practice this regularly throughout the day, until the puppy sits on command without receiving the treat, instead replacing it with a stroke and verbal praise.

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Have a treat in your hand. Lower your hand downwards and slightly to one side. The dog's head will follow your hand down. Just as the dog's chest touches the floor say“DOWN, Good Boy!”

Puppy Laying Down Give him his treat or a suitable reward. Repeat again and again, until your puppy has got the idea of what you want him to do. Be especially patient as this is not the easiest command to learn for the dog and he may take a 'confusion break' where his instinct tells him to leave the game alone for a while, especially true in very young puppies. Allow this, don't insist on anything at this stage, take a two minute break and return to the task when you feel he is ready again.

Have a really special treat ready for him if he does stay down for any length of time and stroke constantly for a few seconds afterwards until he gets up, at which point get up and ignore the dog for a few seconds. This is not a punishment in any way, this is purely to teach him that your attention was conditional on his body posture, and when he was down he gained a lot of attention and affection from you, and this stopped when he got up again. He will understand quickly that laying down for longer achieves a greater reward and this will help when it comes to a down/stay command which you will no doubt teach later on.

You need to get a ‘nack' of showing him a treat in your hand and then closing your fist so he can't get to it, then your hand glides down towards the floor in front of his front paws, if you play with this you should find a position where he almost flops down onto his chest to try to get under your hand and release the food. This is your dog thinking for himself and is by far the most effective way to teach anything to a dog, rather than pushing his body down which turns his own mind off in relation to that behaviour. Never touch the dog if you can help it, the less contact the better he will be at performing the command in future.



Once your puppy has learned to sit and go down, you can teach him to stay. Teaching this command will mean you are able to exercise more control over the dog. First train the stay command with the dog in the sit position.

Stand in front of the dog and say “STAY” then take a step backwards. Immediately step forwards and treat and praise the puppy if he did not move. The trick is to execute the step forwards again quickly, before he has a chance to move. You can make it easier for him by putting a flat palm out towards his eyes as you step back. Hold that hand steady and this will confuse him slightly causing a delay in his movements, gaining your window for praise and reward.

Try again but this time take two steps backwards before returning to him. Try three or four steps and back. If the puppy begins to follow you or to move around, stop immediately and start from the beginning again.

Keep the training sessions short to avoid the puppy losing concentration. Soon you should be able to leave the room whilst the puppy sits in a nice “sit-stay” position.

Alternate this by asking the dog to lie down before telling him to stay. Keep your body upright and keep looking at him as you step backwards. If he starts to get up, repeat the procedure again. The puppy will soon be performing a perfect “down-stay”.

Bear in mind that you don't need to use the commands we used here, in fact we would often advise you not to as we find using foreign language commands are MUCH better in the long run. The reason is the dog hardly ever or never hears that word other than when you tell him to do it, in which case there is a high degree of novelty factor surrounding the command and your dog will have a much clearer interpretation of it when he hears it from you.

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Puppy Recall
Once your puppy has mastered the stay command you can begin to teach him to “come.”

Begin by telling the puppy to “sit”. Face your pup and tell him to stay. Take a couple of steps backwards and with enthusiasm call “COME!”

If your dog runs to you, give heaps of praise and or treats. If the puppy gets up and comes to you without you calling him, tell him “NO” and then ignore him for about 20 seconds before starting again, returning him to the sit position. As he catches on to this new command, you will be able to walk further away.

Be consistent, and do not get frustrated. Always end a training session on a high note by commanding the puppy to do something that he knows, making it seem easier to him to please you.

If the puppy cannot grasp what it is that you want from him, pull him gently towards you with his lead whilst being excited and clearly looking like you are having fun. Never pull him to you physically, the gentle pressure we are describing is merely a suggestion to the dog, not a kind of force, as this will simply stop him thinking for himself which is the essence of what we want from him at this stage.

Remember to be positive with training. Your dog can learn negative behaviour without you realising it. Your emotions will be transmitted to the dog, and he will learn to dislike the training sessions.

Training should always be fun and the rewards of good training will prove to be invaluable to both of you in the years to come.

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