The Ultimate Guide to Training Your Dog: From Basics to Advanced Commands

Posted by Jackie Ly on

a girl training her dog


Table of Contents

It feels good to have a well-behaved dog that listens to you without any fuss, right? And it also sounds great to form a strong connection and deepen the bond with your dog. Well, achieving these needs proper dog training

If you’re a new dog owner or you’ve been sharing your life with your dog for years, one thing remains constant: understanding basic to advanced dog training commands sets the foundation for a well-behaved and happy canine companion. 

Dog training demands both time and effort, and it’s undoubtedly challenging. But the rewards make every minute invested entirely worthwhile. You should progress from basic commands to advanced ones, aiming for perfect obedience where your dog follows your instructions, even in real-life situations, whether or not treats are present. 

If you’re a new dog owner or a dog owner pro, there’s always something new to learn when it comes to training your dog. 

Why is dog training so important?

Strengthens the bond: builds trust and understanding

First step to strengthening a bond is understanding your dog’s body language. Take the time to really get to know them, like learning about their unique personality and specific needs. Your dog communicates through a combination of body language, vocalisations, and behaviour. Learning to interpret these cues can help you gain a better understanding of your own dog’s needs, intentions, and emotions.

Consistency and positive reinforcement build trust. Having clear boundaries and routines make them feel safe and secure, while rewarding good behaviour reinforces trust and cooperation. 

Prevents bad behaviour

Bad dog behaviours can be frustrating and challenging to deal with. Staying consistent in dog training, using rewards, exercising, and staying calm are some of the ways to avoid bad behaviour in dogs. Dogs that receive proper training have less separation anxiety - leading to crying, barking, and chewing. 

Ensuring safety and well-being

If you train your dog, their behaviour will be more predictable. An obedient dog without a leash will listen to your command and allow you to be in control and make them feel safe. 

Improving quality of life

A well-trained dog is more relaxed and comfortable in new environments faster than untrained dogs. Ensure they get enough exercise and mental stimulation with playing and dog training. Always feed them a balanced diet and have a regular visit with their vet to stay healthy and happy. 

Create a comfortable and safe home environment with dog toys to relax. Keep them clean and well-groomed, use positive training methods to teach them good behaviour, and spend quality time together bonding and having fun. 

Learn to socialise 

Giving a chance for your dog to meet other dogs helps them learn good dog manners. Anxious dogs usually are not given enough socialisation and act aggressively with others. Your dog will feel more comfortable and confident in different situations when they socialise with other dogs. 

Empowering independence and confidence

Provide opportunities for your dog to make choices and solve simple problems on their own, like offering interactive toys. Encourage your dog to explore and be curious, allowing your dog to investigate new environments at their own pace, providing reassurance and support as needed. Ensure that your dog has access to food, water, and a safe space to stay, and celebrate their successes as they gain confidence and independence. 

Why do dogs get so excited when they see their owners?

After a long day of working, you come home and your dogs always greet you with a wagging tail and joyful barks. They often get so excited to see you because there is a strong bond with human companions and a display of their affection, loyalty, and happiness. Their excitement shows how much they care about you and want to be close to you, which makes your bond with them even stronger. Dogs have a great sense of smell, so they can recognize your scent even before you arrive at home. 

How well do dogs see?

Your dog sees the world differently from you. They’re really good at seeing things move, especially in the dark. But when it comes to colours and details, they’re not as good as humans. They can see blue and yellow colours, but they don’t see red and green colours very well. Dogs may not see things as clearly or in as many colours as you do, but their vision is perfect for how they play and live. 

What are dogs trying to tell you when they bark?

When dogs bark, they’re trying to tell something to you or other animals, such as alerting you to potential dangers or seeking attention or companionship. It can also be a response to stimuli like unfamiliar noises or visitors, an expression of anxiety or excitement, or a way to assert their territory. 

Research your dog’s breed history and purpose

Helps you understand what your dog breed is like - the personality, behaviour, and specific needs and decide if the breed is a good fit for your lifestyle and home. Knowing a breed’s history tells you what the dog was originally bred for. This helps you  provide the right training and know any health issues common to keep your dog happy and fulfilled.

Basic dog commands

Teach your dog to come when called: Use a happy voice while calling your dog’s name followed by the word, “come.” When they obey your command, give lots of praise and treats. Keep practising, gradually increasing the distance and adding distractions. 

Loose-leash walking: Use a long leash in an open area with few distractions and verbal cues such as “walk” or “let’s go” to encourage your dog to walk with you. If your dog starts pulling or wandering too far, gently guide them back with the leash and praise them when they obey.

Teach your dog to sit: Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose, then slowly move your hand up and back over their head. As their head follows the treat, their bottom should naturally lower into a sitting position. Repeat this several times until your dog starts to sit when you use the hand motion. After getting the hang of it, start adding the verbal command “sit” before doing the hand motion. Your dog will learn to sit on command in no time with consistent practice. 

Command your dog to lie down: Let them sit in front of you, then hold a treat in your hand and let them see it. Slowly lower the treat on your hand to the ground while giving the verbal cue “lie down.” Their body should naturally lower into a lying position. Give them praise and treat after. Repeat this process several times. 

Stay command: Hold your palm out like a stop sign and give the verbal cue “stay.” Take a step back, praise and give them a treat if they obey. Increase the distance and duration of the stay as your dog becomes more comfortable with the command.

Go to bed: Lead your dog to the designated area using a treat or toy, and use a verbal cue like “go to bed” or “settle.” Praise and reward them once they’re in position. 

Building on basics: intermediate dog training

Heel: Teach your dog to walk beside you without pulling or straying. Use the command “heel” while taking a step forward and keep your dog’s attention focused on you. Stop when they go ahead of you or tug on the leash. Keep repeating until they understand it’s staying beside you at heel that gets them a reward. 

Place: Use a verbal cue like “place” or “go to your spot” in a designated spot like the crate or bed. Encourage them to sit or lie down. Offer a treat and praise if they obey until they understand going to that spot is their goal. 

Leave it: Instruct your dog to ignore or let go of an item through using a verbal command like “leave it.” Give them a treat to take instead. Keep repeating this until they understand how to drop the object in their mouth on command. 

Off command: Use the “off” cue to encourage your dog to move away from something or to stop jumping on people or furniture. Say the command and give them a treat when they get off. Keep repeating this until they learn to get off on command, without treats. 

Okay command: Rather than a command, “okay” is a release. It can be their signal to sniff around rather than Heel when you go on a walk, and it’s their cue to go ahead and eat after patiently staying on Sit while you fix them their food dish. Combine any of your commands with Okay as your dog’s release. 

Addressing common dog behavioural issues

Any “basic” command becomes advanced when your dog learns to obey despite strong temptations and triggers. This can save their lives, or simply make them pleasant to take anywhere. 

Barking: Quiet and Speak on command

Dogs bark, howl, and whine but you can teach them to “speak,” with encouraging barking using a toy or treat, then reward and say “speak.” Use a treat to have silence while saying “quiet” when your dog barks. 

To teach Quiet, try saying Shh or Quiet when they’re barking, and offer a treat as you do so. Praise and repeat until they learn how to go quiet on command. 

Chewing: Leave it. 

Start with showing your dog a tempting object, then say “leave it.” Repeat consistently to teach them what’s off-limits. 

Digging: Dig on command, Stop and Leave it 

Designate a digging area and invite digging with a cue like “dig” while using a toy or treat. Use “stop” for stopping digging and redirect their attention to a different activity. Use the “leave it” to show them off-limits areas where digging is not allowed. 

Separation anxiety: Stay, Play, Sleep, Lie Down 

Begin with short periods of separation, increasing the time as they become more comfortable. Use the “stay” cue to encourage them to remain in a designated spot while you step away, rewarding calm behaviour. Use the “lie down” cue for their relaxation. 

Inappropriate elimination: Go Potty 

Use the “go potty” command when you take your dog to a bathroom area. Patiently wait for them to eliminate, praise and reward them. If you catch your dog eliminating indoors, interrupt them with a “no.”

Begging: Sit, Go To Bed

Use the commands “sit” and “go to bed” to discourage begging. When your dog starts begging, say the “sit” cue. If they continue begging, “use the “go to bed” command. 

Chasing: Stay 

Use the “stay” cue when you notice your dog showing interest in chasing something. Redirect their focus with a toy or treat to reinforce the desired behaviour.

Jumping up: Sit 

Use the “sit” command to discourage jumping behaviour. Ignore or gently turn away from your dog when they jump up to avoid reinforcing the behaviour with attention.

Biting: Drop It, Play on command 

When starting to bite, give the “drop it” command and offer them a suitable toy to chew instead. Use the “play” cue to initiate interactive play sessions, providing them with appropriate outlets for their energy. 

Aggression: Quiet and Sit and Down 

When showing signs of aggression like barking or growling, use the “quiet” cue in a calm and assertive tone to interrupt their behaviour. Follow this with the “sit” and “down” commands to encourage them to calm down and refocus their attention.

Advanced dog training tips

Opening and closing doors: Teach your dog to open and close doors by encouraging them to touch the door handle or push the door with their nose or paw. 

Fetching specific objects: Leash, Remote, Drink, Blanket: Teach your dog to fetch items such as leash, remote, drink, and blanket, start with one object at time. Slowly introduce new objects, practising them when they bring them to you. Use different cues for each item and practice in different places.

Wipe (wiping mouth after drinking, wiping feet when entering the house): Hold a cloth near its mouth or a mat near the door and use a command like “wipe” or “clean,” and reward your dog after touching the cloth or mat. 

Stay close: Use a “stay close” command whenever your dog strays too far and gently guide them back to your side with the leash.

Leave it (food): Teach your dog “leave it” for tempting food by showing them a treat, saying “leave it,” and reward them for not taking it. 

Closing Thoughts

Whether teaching your dog simple tasks like sitting or more complex tricks, the process is rewarding and strengthens your bond. With practice, patience, and understanding, you and your dog can both share a wonderful relationship filled with love, trust, and companionship. 

Your connection will grow stronger every day. Each training session is a chance to learn and grow together, so enjoy the journey and celebrate progress along the way. Happy training!

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