Basic Obedience Training Getting Started

Basic Obedience Training: Getting Started

Owning a dog is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it comes with responsibilities. One of the most crucial aspects of responsible dog ownership is basic obedience training. Teaching your dog basic commands not only ensures their safety but also enhances your bond and makes daily life with your furry companion more enjoyable.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamentals of basic obedience training, offering valuable tips and techniques to get you started on the right paw.

Why Basic Obedience Training Matters

Basic obedience training is the foundation for a well-behaved and well-adjusted dog. It’s not just about getting your dog to follow commands; it’s about establishing clear communication and mutual understanding between you and your canine companion. Here are some compelling reasons why basic obedience training is essential:

1. Safety:

Training your dog to respond to basic commands can be a matter of life and death in certain situations. Commands like “come,” “stay,” and “leave it” can prevent accidents and protect your dog from harm.

2. Behavior Management:

A well-trained dog is less likely to engage in destructive or undesirable behaviors such as chewing furniture, excessive barking, or digging holes in the yard. Obedience training provides an outlet for your dog’s energy and helps prevent behavioral problems.

3. Socialization:

Basic obedience training often includes exposure to different people, animals, and environments. This socialization is crucial for helping your dog become well-adjusted and confident in various situations.

4. Bonding:

Training sessions are an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog. Positive interactions during training can strengthen the emotional connection between you and your pet.

5. Legal and Community Requirements:

In many places, responsible dog ownership includes adhering to local leash laws and having control over your dog in public spaces. Basic obedience training is essential to meet these requirements.

Preparing for Basic Obedience Training

Before you start training your dog, it’s essential to be prepared. Here are some preliminary steps to take:

1. Choose the Right Training Method:

There are various training methods, from positive reinforcement to traditional methods. It’s crucial to choose an approach that aligns with your values and is effective for your dog’s temperament. Positive reinforcement methods, which reward desired behaviors, are generally recommended for most dogs.

2. Gather Necessary Supplies:

You’ll need some basic supplies for training, including:

  • Treats: High-value treats that your dog loves can be used as rewards.
  • Leash and Collar/Harness: Ensure you have a sturdy leash and a comfortable collar or harness for your dog.
  • Training Clicker (Optional): Clickers can be helpful for marking desired behaviors.
  • Training Area: Find a quiet, distraction-free area for training sessions.

3. Set Realistic Goals:

Determine what specific behaviors or commands you want to teach your dog. Start with the basics, such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it.” As your dog progresses, you can introduce more advanced commands.

4. Be Patient and Consistent:

Training takes time and patience. Dogs learn at their own pace, so it’s essential to remain consistent and avoid frustration. Short, frequent training sessions are often more effective than long, exhausting ones.

5. Seek Professional Help if Needed:

If you’re unsure about how to proceed or if your dog exhibits challenging behaviors, consider consulting a professional dog trainer. They can provide guidance and expertise tailored to your dog’s unique needs.

Basic Obedience Commands

Now, let’s delve into the essential basic obedience commands that every dog should learn:

1. Sit:

The “sit” command is one of the first commands you should teach your dog. It’s a fundamental behavior that helps with impulse control and is useful in various situations.

How to Teach “Sit”:

  1. Hold a treat above your dog’s nose, slightly moving it back over their head.
  2. As your dog follows the treat with their eyes and nose, their rear end will naturally lower to the ground.
  3. The moment their bottom touches the floor, say “sit” and reward them with the treat and praise.
  4. Practice this command regularly until your dog can sit on command without the treat lure.

2. Stay:

The “stay” command is crucial for keeping your dog safe in potentially dangerous situations and teaching them self-control.

How to Teach “Stay”:

  1. Start with your dog in the “sit” position.
  2. Hold your hand, palm facing your dog, and say “stay.”
  3. Take a step back. If your dog remains in place, immediately return to them, praise them, and offer a treat.
  4. Gradually increase the distance and duration of the “stay” command over time.

3. Come:

The “come” command is vital for calling your dog to you, especially in off-leash situations.

How to Teach “Come”:

  1. Leash your dog and get down to their level.
  2. Say “come” while gently tugging the leash towards you.
  3. When your dog starts moving towards you, encourage them with an excited tone.
  4. As soon as your dog reaches you, reward them with praise and treats.

4. Down:

The “down” command is useful for keeping your dog calm and settled, particularly in public places.

How to Teach “Down”:

  1. Begin with your dog in the “sit” position.
  2. Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and slowly lower it to the ground.
  3. Your dog should follow the treat, lowering their body to the ground. When they are fully down, say “down” and reward them.
  4. Practice this command until your dog can lie down on command without the treat lure.

5. Leave It:

The “leave it” command can be a lifesaver, preventing your dog from grabbing something harmful or undesirable.

How to Teach “Leave It”:

  1. Place a treat in your closed hand and present it to your dog.
  2. When your dog tries to get the treat, firmly say “leave it” without letting them have it.
  3. Wait for your dog to lose interest in your hand or look away from the treat.
  4. As soon as your dog backs off, praise them and offer a different treat as a reward.

Basic Obedience Training Tips

Now that you know the essential commands, let’s explore some valuable tips for successful basic obedience training:

1. Use Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or toys when they exhibit the desired behavior. This method is not only effective but also builds a positive association with training.

2. Be Consistent:

Consistency is key to successful training. Use the same command words and gestures every time, and ensure that everyone in your household uses the same cues and rewards.

3. Keep Training Sessions Short and Fun:

Dogs have short attention spans, so keep training sessions brief, typically no more than 15-20 minutes. Make training enjoyable for your dog by incorporating play and variety.

4. Gradually Increase Distractions:

Start training in a quiet environment and gradually introduce distractions as your dog becomes more proficient in their commands. This helps them generalize their training to different situations.

5. Avoid Punishment:

Refrain from using harsh punishment or physical corrections during training. It can lead to fear and aggression in your dog and damage your relationship.

6. Practice Patience:

Training can be frustrating at times, but it’s crucial to remain patient. Yelling or showing frustration can confuse and stress your dog.

7. Use High-Value Treats:

Choose treats that your dog absolutely loves and reserve them exclusively for training sessions. This makes the rewards more enticing.

8. Be Mindful of Timing:

Timing is crucial in training. Reward your dog immediately after they perform the desired behavior to reinforce the connection between the action and the reward.

9. Don’t Overdo It:

Avoid overtraining your dog. Too much repetition can lead to boredom and frustration. If your dog seems disinterested, take a break and come back to training later.

10. Stay Positive:

Maintain a positive attitude during training. Your dog can sense your emotions, so stay upbeat and enthusiastic.

Troubleshooting Common Challenges

During basic obedience training, you may encounter some challenges. Here’s how to address a few common issues:

1. Lack of Interest:

If your dog seems uninterested in training, it may be due to fatigue or distractions. Ensure your dog is well-rested and choose a quiet training environment. You can also use higher-value treats to increase motivation.

2. Disobedience:

If your dog consistently disobeys a command, revisit the training steps and reinforce the behavior from the beginning. Make sure your expectations are realistic.

3. Fear or Anxiety:

If your dog displays fear or anxiety during training, consult with a professional dog trainer who specializes in behavior modification. It’s essential to address these issues with care and patience.

4. Overexcitement:

If your dog becomes overly excited during training, it may be challenging to get their attention. Practice calmness exercises and incorporate short training sessions when your dog is relaxed.

Advanced Obedience Training

Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can explore more advanced obedience training. These commands and behaviors can take your dog’s training to the next level:

1. Heel:

The “heel” command teaches your dog to walk calmly beside you on a leash without pulling. It’s especially useful during walks and when navigating crowded areas.

How to Teach “Heel”:

  1. Begin with your dog on a leash.
  2. Hold a treat in your hand, and with your dog on your left side, start walking.
  3. Keep the treat close to your thigh to encourage your dog to stay in position.
  4. Reward your dog for walking calmly beside you. Use the command “heel” when they are in the correct position.

2. Wait:

The “wait” command is a more extended version of “stay.” It teaches your dog to hold a position until you release them.

How to Teach “Wait”:

  1. Start with your dog in the “sit” position.
  2. Hold your hand, palm facing your dog, and say “wait.”
  3. Take a step back, and if your dog remains in place, return to them and reward them.
  4. Gradually increase the distance and duration of the “wait” command.

3. Off-Leash Recall:

Once your dog has a reliable “come” command on a leash, you can work on off-leash recall. Ensure you practice in a safe and secure environment.

4. Stay with Distractions:

Practice the “stay” command with increasing distractions, such as other dogs, people, or toys. This helps your dog generalize the behavior to real-world situations.

5. Advanced Tricks:

Consider teaching your dog fun and impressive tricks like “roll over,” “play dead,” or “fetch specific objects.” These tricks not only challenge your dog mentally but also provide entertainment.


Basic obedience training is the cornerstone of responsible dog ownership. It not only ensures your dog’s safety but also enhances your relationship and provides mental stimulation.

Remember that training is an ongoing process, and consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key to success. With dedication and the right approach, you can have a well-behaved and happy canine companion that brings joy to your life for years to come.

So, grab those treats, get out your leash, and embark on the journey of training your furry friend to be the best version of themselves.