March 24, 2024 7 min read

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its challenges, especially when it comes to training. Teaching your puppy essential commands is crucial for their development. 

Let’s explore some fundamental dog commands every puppy needs to learn. We'll provide practical, easy-to-follow dog training tips to help you and your puppy succeed. 

What Are the Puppy Training Basics?

Before diving into specific basic commands, it's essential to establish a solid foundation for your puppy's training journey. Positive reinforcement is the cornerstone of effective puppy training, emphasizing rewards and praise for desired behaviors rather than punishment for mistakes. This approach motivates your puppy to learn, strengthens your bond, and fosters trust.

Consistency is key in puppy training. Establish clear expectations and routines from the start, ensuring everyone in the household is on the same page. Consistent dog training commands and responses help your puppy understand what is expected of them and build confidence in their abilities.

Start training sessions in a quiet, distraction-free environment to help your puppy focus and minimize frustration. Keep sessions short and engaging, as puppies have short attention spans. Aim for multiple short sessions throughout the day rather than one long session.

Also, keep in mind that patience is paramount in puppy training. Remember that your puppy is still learning and may not get everything right away. 

Be patient and understanding, and celebrate even small victories along the way. Training should be a positive and enjoyable experience for both you and your puppy.

Finally, prioritize building a strong bond with your puppy through playtime, cuddles, and quality time together. A strong bond lays the foundation for effective communication and cooperation in training. With these basics in place, you and your puppy will be well-equipped to tackle more advanced commands and behaviors in the future.

What Are Essential Dog Commands?

Teaching your puppy essential commands is to keep your dog safe and ensure their overall well-being. These important commands help you communicate effectively with your dog, establish boundaries, and reinforce good behavior. 

1. Sit

Teaching your puppy to sit is one of the most basic and useful commands, and it’s a good first command to try and teach them. Start by holding a treat close to your dog’s nose and slowly move it upwards. 

As your puppy's head follows the treat, their bottom will naturally lower into a sitting position. Say the sit command as soon as their bottom touches the ground, then praise and reward them with the treat.

2. Stay

The stay command teaches your puppy to remain in a specific position until released. Begin by having your puppy sit, then hold out your hand in a stop hand signal and say, "Stay." 

Take a small step back, make eye contact, and wait a few seconds before returning to your puppy and rewarding them. Gradually increase the distance and duration of the stay as your puppy becomes more proficient.

3. Come

The “come” command is essential for calling your puppy back to you, especially in potentially dangerous situations. Start by kneeling down and encouraging your puppy to come to you using a friendly tone of voice. 

Use a dog treat or their favorite toy as a lure if necessary. When your puppy comes to you, praise and reward them generously.

4. Down

Teaching your puppy to lie down on command is useful for controlling their behavior and promoting relaxation. Start with your puppy in a sitting position, then hold a treat in front of their nose and slowly lower it to the ground. 

As your puppy follows the treat, say "down" and encourage them to lie down completely. Reward them with the treat when they do.

5. Leave It

The leave it command teaches your puppy to ignore distractions or potential dangers. Hold a treat in your closed hand and let your puppy sniff it. 

When they show interest, close your hand and say, "Leave it." Wait for your puppy to stop trying to get the treat, then reward them with a different treat from your other hand.

6. Drop It

This command is essential for preventing your puppy from chewing on or picking up dangerous objects or food. Start by offering your puppy a toy or object they like to hold in their mouth. 

Say, "Drop it," and offer a treat as a trade. When your puppy releases the object, praise and reward them.

7. Heel

The heel command teaches your puppy to walk calmly beside you without pulling on the leash. Start by holding a treat or kibble in your hand and keeping it close to your body. 

Encourage your puppy to walk beside you, saying "Heel" as you walk. Give them a treat for staying in the proper position. If your dog starts to wander, simply correct them and reward their good behavior. 

8. Go Potty

The "Go Potty" command is a vital cue for directing your dog to eliminate in a designated area. Establishing a specific spot for your dog to relieve themselves helps maintain cleanliness and reinforces good potty habits. 

To teach this command, bring your dog to the designated potty area and use the phrase "Go Potty" as they eliminate. Offer praise and rewards immediately afterward to reinforce the behavior. With consistent practice, your dog will learn to associate the command with the desired action, making potty breaks more efficient and predictable for both of you.

Introduce this command during regular potty breaks, guiding your puppy to the designated potty area while using dog attractant spray. Be consistent with your verbal cue, such as "Go Potty" while leading them to the pad. When your puppy successfully eliminates on an automatic dog potty, offer enthusiastic praise and rewards. 

What Are More Advanced Commands?

As your puppy progresses in their training journey, you may want to introduce more advanced commands to enhance their obedience and communication skills. These advanced commands build upon the foundation of basic obedience and offer additional control and versatility in various situations. 

Remember, the key to obedience training is repetitions; because these commands are more advanced, practice is even more important. The following are some examples of more advanced commands to consider teaching your puppy.

9. Go to Bed

The "go to bed" command directs your puppy to go to their designated resting area, whether it's a bed, crate, or mat. Use a specific cue such as "go to bed" and guide your puppy to their resting spot. 

Reward them for complying and reinforce the behavior with praise and treats. This command is useful for providing structure and promoting relaxation, especially when you need your puppy to settle down.

10. Find It

Teaching your puppy to "find it" is a fun and mentally stimulating command that encourages them to use their sense of smell. Start by hiding a treat or toy in plain sight and saying "find it" as your puppy searches for the hidden item. 

Gradually increase the difficulty by hiding items in more challenging locations. This command is not only entertaining but also helps build your puppy's problem-solving skills and confidence.

What Are Common Challenges in Puppy Training?

While puppy training can be a rewarding experience, it's not without its challenges. This section will take a look at some common issues you may encounter and tips for overcoming them.


Accidents are a natural part of the potty training process, especially with young puppies. Remember that yelling can be counter-productive. Your puppy doesn’t know why you are yelling, so it only serves to frighten them and can send the message that they should not go to the bathroom in front of you. 

This is often the catalyst for puppies finding a hiding place first and then having an accident. This can really delay potty training.

Stay patient and consistent with your training efforts, and clean up accidents promptly with an enzymatic cleaner to prevent repeat incidents. The enzymes in these cleaners will break down the pet waste, ensuring your puppy won’t be able to smell their own scent and continue to potty in inappropriate places.

Biting and Chewing

Puppies explore the world with their mouths, which can lead to unwanted chewing and biting behaviors. Provide plenty of appropriate chew toys and redirect your dog’s attention whenever they engage in inappropriate chewing. 

Some chew options that we love are bully sticks, Nylabones, and antlers (if they have their adult teeth). A sniff walk can also deter biting, as it can change up their environment and distract them. 

Leash Pulling

Many puppies pull on the leash when learning to walk on a leash. Teach your puppy to walk calmly beside you by using positive reinforcement techniques and rewarding them for walking nicely on a loose leash. Once your recall with your pup is solid, you may be able to take them to off-leash areas to work on more training. 

Lack of Focus

Puppies have short attention spans and may struggle to stay focused during training sessions. Keep training sessions short and engaging, and use high-value treats to maintain your puppy's focus.

Separation Anxiety

Some puppies may experience separation anxiety when left alone. Gradually acclimate your puppy to being alone by leaving them alone for short periods and gradually increasing the duration over time. Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation when you're together and make departures and returns low-key to minimize stress.

Wrapping Up

Mastering essential dog commands and troubleshooting common challenges are integral parts of raising a happy and well-trained dog. You can foster a strong bond with your dog while promoting good behavior and obedience by prioritizing positive reinforcement, consistency, and patience in your training efforts. 

Remember that each puppy is unique and may progress at their own pace, so stay patient and adaptable throughout the training process. With dedication and love, you'll set the foundation for a lifelong relationship filled with joy, companionship, and mutual understanding between you and your new dog with these training tips.

Who knows; maybe next week, you can work on “shake”!


Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement | NIH

Household Food Items Toxic to Dogs and Cats | NIH

Dog Pulling on the Leash: Effects of Restraint by a Neck Collar vs. a Chest Harness | NIH 

Canine separation anxiety: strategies for treatment and management | NIH