Basic Commands for Training Your Puppy

This is the second part of our blog posts on training your new puppy. You can see the first part on training tricks and tips here. Now that you understand how to go about training your new puppy, it’s time to start with the most basic commands. As your puppy continues to get better at learning, you can attempt more difficult commands. For now, let’s stick with the basics. With these recommendations, your puppy will learn commands in no time!


This is typically the first command a puppy will learn because it’s simple and easy to teach. It is also when we introduce the concept of “Command and Release”.  Learning this command and release concept helps puppies to learn how to respond to training. Also, we will teach the dog to do all exercises on our left side. It is universally accepted that dogs work on the left for that reason we teach it this way. Remember to use positive reinforcement and reward your puppy after he executes a command correctly. Then before the puppy gets out of the position you commanded them to do you release the dog with a command like “Break”.

The Steps:

  • Position the dog on your left side. Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
  • Move your hand up over his head past his eyes so that he follows the treat with his head and gets into a sitting position.
  • Once he’s sitting, give him the treat and praise him for a job well done.
  • Then before they get up on their own give them a release command like “Break”. When you give them the “Break” command step out away from them patting your legs in a playful fashion encouraging them to get up or move.
  • To get the dog to hold the sit position longer after you give him a reward raise your hand up to your left chest, so the dog looks up at the food under your face then lower it to give him another reward. Repeating this rapidly at first will keep the dog focused on you and because his head is looking up it helps keep the dog in the “Sit” position. Gradually you will make the dog wait longer in the “Sit” position between food drops. But always ending the exercise with a “Break” command for a release!

Repeat these steps about seven times in a training session until your puppy has it mastered.   Make sure that you always reward your puppy for remaining in the “Sit” while practicing, even if it’s only for a few seconds. Be sure to praise with a sincere calm voice as you are rewarding with the food. As you’re probably well-aware by now, puppies are notorious for their abundance of energy. So, it can be difficult for him to remain still for very long at first. Keep this in mind if you start to get a bit frustrated. Stick with it and you’ll eventually notice him holding the “Sit” for longer periods of time. Before long, he’ll remain sitting until you release him from the position!


This is a practical command that will come in handy if you like to take your dog out in public. When your dog learns to be comfortable laying down, it opens up a lot of possibilities of where you can take him. A dog that is relaxed in public is seen as much less threatening and allows you to enjoy time with your puppy without constantly worrying about him yanking on his leash every time a squirrel runs by or other distractions. This command can be more difficult to teach because it’s a submissive position for your puppy. Keeping the training sessions brief and relaxed can help make it easier for you and your pup! It is usually easier to teach this with the dog already in a sit position. Make sure you still reward your “Sit” command before doing your “Down”.

The Steps:

  • With your dog in a “Sit” Hold your treat in your fingers of your right hand.
  • Place your hand up to your dog’s snout.
  • When he sniffs it, Give your command “Down”. Then move your hand to the floor so that he follows the food. At the same time use your left hand to gently squeeze the dogs shoulder blades with very slight downward pressure.
  • Once your hand touches the floor slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head and flatten out on the ground.
  • Once he’s flat in the down position give him the treat by placing it on the floor between the dog’s front legs and praise for following the command correctly.
  • When you start the down exercise have a hand full of food so you can continue placing the food on the floor one piece at a time, so they hold the position in the down. Each time you place food on the floor take your hand upward out of sight.
  • After a short time of the dog holding the down position pause your food rewards for a couple seconds and release your dog with the command “Break”.

Repeat these steps about seven times in a training session until your puppy has it mastered.


This is an incredibly important command for keeping your pup out of trouble. If you accidentally leave your gate in the backyard open or lose your grip on the lease, at the very least you can save yourself the hassle of chasing after him. However, in more dangerous situations, this command could be life-saving.

The Steps:

  • When your puppy has his leash properly secured to his collar or harness, put a piece of food to his nose and get him interested in the food. Then give him the command “Come” and immediately start backing away from the dog encouraging him to follow the food in your hand.
  • As he is chasing you and the food in your hand praise the dog with an excited tone.
  • After a few yards stop and when the dog gets to you, reward him with lavish praise and a treat.
  • Repeat this several times and use your leash and collar to gently show him what you are wanting from him if he is not clear on your expectations.

Once he masters this command with the leash on the six-foot leash it is time to start using your long line to get the dog coming from farther distances. As you get farther away you will need to make sure you get the dogs attention by say his name before you give the command. Do not give the “Come” command unless you have the dog’s attention.

What We Can Offer You

Training a puppy takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If you’d like to make the process easier, Landheim offers multiple different training services that might be right for your puppy. We offer Puppy Kindergarten for all breeds aged 8 to 16 weeks. In this course, we teach skills like socialization and confidence in the most critical stage of his development. This course also will help you to prevent unwanted behaviors and bond with your puppy. We also start the basic obedience commands “Sit”, “Down” and “Come”.  This is a great course that will help lay the foundation of a well-behaved adult dog.   If you’ve been wanting to train your older puppy but haven’t made much progress yet, it’s not too late! We also offer a Basic Dog Training and Obedience course for dogs aged 5 months and older. Call us at 219-365-9987 or click here to complete a contact information form. We wish you the best of luck in your puppy training journey!

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