Basic Dog Training Tips

Today I would like to discuss some basic dog training tips. These are suggestions that I have found to be helpful while training my dogs. We’ll cover the basics today. We’ll further discuss training in more detail in future posts.

While we are on the subject of basic dog training tips – I would like to share with you products that I have purchased for dog training that I have found to be very helpful.

There is a lot of information out there about dog training. Over the years I have found some information helpful and some not. An example of not helpful was when it was suggested to me that if my dog doesn’t listen during the walk I should flip him over on his side and yell commands. At that time my dog was 120 pounds and an unpredictable scared rescue that I had just started working with. Obviously I did not do this.

Basic Commands

The basic commands for my dogs are sit, stay, down, come, heel, look, drop it, no and settle. I use simple commands as I have cared for rescues with high anxiety and other behaviors. I find the more basic the command – the less confusion for my dog.

Learning these commands should be gradual. You want to be careful not to overwhelm your dog and then confuse her. Start with a couple of commands each day, review throughout the day- keeping it fun and easy.

To command train I have my dog in a harness with a leash. With the PetSafe Easy Walk Harness and leash you can position your dog into the command position. Sometimes you may have to put gentle pressure on your dog so that she understands what you are asking her to do. For example getting your dog to sit you may have to put light pressure on your dog’s rear so she understands that you are telling her to sit.

The PetSafe Easy Walk Harness can be purchased from Amazon.  Amazon also offers the PetSafe Deluxe Easy Walk Harness with padded straps.  

“Sit Bailey” My dog sits. “Good girl Bailey” and I give her a treat. Get excited when your dog listens and obeys. You will convey to her that you are happy she is doing what you have told her to do. Do the same process a couple more times and throughout the following days.

My dog Archer is a stubborn guy so when I was teaching him to sit I had to put a bit of pressure on his butt and with my other hand – put light pressure on his chest to help pull him back into the sitting position. After a few times of being sat down and rewarded with a treat and praise – Archer understood what was being asked of him.

At no time should you be forcing or hurting your dog into position.


I once spoke with a couple that was having trouble with their pup not listening to their commands. After talking with them a few minutes it became evident they were using different language for their dog. One partner was using “heel” -the other was using “stay close.” One was using “stay”- the other was using “wait.” Once they started to use the same language they found that their puppy responded better while command training.

This is where your dog’s care plan comes into play. When training your dog you want to make sure all family members are using the same language.

Too Much

Young pup looking up at her person.Years ago a family friend asked me why their dog would lose interest during command training. They were asking their dog to do several commands all in a row. The dog was losing interest and getting distracted trying to complete their many commands. To start command training you don’t want to give your dog more than one command.

Later when you have been command training for a while you can give your dog a couple of commands to do in a row.

I have found that 5-10 minute training sessions are long enough. Ideally doing 3-4 sessions a day.

I buy treats that can be broken into pieces so I’m not stuffing my dog full of treats and this is more cost-efficient.

The Walk

I have found, especially with younger dogs, that an exercised dog that has rid herself of pent-up energy is a better listener. After the walk is a prime time to practice commands.

If you do command training during the walk- wait until you are 10-15 minutes into the walk. This way your dog has had some exercise and a chance to explore outside and you will have her attention while training.

I find it helpful to make eye contact with my dog while training. This says to your dog I need your attention.

No Such Thing as a “Bad Dog”

I don’t tell my dogs they are “bad” or call them “bad dogs.” If I want to stop a behavior I tell them “no” – loud and firm. We don’t want our dogs to feel unloved or ashamed because they are a “bad dog.”

While training keep in mind that dogs want to please us, we are their world. Sometimes a dog may get over excited or distracted while training and this is normal. I have worked with dogs that respond to commands quickly. Other dogs it has taken longer as they may get distracted or over excited. Patience, encouragement and consistency is key.

Bottom Line

We want to set our dogs up to succeed-start simple as not to overwhelm your pup. Use treats and encouragement when they succeed. Use their name often and when they do succeed – get excited- say their name and then give them a treat. Saying their name followed with a treat- trains the dog that when you say his name and he responds – he is rewarded.

Young woman hugging a big dog.  Both are smiling.A reminder – you know your dog best. If you are given dog advise that doesn’t feel right to you-go with your gut and look at other options.

If you have any questions or comments – please let me know in the comments below.

Thank you


“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”

Author Dean Koontz

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