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The top 5 commands to teach your dog

A few basic commands are vital to keep your new dog safe and well behaved. Here are the most important ones – and how to teach them

Catrin Pascoe

Posted 32d ago

Main image: Getty Images

By Jenny White

Bringing a new dog home is a hugely exciting experience, but with it comes the need to train him so that he’ll behave properly in your home and when you’re out and about. This is essential so that both he and other people are safe. If you’re unsure where to start, here are five of the most important commands – and how to teach them.

1."Sit"

This is an essential training building block; you can use it to calm your dog down, to distract him, to get him to wait patiently for a treat, food or to cross the road, and as a starting point for teaching other commands such as “paw” or “stay”.

To train your dog to sit, hold a treat in your hand. Say “sit” and move the treat over his head, towards his tail. The dog’s nose should follow it, and as it does, he will automatically sit down.

Tell him, “Good boy” and give him the treat. Repeat until he sits on command.

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2.“Stay”

This is important for your dog’s safety – for example, it will enable you to ensure he stays still when waiting to cross a road or while you’re getting him out of your car.

Tell your dog to sit and then take a step away, saying, “stay”. If he stays, go back to him and reward him. If not, repeat the process until he does. You can gradually increase the distance you go from him.

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3.“Come”

The command “come” or “come here” will ensure the dog returns to you when called. This is known as having “good recall.” If you want your dog to be able to run freely in the park, it’s essential you can get him back when you need to.

Dogs’ capacity for getting into trouble should not be underestimated: you may have to stop your pet from raiding a picnic, chasing another dog or barking at a skateboard – whatever it is, good recall will save the day.

Begin teaching him in the house, getting him to come to you for treats. Once he’s happily doing that, take him outside on a long lead and practice the same routine. Finally, let him off the lead and call him back for treats. Do this in a quiet park to start with, to avoid distractions.

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4.“Down”

A useful command for calming your dog down and reasserting control if he’s become overexcited, this command gets him to lie down on his tummy. To teach this one, hold a treat in front of him and lower it to the floor. He’ll lower himself too, and when he reaches the full “down” position, give him the treat. Repeat until he’ll do it on command.

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5.“No”

This command has infinite uses, and you’ll probably find yourself using it from the outset! It can stop your dog getting into all sorts of trouble and danger.

To accelerate the dog’s understanding of this command, put your dog on his lead, place a treat on the floor and say “no”, pulling him away from the treat with the lead. Once he leaves it, reward him with a treat.

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