4 Basic Commands to Start Teaching and Training a Puppy Early

4 Basic Commands to Start Teaching and Training a Puppy Early

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.

When Should I Start Training My New Puppy?

Do you have kids? Did you decide to wait and send them to school after they hit their teens? No, probably not. Unfortunately, this is still a common recommendation given to some novice dog owners—let the puppy grow up before starting training. By the time a dog is six months old, she is an adolescent, and as wild as a teenager who has never been asked to sit still in class and learn.

And there are dog owners that follow that advice! Many of you will remember “Marley,” and all the problems that author had with his Labrador Retriever. Remember the part where he is advised to let his dog grow up and start obedience training when he is old enough to benefit from classes? How many out there read that book and nodded their head in agreement?

“Waiting” is also a common belief where I live, and many new puppy owners will delay obedience training until six months. It is wrong though, and not the best thing for a puppy. Puppies can actually start training when only a few weeks old. I have begun basic training as early as five weeks, and since most new dog owners will not bring their puppy home until eight weeks of age, their puppy is old enough to start training.

There are a few things you need to remember when training a small puppy, though:

Differences in Training a Very Young Puppy and an Older Dog

  • No matter which training style you normally use, when working with a young puppy you must use treats and be positive. (I use these chicken liver treats.) Be sure to cut them up very small when training a new puppy; they should be no bigger than 1/3 of your little fingernail, and if you are working with a toy breed make them even smaller. Puppy tummies are small and fill up fast.
  • Use a gentle voice, and never speak to your puppy as loudly as you would do with an adult dog. NEVER yell, and no matter how you plan on training a dog of any age, you should never hit your puppy or dog.
  • Do not use a leash and lead your puppy around like you might do when training an adult dog.
  • Don’t try to teach tricks. Your puppy may be able to pick up a few things, like “spin,” but she is still not as coordinated as an adult dog and some movements are difficult for her. If she becomes frustrated she is going to be more difficult to train later on.
  • Keep your puppy training sessions short and fun.

Commands to Teach a New Puppy

CommandHow to Do It?


A relay is best. Call the puppy to you and give her a treat, then a second person does the same.


Hold a treat up in front of the puppy, and move it over her head so she sits down naturally.


When the puppy is sitting, hold the treat in front of her and move it down to the ground so she lies down natrually.


Put your hand in front of the puppy´s nose, give her the command to stay, and then immediately call her to you and give praise.

Basic Commands When Teaching Your Puppy Early

  • Teach Your Dog to Come: This is the ideal time to teach your puppy to come to you. Young puppies want to be close to you, and the hardest part will be to get them to stay away from you so that you can call them to repeat this command again. If you have two people training the new puppy, have them call her name and “come”, and then when she runs to the new person she is given a treat. Just repeat this a few times, and if the puppy starts running to the second person even without being called start working on something else. Puppies figure this out really fast, so DO NOT give her a treat if she is running to the new person even without being called.
  • Train Her to Sit on Command: Almost as easy as teaching a dog to come, you should teach this in the first session and reinforce it every time you are training. I say “sit” and, holding a treat in my fingers, move it over the puppy´s head so that she sits down naturally. There is no shoving down on her hind end, no negatives involved at all. If the puppy were to fail to sit, I would not give her the treat and would move on to something else so that she would forget quickly. This “treat in the fingers” method has only failed when I am training an old dog—with a new puppy it always seems to work.
  • Train Her to Lie Down: This is not as natural for your puppy, nor is it as easy to teach as sitting on command. I have seen far too many big dogs who never learned this command early and their owners are not able to handle them when they get big. To teach this command, tell her “down” when she is already sitting, then move the treat out in front of her face so that she has to stretch out and lie down to grab it. This needs to be repeated every session.
  • Train Her to Accept a Leash: You should not expect to train a very tiny puppy to the leash. Attach the leash to her collar and let her drag it around a little. When she is walking to a new place in the yard or apartment, hold on to the leash as she is walking. After a few sessions, you can start walking while she is wearing the leash, and she will walk alongside you. If you need to, give her a treat from time to time so that she stays interested in where you are going and does not pay attention to the leash.
  • Train Her to “Stay”: This is probably the most difficult of all commands for a puppy to learn, so I would not recommend you use it more than once during each short training session. (Unlike sit, which you can do over and over). When the puppy is sitting in front of you with his leash attached, put your hand in his face, say “stay” in a firm voice, and then move back a step or two (while you are stepping down on the leash). If the puppy stays, call him immediately and give him a treat and lots of praise!

Remember to make your training sessions short and make them fun for the puppy!

Keep Your Early Puppy Training Sessions Short

Young puppies, just like small children, have short attention spans. They are not able to go to long training sessions with other puppies. The best thing you can do for your puppy is to give her a 5-minute training session three or four times a day.

If you feel like you are not able to train your own puppy, and want to take her to formal classes held by a trainer, many will require that the puppy be old enough to have received her vaccines. You should start on the basics now, and think of those sessions as puppy kindergarten. If you have children, did you teach them to put on their shoes and button their clothes before kindergarten?

You need to do the basic training at home, even before kindergarten starts, and when she is old enough take her in for canine good citizen classes.

And remember to take a lot of pictures, because before you know it that little puppy is going to be that big dog sleeping in the corner of your bedroom. And enjoy it—training a puppy is easy and a lot of fun!

  • How to Train a Crazy, Chewy, Nippy Puppy
    Even when you manage to get control of the housebreaking issue, your new puppy is still going to provide you with plenty of perplexing problems. This article provides a few tips on how to deal with some of the most common puppy problems.
  • The Best Puppy Food Is Raw Dog Food
    The best food you can give your puppy is not in a bag, nor can you just go out and buy a can. Give your new puppy what she needs.
  • How to Teach Bite Inhibition To A Puppy
    Teaching a puppy to control the force of her bites is one of the most important things you can do for your dog. It may end up saving you, a family member, or a friend, and it may end up saving her life!

Questions & Answers

Question: I have four puppies, and they are seven weeks old. Can I train them together?

Answer: Each puppy will still need to learn each lesson, so training four puppies will probably take you 20 minutes, but it can definitely be done.

Question: How do I know if my puppy can hear?

Answer: If you have a white Boxer or one of the dogs that are prone to deafness, and you are concerned, you can do a test by standing behind the puppy, where he or she cannot hear you, and slapping the bottom of a pan. The noise is loud, and if the puppy does not jump up, he will at the least turn around.

Amie Butchko from Warwick, NY on February 06, 2014:

Great hub! I think I could learn a lot from you! I have a pug that says so!!!!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 29, 2014:

Hi Austinstar that is always sad to see, both with puppies and little kids. They are so fragile at this time, and even a harsh voice can scare them---to hit one really is too much.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 29, 2014:

It never fails to amaze me how many people punish their dogs for coming when called. If the puppy doesn't respond they yell, scream and even hit the dog for not coming. Well, duh! I wouldn't come either if you were going to yell and scream at me!

Bob Bamberg on January 28, 2014:

Another great hub which will be very helpful to folks if they just stay consistent. I've seen owners who go to puppy classes, but when they came into the store, the dog would be on his own at the end of the leash. They'd be reading labels or talking with someone, not paying attention to the puppy. He'd get away with behaviors that should be immediately corrected. It seems the owners forgot the training before the dog did. Voted up, useful and interesting.

It can be overwhelming to decide the best things to teach your puppy. One of the best ways to interact with your dog and to get him or her to pay attention to you is to teach look or watch me command. This isn’t necessarily a trick, rather it’s a way to capture your dog’s full attention before you begin training. To do this, simply decide which words you will use and be consistent (i.e. “look” or “watch me”). Before you begin teaching your dog anything else, say “look,” and offer a treat when she responds. When you have her full attention, move onto the training.

Dog Training Guide - Basic Level - Animal Wised

  • In this AnimalWised article, we will be offering you a guide on how to train basic level obedience exercises for your canine
  • Bare in mind, if you want to train yourself to become a professional in canine education, this is not the way, as you need to be qualified through a course.
  • In this short guide we will show you the five stages which make up the basic levels of all dog education.

8 people watched . see more. By: Animalwised 6 days All Courses

Before starting to teach your dog’s commands

  • Be patient and regular
  • Not to push the dog too hard at the start
  • Find a quiet place for the exercises – to avoid distractions
  • Make learning sessions short and simple
  • Make training exercises consistent and a regular thing
  • Never punish your dog
  • Practice at home or garden first before exercising commands publicly
  • Reward the dog for being good
  • Show him what you want him to know- force will not help
  • Teach the dog new commands as soon as he properly learns an old one
  • Make training fun & entertaining
  • Involve yourself in training exercises, not just the dog – he needs a friend to play with

Below is a list with 15 essential dog commands that every dog owner needs.

1. “Watch Me” command

To teach this command to your dog, you should keep the eye contact with the dog, while offering a great treat that you hold in your hand and moving the hand from the dogs nose upwards your face – so to be easy for the dog to watch you & when he watches at you give the command “Watch me”.

Repeat this exercise several times daily until the dog is adequately trained at this. Try to avoid using a treat as a distraction when the dog learns the practice, only use it as a reward.

This command is much needed to get the dog’s attention, and it is the bridge for teaching him other commands.

2. “Sit” command

This is another command that can be taught by putting the dog a treat close to his nose (to smell it better), moving the treat up – so he will follow the treat. The dog, however, cannot catch the treat, as it is naturally in a sitting position that allows him to pull his head high for following the treat & this is the moment you finally give the command “Sit” – accompanied with the treat & by showing affection for the dog. Then the exercise must be repeated until the dog learns the command appropriately.

This command is particularly necessary because through it you can prevent annoying dog behaviors such as dog stopping by to get in trouble with other dogs in the street, jumping on people when going for a walk. By giving this command, the dog will sit and will not move from the existing position. Release or set the dog free with an “Okay” or “Brake”.

3. “Down” command

This is considered a challenging command, as it puts the dog in a passive position. The command can be taught by getting some good smelling treat in a closed hand, then moving that hand close to the dog’s nose & at the moment he or she smells it you move the hand to the floor and the dog will follow. Next, you move the hand along the floor to provoke him to follow the food in a laid on position. The moment the dog is laid on, you give the command “Down” and give him the treat.

For the dog to learn the command, the exercise must be repeated several times daily & in case the dog tries to grab the treat with force say “No.” Release or set the dog free with an “Okay” or “Brake.

4. “Stay” command

This command is taught by asking the dog to “Sit” at first, putting him a treat close to the nose, and giving the command “Stay” & next making a few steps away. In case the dog stays and waits – offer him a treat if he does not – then you say “No” & gradually move few more steps away from the dog – for him to distinguish when he is carrying the exercise correctly and when he is not.

For the command to be properly learned by the dog, the exercise must be repeated several times daily. This command is efficient, as it keeps the dog self-controlled, something that is highly required – particularly in the hyper-energetic dogs.

5. “Heel” command

This command is taught by holding your dog’s leash in your right hand and pulling it on your left side while you are walking, and at a certain point commanding the dog to “Sit.” You also should hold the treat in your left hand & give the command “Heel” in a positive tone of voice.

Next, you should make a few steps, keeping the treat (typically food or toy) by your side.

At the moment you take a break, move the treat upwards, and the dog will sit – then, you can praise him with a treat to show him he is carrying out the task well.

Through this command, the dog will be told to walk right beside you, until you say differently & it is a very useful one, as it teaches the dog to behave next to you – as the owner when he is not leashed and your hands are busy.

6. “Wait” command

This command is taught by walking the dog toward the door and commanding him to “Sit” in front of the closed door. Then, pointing your fingers upwards, presenting the palm of your hand & commanding to “Wait.” As he waits, you open the door gradually, and when the dog tends to move towards the door, you close it – as a sign he needs to wait until he crosses the door.

Do this several times, daily, until he masters it – a time when you will open the door entirely and the dog will not make a move without your command. When you want to let the dog free to walk, you say “Okay,” “Yes” or “Brake” & reward the dog with a treat – as a sign, you agree for him to walk.

This command is very useful as it tells the dog not to run away, as the dog can run through public doors, hallways or stores’ entrances towards the road and put himself in danger.

7. “Come” command

This command can be taught by putting a collar and a leash on your dog, in a specific a distance to the dog, and asking him to “Come” towards you – at the same time pulling the leash a little. The moment the dog comes to you, you must give him a treat to make him aware of the purpose of the exercise – as the dog associates right with the treat.

This exercise must be repeated several times, daily, also, and when you want to release the dog merely say “Okay” and show him your affection.

This is a beneficial exercise since it can protect the dog, if trying to get in trouble with other dogs and if he runs away in the streets or if chasing something or someone.

8. “Off” command

This command is taught by keeping the treat in both closed hands, putting one of your closed hands very near the dog’s face so he can smell and lick it.

As the dog cannot get the treat – since your hand is closed, he will back off eventually, and this is the time for you to open the hand and offer him the treat & give the command “Off.”

This exercise must be repeated several times until the dog masters at it. This exercise is very useful if you want for the dog to get off the home furniture, something or someone.

9. “Take it” & “Drop it” command

This command can be taught by keeping a toy or other object that is of a value for the dog – in one hand, provoking the dog to follow the thing struggling to grab it.

The moment the dog opens the mouth to catch the thing, you must give the command “Take it”- so the dog makes a conditional association of the right thing with a treat (reward).

As he is enjoying his game, playing with that object, offer him an object that is duplicate of that one, that the dog is playing with, then the dog – as the purpose is of the same value to him, will be provoked to drop the first object and grab the second identical object.

The moment he drops it, give the command “Drop it,” and as he opens the mouth to grab the second object you give the command “Take it.”

This exercise needs to be repeated daily until the dog masters at it.

This command is imperative as it helps you to easily take away from the dog things that he harshly grabs.

10. “Out” command

This command can be taught by letting the dog get in his mouth one of his favorite toys. Then, grabbing and keeping a toy against your body, where the dog will initially insist on keeping the toy in his mouth, but as you will keep pulling it towards you, he will release it eventually. This is the moment you must offer the toy back to the dog & start over the same game – and as soon as the dog loses the interest to hold the toy anymore, give the command “Out.”

For the dog to properly master at this, you need to repeat it daily until the dog understands the purpose of the training and remembers the lesson correctly.

The command is needed when the dog gabs in his mouth things that you do not want them to hold.

11. “Leave it” command

This command can be taught by keeping a treat in both of your hands. Putting one of the hands close to the dog’s face – for him to smell it and lick it – and give the command “Leave it.”

Initially the dog will lick and smell the treat and possibly bark to have it, but eventually, he will lose the interest. That is the moment when you will offer the treat that you are hiding on the other closed hand.

Repeat the exercise it until the dog leaves the first treatment as soon as he hears “Leave it” & when he comes for the second treat you give him and show some affection. This exercise must also be repeated daily until the dog properly understands it.

12. “Place, Bed, or Crate” command

This command can be taught by having your dog leashed, holding a leash in one hand and with a treat in the other hand. Guiding the dog with a leash & with the treat that you are holding in the other hand provokes the dog to move towards the place (that can be a bad, a crate, a carpet or a blanket) where you want the dog to stay, & at the moment the dog gets inside the place you must give the command “Place”, and give him the treat.

Repeat this exercise a few times until the dog gets the command properly. To release the dog from the place, just grab it through the leash and say “Okay” or “Brake.”

This command is very beneficial as it tells the dog to stay in his own chosen place. Instead of the term “Place,” you might use the term such as “Your bed,” “Your crate,” “Your blanket” or else when you teach this command to your dog.

This command will help you to position your dog when you want for him to sleep, take a nap or when you have people or kids around your dog, and you do not wish destruction from the dog.

13. “Stand” command

This command can be taught by asking the dog to “Sit” and then getting a treat in your hand that you must put close to the dog’s nose forward and down.

The dog will follow the treat lower and then you must once more move forward your hand with a treat on it, so to put the dog in a standing position as he follows the treat with his mouth. And, this is the moment you give the command “Stand” and offer him the treat as a reward he is doing the right thing.

This exercise must be repeated several times daily also until the dog properly learns it.

This command is needed when the veterinary wants to examine the dog when you want to brush the dog and in many other cases when the standing position of the dog is necessary.

14. “No” command

This command can be taught by putting a treat on the ground and keeping the dog leashed while walking towards the treat. The moment the dog gets provoked by the treat and makes efforts to grab it, you need to tell the dog your command “No” and pull the dog slightly through the leash against you. As he comes approaches and watches you – give him a treat that you are holding in the off-leash hand and say “Yes”- and show him some affection.

Repeat the same command over and over again, daily, and the dog will master at it eventually.

This command is especially important as it keeps the dog away from an improper behavior that might end up doing at home, street, or elsewhere and it immediately brings him back to you.

15. “Settle down”command

This command can be taught by holding a clicker in one hand and a treat on the other hand. Next, pulling the clicker to guide the dog to go in a crate, blanket, small carpet or basket (that are placed few feet away from where you stand) & as soon as he gets in there giving the command “Settle down” and offering a treat inside that place where the dog is sitting – as a reward he is doing the command properly.

Release the dog with an “Okay” or “Brake,” and he will come back to you.

Repeat the exercise enough – daily until the dog gets the exercise correctly.

This command is given to calm down, relax the dog and get him settled in a specific place and it is especially helpful if the dog receives hyperactive and you are trying to do a job from home, trying to clean, have a baby around that is trying to get asleep or when you are trying to have a conversation with a visitor.

Leash Training Dogs and Puppies

Every dog needs to learn to walk on a leash. Besides the fact that most areas have leash laws, there will be times when keeping your dog on a leash is for his own safety. Learn how to introduce your dog or puppy to the leash, then teach him how to walk properly on the leash, even beside you on a bike. A loose leash walk teaches your dog not to pull or lunge when on ​the leash, making the experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog.