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The Top 10 Commands To Teach Your Puppy First

For first time dog owners, knowing when and how to train your new puppy can often be confusing - though the benefits of teaching a puppy basic obedience skills will be invaluable for years to come.

Regular training sessions are one of the easiest ways to establish a bond with your new puppy, not to mention one of the most rewarding parts of being a dog owner. Establishing a regular training routine for your puppy will help to create a safe, happy and loving household for them to grow in, whilst also providing mental and physical stimulation to promote a healthy lifestyle. The most important factor to remember during any type of dog training is patience. Not all dogs learn at the same pace, which is why it’s important to not set too high expectations and instead remember to just have fun and enjoy the process.

What Commands Should I Teach My Puppy First?

Most dog owners are aware of just how important housetraining a puppy is, and that they can begin their puppies toilet training as early as eight weeks old. What you might not know is that they can start learning basic obedience commands such as sit, down and stay (among others) as soon as they’re through the front door and feeling settled.

Below we’ve provided a list of the top 10 training commands to teach your puppy first to create a more balanced, relaxed household.

  1. Teach Your Puppy Their Name
  2. Teach Your Puppy To Come
  3. Teach Your Puppy To Sit
  4. Teach Your Puppy To Stay
  5. Teach Your Puppy To Leave It
  6. Teach Your Puppy To Lay or Go Down
  7. Teach Your Puppy To Wait
  8. Teach Your Puppy To Watch You/Focus
  9. Teach Your Puppy To Heel
  10. Teach Your Puppy The Off Command


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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy Their Name?

Putting aside time each day to teach your puppy their name is an invaluable lesson that will allow your puppy to experience more freedom later on.

Giving your puppy a name and teaching them to respond to it is a fun and effective way to start successfully training your new puppy and will be extremely helpful in teaching your puppy new commands in future.

Step By Step Process For Teaching a Puppy Their Name

One of the best methods for teaching a puppy their name is to play the name game.

Step 1: Say your puppy’s name in a happy, reassuring tone. Whatever name you’ve picked for your puppy, be sure to use it a lot.

Step 2: Take your puppy to a quiet place with minimal distractions and then gain their attention by calling their name. Treats are a great way to encourage a positive response from your puppy. As soon as you’ve gained their attention, be sure to reward them with a treat and plenty of praise.

Step 3: Repeat this process for no more than a few minutes each day until your puppy has learnt to respond to their name.

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Why Is It Important To Teach My Puppy To Come When Called?

“Come” may be the most valuable command you can teach your puppy because it could realistically save their life. A puppy’s curiosity can often draw them towards life-threatening situations - during these situations you want to trust that your puppy will respond to your voice above all else.

It’s also critical for a successful trip to the dog park, which is a pretty big incentive to want to master this command.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Come When Called

One of the most important steps for successfully training a puppy to come to you is to make sure the training session is fun, enjoyable and rewarding for your puppy.

Step 1: Find a reward: Figure out what you want to reward your puppy with, whether it be a treat or one of their favourite toys. Start off by kneeling on the ground a few feet away from your puppy and wiggle their reward in front of you, at the same time saying their name and the command come. Be sure to use a happy, inviting tone when asking your puppy to come to you.

Step 2: Once your puppy comes close to you be sure to reward them straight away and give plenty of verbal praise.

Step 3: Repeat this process and reinforce this learning by practicing it a few times per day. It’s important to use your puppy’s name and the come command in various situations, not just when training or asking them to come inside, this will help your puppy to associate the command with various situations.

Step 4: Over time, it’s important to progress from your living room to the outdoors. Introducing new environments and slowly increasing the space between you and your puppy will help to discipline your puppy in various situations.

Step 5: If there’s any chance your puppy may disobey you during an outdoor session (this is likely in the beginning) then have the puppy wear a long, slack leash. If your puppy ignores you when you use the come command then a gentle tug on the leash can be used to get the puppy’s attention - all whilst using the command again in a happy, upbeat tone so that your puppy understands what you’re asking. Remember, your puppy’s training should always end on a positive note. If you see your puppy getting distracted, bored or disinterested in their training then be sure to end the session with some interactive playtime and try again tomorrow.


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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Sit?

The sit command is often the first command a puppy is taught - mainly because it’s probably one of the easiest commands to teach and is a great first stepping stone in successfully training your puppy. Not to mention it’s a vital skill that will be useful for the rest of your puppy’s life.

The sit command requires patience, from the both of you. How long your puppy takes to learn this command is dependent upon a multitude of factors - there’s no one size fits all in this scenario. This is why it’s important to remember not to feel disheartened if it takes a little longer for your puppy to master this command.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Sit

The sit command often translates to a ‘please’ from your puppy. They will soon learn that by sitting down they’re more likely to get their way - this is why it’s such a valuable lesson for a puppy to learn.

Step 1: Choose your desired reward whether it be a favourite toy or treats. Hold the reward over your puppy’s nose and slowly move it above their head.

Step 2: Your puppy will begin to slowly tilt their head back and naturally sit down on their own. As soon as their bum hits the floor, reward your puppy with your chosen reward and offer plenty of praise so that they associate this behaviour with positive connotations.

Step 3: After a few repetitions you can begin to introduce the command, ‘sit’ to teach a puppy to connect this behaviour with the given command

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Stay?

The biggest motive for teaching a puppy to stay is to instil patience. Puppies are delightfully curious, interested in everyone and everything - in fact the sheer amount of energy they exude in the beginning is often overwhelming for first time pet owners.

The stay command is a great lesson in impulse control, especially during meal time. It’s also important for your dog’s safety that they listen to you when you give this command. There’s plenty of distractions, people to meet and dogs to sniff outside and if they haven’t been taught proper socialisation skills yet then they could get themselves into trouble. Teaching them to stay when they want to run excitedly towards something will give you time to assess the situation and remove both you and your puppy if you need to before it gets out of hand.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Stay

Once you’ve taught your puppy to sit, it’s important to introduce the command stay. The goal here is to teach your puppy to remain in a seated position until you’ve given the command. This command is particularly useful when it comes to teaching your puppy good manners during feeding time.

Step 1: First, teach your puppy a release word, such as ‘free’ or ‘ok’ while tossing the treats on the floor for them to step towards

Step 2: Repeat this process a few times until your puppy has learnt to move forward first, without having to toss the treat on the floor. This teaches your puppy that the release command means to move forward.

Step 3: Repeat this process a few times until your puppy has learnt to move forward first, without having to toss the treat on the floor. This teaches your puppy that the release command means to move forward.

Step 4: Once your puppy understands the release command, ask them to sit. If they’re still in a seated position after a few seconds, reward them with a treat and use the release command.

Step 5: Once your puppy has learnt to sit still for a few seconds you can begin to increase the distance between you. Place your puppy in a seated position, using the command stay while taking one step back. If your puppy behaves correctly be sure to reward them with plenty of verbal praise and a treat right away.

Step 6: Repeat this process in increments, slowly increasing the distance and length of time you ask your puppy to stay in the one position. Practice this trick while facing your puppy and when your back is turned. The key here is to not expect too much from your puppy too quickly - there may be times where you need to slow down or repeat a step a few more times before moving onto the next step. This is totally normal and encouraged, the safer and more positive experience you can give your puppy the quicker they’ll learn.

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Leave It?

The 'leave it' command is a powerful tool that’s versatile in nature. Teaching a puppy the leave it command means you can tell your puppy to avoid something on the ground they might be heading for that you don’t want them to touch (or eat), as well as acts as a strong recall for puppies that love to chase.

Active puppies love to chase other animals, it’s in their nature. Teaching a puppy the 'leave it' command will mean you will have more control over your puppy in off-leash situations and quickly end a game of chase that could be dangerous or unwarranted. Below, we take you through our steps for teaching a puppy to leave it.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Leave It

The 'leave it' command is something that should be taught to all dogs and practiced frequently. Teaching your puppy this valuable skill protects them during their explorations and helps them to avoid hazardous situations.

Step 1: When teaching your puppy the 'leave it' command, it’s important to have two different treats. One that’s their absolute favourite and the other being one they couldn’t really care less about.

Step 2: Start by holding the lower value treat at your puppy nose level - hold your hand in a fist, allowing your puppy to sniff and lick your hand

Step 3: When your puppy starts to lose focus and ignore the low value treat, it's time to reward them with the other hand holding the high-value treat

Step 4: Once your puppy has learnt to ignore the low-value treat when your hand stays open, it’s time to introduce a cue command such as ‘leave it.’ Present your open hand with the low-value treat and say 'leave it', making sure to reward your dog when they behave correctly. Be sure to close your hand if they get tempted to lunge forward for the treat.

Step 5: Repeat this process until your puppy’s learnt to leave the treat alone on command

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Lie Down?

Puppies are typically calmer when lying on the floor, as opposed to seated which is why teaching a puppy to lay down is valuable in high risk or high excitement situations. Asking your puppy to lie down helps to shift your puppy’s mindset to a more relaxed, calm state - this is particularly useful for when new visitors come to visit.

Puppy’s often get excited by new faces and it tends to come out in the form of jumping - gently asking your puppy to lie down helps to avoid a situation where they’re jumping all over your guests. Below, we walk through the step by step process for teaching a puppy to lie down.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Lie Down On Command

Teaching a puppy to lie down is a great exercise in relaxation, and a positive way to teach them self control. Here’s how to teach a puppy to lie down on command using lure training.
Step 1: Present your puppy’s favourite reward, whether it be their favourite treat or toy to further entice your puppy and quickly grab their attention

Step 2: Place your puppy in the sit position (note: it’s best to teach your puppy to sit before teaching the down command). Once your puppy is seated on the ground, introduce a new cue command such as down

Step 3: Hold their reward in front of their nose and slowly lower it to the ground ahead of them. This will entice your puppy to follow your hand and slowly stretch their front paws forward into a down position. Make sure your puppy is all the way down to the floor. Once in position, be sure to reward them with a treat and plenty of positive reinforcement

Step 4: Practice this process several times to get your puppy used to this behaviour. It’s best to practice in short, 10-minute bursts instead of a marathon training session to keep your puppy’s attention and focus.

Step 5: It’s important to end with success, mistakes are bound to happen but ending on a positive note means your puppy will feel excited the next time you practice this trick rather than defeat

Step 6: Once your puppy has learnt to go down from a seated position it’s time to practice the command from a standing start - which will follow the same methodology as before

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Wait?

One of the most powerful commands you can teach a puppy is wait. The wait command can be incorporated into various situations to make daily life with your puppy more manageable.

If left unmanaged, most puppies will bound out the front door as soon as it opens, bolt towards somewhere they want to go or lunge forward to greet people when on a walk. Teaching a puppy to wait helps to avoid these situations altogether - we’ve outlined the steps to master this command below.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Wait

It may seem confusing, but the wait and stay command are two different skills that are valuable for your puppy to master. Stay refers to your puppy not moving at all, whereas wait essentially means to pause before following up with another command. This highly valuable skill will give you more control over your puppy’s behaviour and their sudden outbursts of energy. Keep reading for our step by step process on teaching a puppy to wait.

Step 1: The best way to teach a puppy to wait? Walk towards your back door or front door if you have a secured front yard. When your puppy excitedly starts to follow you, start using the cue command wait

Step 2: Slightly open the door, if your puppy tries to leave excitedly close the door again and say whoops or not yet

Step 3: Wait a few minutes until your puppy has calmed down, reach for the door and slightly leave it ajar if your puppy remains seated. If however, they try to bolt outside again close the door and again until your puppy has learnt that they will only be allowed to leave if they wait

Step 4: Reward is crucial to your puppy’s learning. Once they’ve sat still for a few short seconds without trying to get through the door offer a treat, along with the release command ‘ok’ or ‘yes’ and swing open the door for your puppy

Step 5: Repeat this process until your puppy understands that the wait command is associated with being able to go outside and that they have to wait for a command before they’re allowed to leave the house

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Focus?

Teaching a puppy to focus on you is an important skill that will make training your puppy that much easier! This command is particularly useful for pet owners with dogs (and puppies) who participate in sporting events, such as dog agility to get their attention and instruct them on what to do next. No matter your needs, focus or watch me command will come in handy. Keep reading for our step by step process for teaching a puppy to focus on you.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Focus

Having the ability to attract your puppy’s full attention is a gift and an essential part of their training. The command watch me or look is often used to get your puppy to focus on you. This method is particularly effective during your obedience training or when working on behaviour problems.

Step 1: Similarly to the name game, a clicker and some tasty treats will help to teach your puppy this command, as well as a quiet spot with little distractions

Step 2: Once you have a clicker and treats in hand say your puppy’s name, followed by the watch me or look command. If your puppy looks at your face after you’ve given the command then be sure to praise them with a click and treat.

Step 3: If you’re struggling to get your puppy’s attention then wave a treat in front of your puppy’s nose and pull the treat up to your face. Your puppy will be encouraged to follow the treat and look up at your face, once they do this be sure to praise them immediately.

Step 4: Puppies are easily distracted, so it’s important to train the focus command in various situations and environments. Continue practising, each time moving to a new environment to introduce new distractions.

Step 5: It’s important to teach this command in front of other dogs and people as well, to ensure that your puppy listens to you when in this environment

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy To Heel?

Teaching a puppy to heel is one of the quickest ways of teaching a puppy that you’re in charge when out on a walk together - this skill is a must-have if you ever want to teach your puppy to walk beside you unleashed. Keep reading to find out our step by step process for teaching a puppy to heel.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy To Heel

There are plenty of methods for training a puppy to walk beside you - though, we find the heel command particularly effective. To successfully teach your puppy this complex skill, first they must have mastered the sit, stay, come and focus command - without these valuable skills they will be difficult to teach.

Clicker training is one of the most effective ways to get the results you want, fast. Oh, and treats, of course.

Step 1: The easiest way to teach a puppy a new command or trick is by starting off in a non-distracting, familiar environment so that you can hold your puppy's focus for longer - this applies to all forms of training. Start off with a clicker in hand, and treats in the other.

Step 2: Encourage your puppy to sit, and stay before rewarding them with a click and a treat. Your puppy should remain in this position until you’re ready to walk forward. Start to slowly walk forward with your dog positioned beside you, ensuring their focus is solely on you.

Step 3: Hold the treats slightly a small distance away from their face, encouraging them to follow you around the room. Every time they take a step or two, reward them with a click and plenty of positive reinforcement for optimal effectiveness.

Step 4: If you start to run into any problems like your dog starts to wander off or loses focus then make sure to stop training immediately. Call your dog’s name, ask them to sit, stay and start training again once they’ve calmed down and are listening to you.

Step 5: It’s important to keep training in short, 10-15 minute bursts. Puppies don’t have long attention spans, and extending their training will often lead to irritability and negative feelings towards their training. It’s vital their training ends on a positive note as this will encourage progress.

Training a puppy to walk beside you on a leash is one of the most important skills for a puppy to learn. As a new owner, it will give you the confidence to travel to new environments and introduce new distractions without fear of what they might do. The heel command is one of the easiest ways to ensure your puppy’s safety when exploring outdoors.

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Why Is It Important To Teach A Puppy The ‘Off’ Command?

Puppies need to learn from an early age that jumping up on surfaces, or people isn’t allowed and that the best way to get what they want is by keeping all four feet on the ground - the off command is the best approach for this. Teaching a puppy the off command is essential for creating healthy boundaries in your home and around other people. Keep reading for our step by step process for teaching a puppy the off command.

Step By Step Process For Teaching A Puppy The Off Command

Teaching your puppy the off command is an extremely useful skill that allows you to create boundaries for your puppy and avoid them jumping on surfaces they’re not supposed to be on, as well as jumping up on you.

The off command is slightly different to teaching other commands/tricks. The difference being that you’re working counterproductively, instead of teaching learnt behaviour before your puppy shows signs of misbehaving you’re waiting for your puppy to behave inappropriately to teach them the correct behaviour.

This process doesn’t really require steps, more like recommendations. When you see your puppy with it’s paws on the counter or making themself comfortable on your bed then it’s time to introduce the command, off, or down. Use a slightly more stern voice so that your puppy understands the difference in your tone when they’re misbehaving, but never yell.

Be sure to react quickly, as this will help your puppy connect your command with this action. As always, treats really come in handy here! Once you use the off command show your puppy the treat - it will encourage them to put all four paws on the floor, which you can then reward them for.

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Puppy Training Tips & Tricks

Training a puppy right from the beginning is crucial, as it means they’re less likely to develop behavioural problems later on. There are a few other measures you can take to ensure your training happens more smoothly, which we’ve mentioned below:

Environment - Choosing the right environment for training your puppy is crucial to your success. Training a puppy in a quiet, familiar environment will create less distractions, and encourage your puppy to focus their attention on you. If your puppies training takes place in a new environment each time it will be difficult to hold their attention for long.

Duration - As mentioned earlier, training your puppy for extended periods of time will likely cause your puppy to become irritable and to stop listening to you. Keeping your training sessions to 10-15 minute bursts each day, allowing them to soak in what they learnt and end on a positive note so that both of you feel excited about trying again tomorrow.

Treats For Training - Reward-based training, combined with positive reinforcement is the most effective solution for training a puppy and dogs in general

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Common Mistakes Made During Puppy Training

Bringing a new puppy into your life is exciting but without an understanding of the do’s and don'ts of puppy training things won’t exactly go as planned. By avoiding the most common puppy training errors owners make you can increase the odds of enjoying the experience and nurturing your puppy into adulthood, well-behaved.

Waiting Too Long To Begin Training Your Puppy

Puppies are capable of learning basic obedience commands from as early as eight weeks old, essentially the moment they’re through your front door they can begin their training. It’s common for puppy owners to overlook this - thinking that the only training their puppy needs is house training.

Simple obedience commands such as sit, stay, down and come will prove to be useful in maintaining a well-behaved puppy into adulthood. So the lesson here, start your training right away!

Too Much Independence

Puppies are extremely curious. If allowed, they’ll wander through every room and investigate it until satisfied. If you give your puppy too much independence they will inevitably get themselves into trouble, including destroying clothing, chewing on wiring, or eliminating in one of your rooms. The easiest way to prevent this from happening? Ensure that your puppy is either with you or in their crate where you can keep a close eye on them.

Failing to Establish A Routine

Puppies learn best when they have a routine to stick to. Knowing when they will eat, walk, play and sleep boosts your puppies confidence and gives them something to look forward to each day. For puppies, creating a reliable routine around feeding, walking, eliminating and playing helps to prevent accidents from happening, and behavioural mishaps that can be stressful for both you and your puppy.

Pushing a Puppy’s Face in Their Mess

A puppy has no idea what you’re teaching them when you push their face into their own mess, other than to fear you. Furthermore, this can often encourage puppies to do their business in hidden areas of the house, such as cupboards to avoid being seen. This is where crate training can often save the day. By nature, puppies are very clean and want to be about as close to their urine-soaked space as much as you do, which means they’re more likely to alert you to the fact that they need to go to the toilet rather than have an accident in your house. This section can then provide an internal link to the article The Ultimate Guide To Crate Training Your Puppy (2021).

Scolding Your Puppy

If you see your puppy misbehaving, or simply come across a mess in the hallway it’s important to remain calm, and avoid expressing any negative behaviour towards your puppy. Puppies have a poor sense of time and will struggle to understand what they’re being punished for if you get angry with them an hour after the fact. The best thing to do is clean up the mess thoroughly, making sure your puppy doesn’t return to the scene of the crime and feel inclined to eliminate in the same area twice. Instead, return your puppy to their crate and reduce their independence for the time being. Remember your puppy is still learning and is bound to make mistakes, scolding them will only draw out the learning process.

Failing To Properly Puppy Proof Your Home

As we said, puppies are curious and extremely likely to get into anything left unattended, including shoes, socks, underwear, toys - you get the picture. It’s a common mistake to forget how inquisitive and scent-driven puppies are, not to mention going through their teething stage and are inclined to chew absolutely everything. Puppy-proofing your home is an essential preparation task that needs to happen before your puppy is brought inside. By puppy-proofing, we mean removing clothes, and loose objects that your puppy can reach or knock over as well as hiding loose cables that they’re likely to chew.


It’s important to start training your puppy as soon as possible to better prepare your puppy for adulthood. Teaching your puppy basic obedience commands gives your puppy the freedom to explore, go on adventures, socialise and live a healthy, active life.

To reiterate, the most important factor of training a puppy is to remember to have fun and to use plenty of positive reinforcement, combined with reward-based training to encourage and excite your puppy about each and every training session