Puppy Training Commands: Everything You Need To Know (2023)

When you get a new puppy, you may end up feeling a little overwhelmed, or unsure how to go about training them.

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Puppy Training Commands: Everything You Need To Know (1)

Having a puppy can be a challenge, but with a little basic training, you can start building upon having a well-rounded dog that can be obedient and understanding.

Many new dog owners may also feel that their puppy is not listening to them, or the training is not going as planned.

If this is the case, you may not be communicating well with your puppy.

Dogs need clear and direct communication as they do not understand what we are trying to say to them.

If your commands are unclear, or you have too many words- then your puppy may be confused and not know how to react.

Don’t worry- this is a common mistake that many owners make at first!

In this guide, we can go over the basics, show you how to communicate with your puppy, and which commands to start with, so that you can build up to the more complicated ones.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Training a puppy is an ongoing process that takes time, so don’t panic if you don’t get it right straight away. We’ll walk you through it.

How To Teach Your Puppy Commands – The Basics

The most important thing that you have to know is that you need to engage your puppy’s focus. Puppies are inquisitive, and curious, but have short attention spans.

You need to harness that attention span if you want to train your puppy the right way.

When teaching your puppy any command, there is a successful way to do it. For instance, you first need to grab your puppy’s attention.

You can do this by using a lure or a high-value treat.

Then, you need to ensure that you make eye contact with your puppy, so it understands that you are communicating with them.

When eye contact is achieved, you can then say the command that you want to teach.

When the command is done correctly, mark this with a ‘Good’ or ‘Yes’, and reward with a high-value treat or food.

Then, finally, you can use the marker ‘Break’ to release the puppy, and again, reward it with food.

So, the process should look like this:

Attention > Eye Contact > Command > Marker ‘Good’ or ‘Yes’ & Reward > Release & Reward.

Let’s break this down in a little more detail.


The first step is to gain your puppy’s attention. This could be done by calling their name, using a lure with food, or using their favorite toy to grab their attention.

If your dog is not noticing you yet, or your puppy does not know its name quite yet, then place the lure near its nose and let it focus on it.

Establishing Eye Contact

The next step is to establish eye contact.

Once their eyes have focused on the lure or the food, you can pull it towards you, so that your puppy is looking directly at you, and you them.

Say The Command

When eye contact is established, say the command that you want them to complete. For example, if you want to teach your dog to sit, just say the command loudly and clearly.

Don’t use additional words such as ‘please sit down’, or ‘sit, come on, sit, sit!’. Just say ‘SIT’.

You can also use a hand signal so that your puppy begins to associate your body language with the command and what you want them to do.

If your puppy is very young, you can use additional body language to help them perform the task.

For instance, if it is a brand new command, then you can use the lure to help them find their place, or use your hands to guide the puppy.

Mark The Behavior

When your puppy can do the required command, mark the behavior with a ‘Good’, ‘Yes’, or a clicker. Then, reward with food or a treat.

This lets them know that you are happy with the behavior, and this is what you wanted. The behavior is therefore reinforced, and your puppy is more likely to do it again.

Mark And Release

Finally, your puppy has successfully done the behavior you asked of them, so you can break or release them, and reward them again.

The Essential Commands

When you have a new puppy, you will need to implement training as soon as you can. This can give you both the best start.

But, there are a few commands that you will want to begin with. These are:

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Place/Bed
  • Stay
  • Come

These are all commands that every dog should know. Giving your puppy basic training as soon as possible can help them grow into confident, sociable dogs.

Training can also be a great way to mentally stimulate your puppy, tire them out, and keep them happy.

Dogs love having something to do, so short training sessions can help them feel more fulfilled, and it is also fulfilling for you as the owner to see their progress.

How To Communicate With Your Puppy

If you are struggling to train your puppy, or you feel that maybe you are not really getting anywhere, then there could be a breakdown in communication somewhere.

It could be that your body language is off, your commands are not clear, or a range of things. So, let’s take a look at how you can effectively communicate with your puppy.

Keep An Eye On Your Body Language

Puppies can really pick up on our body language, and if you are anxious or angry, then this can make your puppy feel the same.

If you are really excitable, then your dog may become really excitable.

Being confident can help your puppy feel more confident. Ensure that your body language makes your puppy feel calm, relaxed, focused, and confident.

Stand up straight when giving commands, and act like a leader. You are the boss, and they need to focus on what you are doing and saying.

Remain Calm

It is so vital that you remain calm and keep an eye on your tone of voice.

Puppy training can be frustrating, but if you start getting angry, then your puppy may start getting anxious or frustrated themselves.

Use a nice, calm but firm tone, as this can help your dog calm down and settle instead of being overwhelmed with excitement.

Be Patient

Puppy training is an ongoing process, and puppies do not have long attention spans. Therefore, after a few minutes, they may lose interest.

You have to be patient, and practice for short, brief periods, time and time again.

You also need to give your puppy some time to respond.

They may not get it right away, but that is fine. Give your puppy a few seconds to figure out the command before trying again.

Don’t Repeat Commands

One of the biggest mistakes owners make is repeating the command a lot when the puppy is not responding. Saying ‘SIT, SIT, SIT, SIT, SIT, SIT’ is not going to get you anywhere.

Puppy Training Commands: Everything You Need To Know (2)

This can confuse your dog, and they may start to ignore and tune you out.

Instead, use a firm tone, and say the command once.

Wait a few seconds, and if they do not respond, then you can repeat the command again with a firmer tone, and try again.

Use Clear Commands

Puppies and dogs do not understand English. They can learn a few commands, but they do not understand sentences.

So, use clear, brief commands that are one or two words. Saying ‘Oh my baby boy, sit down for mommy’ is not going to work. Use clear, concise words to get your puppy to do what you want.

Be The Most Exciting Thing In The Room

To maintain your puppy’s focus, you need to be the most exciting thing in the room. As long as you have food, treats, or a lure, you can keep your puppy’s focus on you.

This can also help to limit distractions. If you have a demeanor and supplies that can keep your puppy looking at you, you can get more training done.

When you are training your puppy, it is best to limit distractions.

Let other members of your household know that you are taking a few minutes to complete a training session, so no one comes walking in on you, as this could distract and excite the puppy.

Training The Initial Commands


To train your puppy to sit, the process is simple.

At first, you may need to guide your puppy into the position.

Start with your puppy in a standing position, and hold a treat near the nose. Keep the treat there, and then move your hand so that it arcs over the head.

Your puppy’s nose will follow the treat, and their bottom will sit on the floor. Say the command ‘Sit’.

When the bottom goes on the floor, and your puppy is sitting, mark the behavior, give the treat, and praise.

Repeat until you no longer have to guide the nose, and your puppy knows what to do when the command is given.


Once you have mastered ‘Sit’, you can start the ‘Down’ command.

When your puppy is sitting, hold a treat in your hand, and move the hand from the nose to the chest, and down towards the floor.

Your puppy will follow this and should lie down. Mark the behavior and reward as always.


Using a treat, lure your puppy onto their bed or into their crate, and say ‘Place’ when they get there. Once in their ‘Place’, ask them to sit or lie down.

Then, repeat the usual routine and mark the right behavior, before rewarding them. Then, you can release them from their place, and mark the behavior.

Once this is mastered, you can teach them to stay for longer periods in their place.


Once in their place, use a clear hand signal and say ‘Stay’. Take a few steps back slowly. When they stay, reward them with treats and mark the behavior.

This is a difficult one. You will need to try it for a few seconds and build up to longer periods in the ‘stay’ position.


Once your dog can stay, you can practice ‘Come’. Have your dog sit and wait in a certain place such as the bed.

Then, take a few steps backward, and say ‘Come’, releasing them from their place, and rewarding the behavior.

You can reinforce this when playing games outside, by getting them to stay, wait, and come towards you when called.

When Should I Start Training My Puppy?

Generally speaking, you should start training your puppy initially as soon as they come home. Most puppies come home at around 8 weeks old.

From then on, you can start with basic training and house training to get the ball rolling.

For young puppies, training sessions should be brief and often. At 8 weeks old, puppies can learn basic commands such as sit, stay, and come.

Even if you get your puppy at a later stage in its development, such as a rescue puppy, you can still start implementing some basic training as soon as you have them.

The earlier you start, the better.

How Many Hours A Day Should You Train A Puppy?

You should not be training a puppy for hours a day. Puppies have very short attention spans, and shorter bursts of training are far more effective.

It is best to stick to 5-minute sessions, as your puppy will start to get bored, frustrated, or distracted. You can repeat these 5-minute sessions throughout the day whenever you have time.

What Is The Hardest Age To Train A Puppy?

Puppies go through many stages of development.

You may think the initial puppy stage is difficult with the nipping, biting, and house training, but puppies can regress and become a little more naughty at around 9 months old.

When puppies are in the adolescence stage, dogs become ‘teenagers’, where they seem to forget their basic training, and you have to go back and repeat these processes to reinforce the training.

This stage can begin from 8-9 months old, and continue until the dog is around 2 years old. But, it is different for every dog.

We should note that this is just a stage, and due to the influx of hormones that your puppy is experiencing. You will get past it!

However, this is why it is so important that you start training your puppy as soon as possible to reinforce those good behaviors that you want.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, with the right tone, demeanor, body language, and tools, you can communicate well with your puppy, and train them the right way.

Follow our tips above, and get started today.

Just remember, puppy training is an ongoing process that should be done repeatedly over time if you want to reinforce those behaviors. It is not a quick fix!

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Sharon Isaacs

Hey everyone! My name is Sharon Isaacs, and I am one of the co-creators of PawPrintPets.com.

I knew from a young age that canines were the most interesting animals to me, and ever since I could study, read, and go to school I’ve been researching the best dog training practices.

I started PawPrintPets to provide in-depth guides and information to help you set up your canine companion for success, from the moment you have them.

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