5 Rules of Dog Training + 5 Basic Commands to Start You Off

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Dog training can be a fun and rewarding human-dog bonding experience. It can also be overwhelming and frustrating at times. We provide a framework + five basic commands to get you on your way to a well-trained companion. 

Our team at fitdogster.com spent over 35 hours researching dog training. We did internet research, social media research, and spoke with trainers.  We also conducted “hands-on” training sessions with dogs ourselves. This put the training rules, tips, and techniques into practice.  

Before we dig in, keep in mind the five rules of dog training.  These rules will make your sessions go a lot smoother and make your dog a lot happier to take part!

Basic Training Tips

In addition to the Five Rules of Dog Training, we offer some basic training tips. Above all, keep it positive.  Positive reinforcement or reward-based encouragement is the foundation of good dog training.

While many people use only treats for training, it’s worth considering using a clicker too as positive reinforcement.  Clickers are easy and effective. The dog uses the sound to immediately understand if what they have done is matching expectations.  A clicker can be used for basic and more advanced commands. 

Remember, keep your training lessons manageable.  Limit sessions to 10 – 15 minutes by focusing on one command. This will maintain your dog’s attention and help to optimize the efficiency of the session.  

Last, prepare for ups and downs.  Some days you’ll be in total sync and everything goes well.  On other days you’ll struggle to get your dog to cooperate.  Keep focused on long-term progress. 

5 Basic Training Commands


“Sit” is one of the most basic dog commands to teach your dog. This makes it a great beginner command. This command makes a dog much calmer and easier to control. Additionally, the “Sit” command builds a nice foundation for more difficult commands such as “Stay” and “Come”. 

  • Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and motion up and back at a 45-degree angle.
  • The dog will follow the treat, bending his head back until he’s sitting.
  • Once he’s sitting, say “Sit” and click and then reward them with the treat. Feel free to also share affection too!
  • Repeat this a few times every day until it’s mastered.
  • Thereafter, try using it in practical situations when you want the dog to be calm.  Make the dog “sit” as you prepare him for a walk or before mealtime.  


The “Stay” command will also make your dog easier to control. This command will come in handy in several situations when you want your dog to remain calm or out of the way. This one can take a while, so be patient!

  • Use this with the “Sit” command. As your dog sits, hold your open palm in front of his face and say, “Stay”. At the same time hold the leash with your other hand. 
  • When she stays for a few seconds, say, “Stay”. Take a few steps back then give the dog a treat.
  • Repeat this a few times. 
  • Gradually move further away from your dog and increase the time you ask him to stay before you give him a reward.
  • This command helps in emergency situations or when you need the dog to stay when you attend to another important task. 


“Come.” is another important command for your dog to learn. This command is easy to teach. It is helpful for instances where they’re off leash intentionally or accidentally. 

There are two good ways to teach the “Come” command.

Option 1

  • Have someone hold your dog while you go to another room or two away in the house.
  • Call your dog by saying, “Come!” 
  • You might need to try this command a few times before he understands. 
  • Once he does, click and give him a treat. 

Option 2

  • Have a leash and collar on your dog.
  • Get down to his level. Say, “Come,” while gently pulling the leash.
  • When he gets to you, reward him – click, treat and/or offer affection. 

Once he’s perfected it with a leash you can practice this one without a leash in an enclosed area. 


Start with your dog sitting. Also, use a really smelly treat!

  • Hold a treat in front of his nose, and move with it straight down on the floor. 
  • Then slide your hand in front of him so his head follows along with his body.
  • He should follow the treat to the floor, then he will lie down.
  • When he lies down, click, give him a treat, and/or offer affection.

Leave It

The “Leave it” command can help keep your dog safe when he’s curious but what he’s interested in is possibly dangerous. What you’ll want to teach him is that he gets something even better if he leaves the other thing.  

  • Have a treat in both hands.
  • Show one enclosed fist (with a treat in it) and say “Leave it”.
  • Ignore behaviors, as he’ll be attracted to the treat.
  • Once he’s calm and stops then give him the treat in the other hand.
  • Keep repeating until your dog moves away from the first fist when you say “Leave it”.

You can also practice this with a tasty treat and one less appealing treat. This may help reinforce this better as he may pass up the less appealing treat for the tasty treat.

To Sum It All Up

Teaching your dog basic commands can be a great dog-human bonding experience.  Be patient and just understand there will be good days and not-so-focused days for your dog.  Stay calm and be positive.  The longer-term rewards for you will be well worth it.

If you’re struggling with dog training the American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a live telephone service as well as video consultations through its AKC GoodDog! Helpline

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Mother of three children and avid dog lover. I've had several dogs over the years including Border Collies, Pomeranians and Shih Tzus. We absolutely love our current Shih Tzu Fiona and I'm consumed with learning about all dog breeds, dog fitness and discovering new dog wellness tips!

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