Basics In Dog Training

The majority of dogs don’t have any kind of formal training. When you’re a busy dog owner, it can be difficult to find the time to train your dog. If you’ve ever had an unruly dog, then you’ve probably felt the frustrations of owning an untrained dog.

While you might feel frustrated, it is important to remember that untrained dogs are typically feeling frustrated as well, as they are unable to communicate their needs to their owner. If you’re new to dog training, we’ve mapped out some essential dog training skills, and how you can master them.

4 Essential Dog Training Skills

Before beginning any kind of training session, you should remember these initial dog training tips - stay patient, positive, pay attention to your body language, and work in short 10-15 minute time frames, and don’t forget to mix your commands up to make sure they are not learning commands in patterns.

1. House Training Your Dog

The first thing you should teach your dog is how to be house broken. There are a number of reasons why housetraining is important. For one, you will be frustrated cleaning up after your dog, if they are constantly making messes and peeing in the house. Secondly, dogs are genetically wired to like structure and do not want to live in a messy habitat either. Potty training requires patience, positive reinforcement, and routine. Basic steps to house training:

Set up limitations. When you first begin house training your dog, it is important to set up barriers. Put up doggy gates to keep them out of certain areas of the house, and close the doors to bedrooms. This will help limit the amount of space your dog can create messes in, especially if you have long work hours. Lastly, you should try to crate train your dog, so she has her own dedicated area that she feels like is hers.

Create a routine. Dogs like routines and habits. Feed your dog at the same time every day, walk your dog at regular intervals for bathroom breaks, and show her that she has specifically set times to go to the bathroom, so she won’t feel tempted to go in the house.

Don’t get mad at your dog for going to the bathroom in the house. One of the most frustrating aspects of being a dog owner is when they go to the bathroom in the house. Dogs don’t understand what they’ve done wrong. Most of the time, dogs go to the bathroom in the house, because they have not been taken outside consistently.

Reward your dog when they go to the bathroom in the right area. If your dog has a puppy pad, or if they go to the bathroom outside, it’s important to treat your dog when they go to the potty in the right area.

2. Teach your dog to come when called

One of the most important skills you can teach your dog is how to come when called. This skill can keep your dog safe and make taking them to the dog park a lot less frustrating.

One way to reinforce this is by getting excited when your dog comes to you when you call for them. Whether they are coming from another room, or they stop chasing the cat to run to you, you should make it feel like it’s the most important thing they’ll do all day.

Begin to train your dog to come by taking them on-leash to a quiet area with little distractions. Slowly scoot away from your dog, then tell them to “come” in an enthusiastic voice.

Only use the command once, stay relaxed, and most importantly, give the command with enthusiasm. If you need to, you can show them a treat for encouragement. As soon as your dog begins to come towards you, positively reinforce them with a “yes!”, then treat your dog when it gets to you.

Once your dog gets comfortable coming at a certain distance, begin to increase the distance, until they will come any time you call off leash.

3. Teach your dog how to stay

Like teaching your dog to come when called, teaching your dog to stay is another important command for their safety. Teaching your dog to stay is similar to teaching your dog to come.

Start close to your dog, putting them in a sitting position. Place your hand out and say “stay.” Take a step back, then reward her. Continue doing this until your dog understands she will get a treat to stay sitting. After multiple training sessions, create larger distances and times for your dog to stay. Once your dog really starts to get it, you can introduce distractions into the mix.

4. Teach your dog to “leave it”

Another command that is vital for keeping your dog safe is “leave it.” Dogs have a tendency to put things in their mouths that could harm them, or engage in aggressive behaviors when other dogs are egging them on. Teaching your dog to “leave it” will take patience and consistency.

Begin the training session with a dog treat in your hand and your dog in a sitting position. Show your dog the treat, say “leave it,” and then put the treat under your shoe. Inevitably, your dog will try to get to the treat. When she gives up on getting to the treat, say “yes,” and give her another treat from your hand. It’s important to not give her the one under your shoe.

Continue this process, until your dog does obeys your command. It is important to remember to treat your dog and give a positive affirmation every time it does the right thing.


Dog training is an ongoing process, but with consistency and patience, you can master the most important commands. Whether your dog is a puppy or an adopted dog, the above skills are the most essential to creating a healthy companionship between you and your dog.