Who Says You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

If you are looking to break bad behaviors in your dog, your solution may just be a few simple commands away! Commands use short words with different sounds so that they do not confuse your dog. While training a dog from a young age can be easier, adult dogs can catch on to these 5 basic commands pretty easily with enough consistency and reward.


The sit command is one of the easiest to learn and one of the most useful. First, hold a treat close to your dog’s nose so that they catch the scent of the treat. Then raise your hand above their head until they raise their head and move their bottom to the sitting position. Once your dog is in the sitting position, say “sit” and follow with a treat and plenty of praise. If your dog will not move to the sitting position, try pushing the behind down to the ground. If they move to stand up, quickly tell them “NO” and push the bottom back down to the sitting position while saying “sit.” Repeat this until they sit and present the reward and praise.


Once your dog has fully conquered the sit command, you can begin to train them on listening to the stay command. First, tell your dog to “sit.” Then, with a treat in the palm of one hand, hold your other hand up with your palm facing your dog and tell him or her to “stay.” If your dog tries to get up and move, firmly say “NO” and return your dog to the sitting position. Take a couple of steps back. If your dog listens, reward them with the treat. If not, start the process over again. Improve your dog’s response to this command by taking more and more steps back before rewarding them with a treat.


This command can be especially important if your dog escapes the leash or has run off ahead of you. With a leash and a collar on your pup, crouch down to their level at the end of the leash and gently tug the leash saying “come.” When your dog comes to you, reward them with praise and treat. Once your dog has seemed to learn this command, try it without a leash in a secure area.


This can be one of the more challenging commands, but with enough practice your dog will conquer this challenge as well. As with the “come” command, this command works best with a leash at first. Have a treat in hand and allow your dog to smell it. Then tell them to “sit.” Once they have entered the sitting position, move the treat from nose level to the ground while saying “down” and pulling gently downward on the leash. If your dog does not respond at first, try pushing down gently in between the collarbone while saying “down.” If this still does not work, grab your pup’s paws and pull them forward while saying down and holding the treat to the ground. Once your dog is down, present the award and praise. Continue to practice this until your dog is responding to the command without a leash.

Leave It

For the extra eager dogs who love to get into things, this command can be especially useful. Hold a treat in your hand and show it to your dog. Close your fist around the treat in front of your pup, when they try to get to the treat, ignore the advances and simply say “leave it” until you notice a break in their attention. When they stop trying to get the treat, say “good” and present the reward. Continue this with the treat in your hand until the command has been learned. The next step to this command is to place a treat on the ground and cover it with your hand. Again, tell the dog to “leave it” until your pup stops attempting to get at the treat. Then, uncover your hand and say “okay go.” Continue this until you no longer need to cover the treat to get your dog to listen to your command.



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