How to Train Your Dog: A Guide to Basic Commands

Dog Training Ireland

Training your dog is one of the most rewarding aspects of pet ownership. It not only ensures your dog’s safety but also enhances the bond between you. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to train your dog using basic commands. Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or looking to brush up on your training techniques, these steps will help you achieve a well-behaved and happy dog.

1. Preparation and Positive Reinforcement

Before diving into how to train your dog, it’s essential to prepare properly. Use positive reinforcement as your primary training method. This involves rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or play for performing desired behaviours. Gather some high-value treats, a clicker (if you choose to use clicker training), and find a quiet, distraction-free environment.

2. Teaching ‘Sit’

The ‘Sit’ command is a fundamental part of how to train your dog.

  • Step 1: Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
  • Step 2: Slowly move your hand up, causing your dog to naturally lower their bottom to the ground.
  • Step 3: As soon as they sit, say “Sit” and give them the treat along with plenty of praise.
  • Step 4: Repeat several times daily until your dog reliably sits on command.

3. Teaching ‘Stay’

Next in how to train your dog is the ‘Stay’ command, crucial for their safety.

  • Step 1: Start with your dog in the ‘Sit’ position.
  • Step 2: Open your palm in front of you and say “Stay”.
  • Step 3: Take a step back. If they stay, reward them with a treat and praise.
  • Step 4: Gradually increase the distance and duration before giving the treat.
  • Step 5: Practice regularly, always ending on a positive note.

4. Teaching ‘Come’

The ‘Come’ command is vital for recall and should be a key part of your training routine.

  • Step 1: Attach a lead to your dog’s collar.
  • Step 2: Crouch down and say “Come” while gently pulling the lead.
  • Step 3: When your dog comes to you, reward them with a treat and praise.
  • Step 4: Practice off-lead in a safe, enclosed area once they respond consistently on the lead.

5. Teaching ‘Down’

Another important command in how to train your dog is ‘Down’.

  • Step 1: Hold a treat in your hand and show it to your dog.
  • Step 2: Slowly lower your hand to the floor, encouraging your dog to follow.
  • Step 3: When they lie down, say “Down” and give them the treat along with praise.
  • Step 4: Repeat this daily until they respond reliably.

6. Reinforcement and Consistency

Consistency is crucial in how to train your dog. Make training sessions short but frequent, and always use the same commands and hand signals. Reinforce good behaviour with treats and praise, and avoid punishment, which can lead to fear and confusion.

7. Avoiding Common Mistakes

  • Impatience: Training takes time. Be patient and persistent.
  • Inconsistency: Ensure all family members use the same commands and rewards.
  • Negative Reinforcement: Avoid scolding or punishing your dog during training. Focus on positive reinforcement.

8. Advanced Training

Once your dog masters basic commands, you can progress to more advanced training. Agility exercises, fetching specific items, and performing tricks like rolling over or playing dead can keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated.


Learning how to train your dog with basic commands is an essential part of responsible pet ownership. By using positive reinforcement, maintaining consistency, and practicing patience, you can teach your dog to be well-behaved and responsive. Training not only keeps your dog safe but also strengthens the bond you share. Happy training!


DSPCA provides a range of dog training services, tips, and resources for pet owners in Ireland, ensuring you have access to professional advice and support.