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4 Basic Dog Training Behaviors and Cues Every Dog Should Know

4 Basic Dog Training Behaviors and Cues Every Dog Should Know

Teaching your dog a wide variety of behaviors and cues throughout their life is an enjoyable way for you to continue to bond over time. But no matter where your training journey takes you, you must first build a solid foundation of the basics.

Four training behaviors and cues to teach your dog

The following four behaviors and cues are an ideal place to start your dog's training. Once your puppy or dog has mastered them, you can feel more confident in their safety, attentiveness and readiness to advance in training.

1. How to sit


Sitting on cue is the hallmark of a polite, well-mannered pup. This cue is especially useful when greeting guests because you’ll know you have the ability to get your dog’s attention and keep them from jumping up on visitors as they enter.

Teaching a dog to sit:

  1. Face your dog.
  2. Pinch a dog treat between your upturned thumb and index finger and present it to your dog, about an inch or so in front of their nose.
  3. Slowly slide your hand toward the top of your dog’s head, luring them to follow the treat.
  4. Your dog will likely try to keep your hand in sight by lowering their bottom to the floor as they raise their head.
  5. As soon as your pup’s rear hits the floor, verbally praise them heartily and give them the treat.
  6. Repeat.When your dog readily offers the behavior, start saying “sit” before you lure them and “yes,” accompanied with a treat, as soon as they sit.

More tips on how to teach your dog to sit.

2. How to lie down


This is an important cue to have at your disposal when you need your dog to settle. It helps you better manage them and their next actions and is a good follow-up to sit.

Teaching a dog to lie down:

  1. Ask your dog to sit and hold a treat between your thumb and forefinger with your palm facing down.
  2. Hold the treat directly in front of your dog’s nose and slowly lower it between their front paws, luring their nose and head toward the ground.
  3. If needed, drag the treat slowly along the ground toward you/away from your dog. Your dog should follow the treat with their nose until they are lying down on their belly.
  4. As soon as their elbows hit the ground, say “yes” and give them the treat, along with lots of verbal praise.
  5. Repeat. When your dog readily offers the behavior when following your hand, say “down” then “yes,” accompanied with a treat, as soon as your dog lies down.

More tips on how to teach your dog to lie down.

3. How to stay


Being able to stay in a position when cued can help your dog avoid potentially hazardous situations. It’s also useful when you need them to settle in place.

Teaching a dog stay:

  1. Cue your dog to sit or lie down.
  2. Hold up one hand with your palm facing your dog. Hold a dog treat in your opposite hand.
  3. Treat your dog when they remain in the cued position.
  4. Stand very close to your  dog. Remain still and offer very little distraction.
  5. Praise the dog while in stay.
  6. Release your dog from stay using a word like “release” or “thank you,” then take a step back.
  7. Ask them again to remain in a sit or stay position. Repeat this several times, adding the word “stay” and gradually  increasing distance, time and distractions as your dog progresses

4. How to come


Teaching your dog to come is arguably the most critical cue your dog should know. Also known as recall, “come” tells your dog to return to you. If your dog were to slip out of their collar or harness near a busy street or begin to enter a potentially dangerous location, knowing this basic training cue could be a lifesaver.

Teaching a dog to come:

  1. Have a partner hold your dog on a long training leash while you get a treat ready.
  2. Use the treat as a magnet. Hold it close to your dog’s nose, turn and quickly walk away from your dog.
  3. Excitedly call your dog using a rapidly repeating noise like “pup pup,” a clap, whistle, smooch or click.
  4. When your dog follows you, say “yes” and urge them on with “good puppy/boy/ girl!”
  5. Stop and crouch when  your dog arrives and praise and reward them with the treat.
  6. Repeat this exercise several times.When  your dog is following you on a consistent basis, begin saying “come” before you call them and gradually increase the distance between you and your dog


Knowing your dog is set up with the right basic training cues will give you peace of mind in new situations. For more tips on training, visit our YouTube channel.