New Year, New Tricks: Top 5 Essential Commands for Your Canine

As the confetti settles and we step paw-first into the new year, it’s time to turn our attention to our canine companions. January isn’t just the start of fresh beginnings and new resolutions, it’s also Train Your Dog Month! So, pack away your party hats, grab your treats, and let’s go!  

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Here are the top 5 essential commands every dog should know.


Sit – The “Sit” command is fundamental, as basic as learning your ABCs! A dog who knows how to sit on command is easier to manage and less likely to misbehave. To teach this, hold a treat close to your dog’s nose and then move your hand up, allowing their head to follow the treat causing their bottom to lower. Once they’re in the sitting position, say “Sit,” give them the treat and share affection. 


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Stay – For the safety of your pup and your peace of mind, “Stay” is an essential command. It’s the canine version of a red traffic light, teaching them to pause and wait. This command could be a lifesaver in dangerous situations. Start by asking your dog to “Sit.” Then, open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.” Take a few steps back. If they stay, give them a treat. Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat. 


Come – This command is crucial, especially during outdoor adventures. If your dog decides to chase after a squirrel or sniff a far-off tree, a well-timed “Come” will ensure they return to you promptly. To teach this, put a leash and collar on your dog. Go down to their level and say, “Come,” while gently pulling on the leash. When they get to you, reward them with affection and a treat. 


image: freepik


Leave it/Drop it – This command is useful when your dog picks up something they shouldn’t. From your favorite pair of socks to potentially harmful items, “Leave it” or “Drop it” can save the day (and your footwear!). To teach this, place a treat in both hands. Show them one enclosed fist with the treat inside and say, “Leave it.” Ignore the behaviors they throw at you to get the treat, and once they stop trying, give them the treat from the other hand. 


Lie Down – This command is perfect for those hyperactive moments when your dog needs to calm down. It’s like the “chill pill” of dog commands, helping to reduce their energy levels and keep them relaxed. To train your pup, find a particularly good-smelling treat, and hold it in your closed fist. Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When they sniff it, move your hand to the floor, so they follow. Then slide your hand along the ground in front of them to encourage their body to follow their head. 


image: freepik


And there you have it! The top 5 essential commands to teach your dog this Train Your Dog Month. Remember, patience and consistency are key in training. And of course, don’t forget to reward your canine companion with plenty of praise and treats for their hard work. After all, who can resist those puppy eyes? 


Here’s to a year filled with well-mannered “sits” and wagging tails. Happy training from all of us at Young-Williams Animal Center! 

About the Author:
Wyatt Baggett is the Marketing Associate at Young-Williams Animal Center. With over five years of experience working with shelter pets and a passion for animal welfare, he enjoys creating informative content for pet parents. When he’s not working, Wyatt enjoys hanging out with his three rescue dogs, thrifting, and hunting down the best eats around Knoxville.