How to Teach a Puppy to Sit, Stay, & Come
“Sit. Stay. Come.” “I love you.” “We can do it!” When I think of how to teach a puppy to sit (or other basic obedience commands, for that matter) these three phrases are my mantras. In fact, they are the keys to unlocking a lifetime of love between you and your puppy! You may be thinking that’s a pretty hefty statement. Let me explain.
“Sit. Stay. Come.” By teaching your puppy to sit, stay, and come, you are setting up a common language with your new puppy. You’re establishing a love language between you and your furry pal. Even if you plan on enrolling your puppy in professional training classes, basic commands are worth teaching right away. You could say that teaching the fundamentals helps you and your puppy start off on the “right paw! ”
“We can do it” Rosie the Riveter got it right. When it comes to teaching basic commands, we can do it! With a little know-how and positivity, we can teach basic obedience training like sit. And there is no time like the present. Puppies are so smart and ready to learn!
“I love you.” These are the three most important words in life, including life with you and your new puppy. By teaching dog training fundamentals with love, love, and more love, you and your puppy will share a bond like no other.
Ready to teach your puppy to sit, stay, and come with love and positivity? We can do this! In this article, you’ll find basic principles and easy step-by-step solutions to teaching your dog to sit, stay, and come.
Let’s get started building a loving relationship with your new bestie. Please watch the video to see the commands in action and read on for tips and tricks.
The benefits of training your puppy basic commands like sit and stay
To explain the benefits of teaching basic commands, I’d like to give you a peek into the comedy and chaos that’s ensued at our home since Little Bear, a Labrador Retriever puppy, has been visiting Chloe, our 6-year-old Goldendoodle dog, almost daily. (Yes, I’m puppy sitting! For tips on introducing a puppy into your home with a dog, please read my article, Introducing a New Puppy to the Pack.) The basic training commands of “sit,” “stay,” and “come” have helped me manage the circus that comes along with two loveable, energetic dogs romping around the house.
Sit. A dog’s equivalent of “please and thank you”
“Sit” is comparable to teaching our human kiddos to say “please and thank you.” I use the sit command before the dogs burst out of the door to play in the backyard. I use it to teach control, patience, and polite behavior before putting Little Bear’s food bowl of kibble on the floor. Likewise, the stay command has been a lifesaver when doing something as simple as refilling dog water bowls with energetic dogs waiting.
Basic principles of puppy training
- Keep the training sessions brief and take it a step at a time. A puppy’s attention span is short. By ending the training before your puppy gets tired or loses interest, you’re ending on a positive note.
- Choose a location in your home that has relatively few distractions. Our living room was a good place to teach Little Bear. Plus, it is close to the door for those urgent potty breaks. (If you have to train outdoors, make sure that you’re in an enclosed space so your puppy won’t run off.)
- Reward your puppy with plenty of positive praise—verbal praise spoken in a happy voice, loving head scratches, and high-value treats. (High-value treats are a treat that your dog likes. In Little Bear’s case, his high-value treat is a piece of kibble. Yes, his own puppy food is a happy reward for him. If you’re not sure what training treats to use, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet.) Also, I’m sure that I’m speaking to the choir, but always give heaping amounts of verbal praise and never use any sort of punishment. Keep it happy, fun, and pawsitive!
- Give lots of love. You and your dog are bonding and make a great team!
Step one: How to teach your puppy to sit
While there are different methods of teaching a puppy to sit, I’m explaining the lure method. (Another method is to “catch ’em in the action.”) Basically, “lure” is exactly what it sounds like—the treat entices and guides your puppy to accomplish the action.
- Get down on your puppy’s level and hold a treat in your fingers just out and above your puppy’s nose.
- Move the treat up over your puppy’s head and back slightly toward your dog’s rump.
- The movement will naturally cause your dog to lean back to follow the treat.
- As soon as your dog’s bottom touches the ground, say a reinforcing or marker word and name the command. (For example, I say “Good, sit!”) Use a happy, excited voice and reward with a treat and more praise.
- Continue the fun.
Once your puppy gets the idea, you can transition into a hand signal in place of holding the treat in your fingers. Using a signal that looks similar to holding the treat in your fingers will offer consistency for your puppy. The hand signal I used is a closed hand that I switch or flip from knuckles up to knuckles down.
Step two: How to teach your puppy to stay
Once Little Bear learned to sit, I added the stay command. This was simply a matter of lengthening the amount of time between his rump touching the ground and giving the reward. While the stay command can include stay with distractions, stay from a distance, stay for a long period of time, or other situations, for this article, I’m focusing on the basic stay command.
- Ask your puppy to sit using the steps outlined above, including giving a reward. This starts the training off on a positive note.
- Now, ask your puppy to sit again. As soon as your puppy sits, use a new hand signal (I used a closed hand with knuckles now pointing up to the sky, palm toward the puppy. A palm up, like a police officer gives when directing traffic, is another alternative.).
- When your puppy’s rump is on the ground for even the shortest amount of time, say “Good, stay!” (or your own form of a reinforcing word and the name of the command) in a bright, happy voice and give a treat.
- Now increase the length of time in minuscule increments. And by minuscule I mean even one second. Puppies have so much energy, a second is a long time!
- After the sit, give the visual cue, wait for a second, and reward with the verbal cue and a treat.
- As your puppy learns to master this command, you can ask for a sit and then say “stay” and then give the “good, stay” positive praise along with a treat. Once Bear sat, I changed my visual cue from the sit cue to the stay cue.
It did not take long for Little Bear to master the stay command. Gradually, I lengthened the amount of time he stayed in place from just a couple of seconds to 30 seconds or more.
If your puppy is having trouble with stay, revert back to a shorter amount of time, or even go back to the sit command. This all takes time and patience! Remember, you and your puppy speak different languages and your puppy is learning to read you, probably even more so than you’re learning to read your puppy.
Step three: How to teach your puppy to come
There’s no time like the present to teach your puppy the come command. Not only is it fun to see your little pal running to you, but it’s also a good safety measure. If your dog is ever in an unsafe situation, just by saying “come” to your dog, you may keep your furry friend out of harm’s way.
For Little Bear, “come” was the easiest command to teach because he naturally wanted to come—for both the affection and the treat. Any time Little Bear was a short distance from me, I said “Come!” in a bright, energetic happy voice and rewarded him with verbal praise, belly rubs, and a treat.
Again, I’m sure I’m speaking to the choir, but never say “come” with an angry tone of voice or get upset with your dog for not coming. I know I would not want to come running if someone was hollering at me or using a grouchy tone of voice.
Use a fun game to practice the “come” command
A fun indoor activity that will help you reinforce the come command is playing a version of the game Red Rover with your puppy and one other person. With your puppy beside you, the other person (who is not too far away), says “Come!” and the puppy’s name. When your puppy comes, your partner gives praise and says, “Good, come!” Then it’s your turn to say “come.” Your puppy gets to scamper between the two of you and gets lots of love and praise…and practice!
Incorporating basic puppy commands into everyday life…
I think it’s helpful to share how these dog training fundamentals can be used during daily tasks—when you’re doing real-life stuff—and not only during practice times.
For example, now Little Bear and Chloe both sit and stay while I empty the dishwasher…
(BTW, it’s a fun challenge to see if I can quickly unload the dishes before the pups lose attention. They’re very attentive pups!)
They both sit politely while I have my cup of coffee…
At the beginning of this article, I shared three sets of short phrases that I believe are the keys to building a great relationship with your puppy. Let me add one more:
Let’s have fun!
Remember, as you teach your puppy basic fundamentals like “sit,” “stay,” or “come,” have fun! Enjoy every moment with your sweet puppy! Connect with your furry pal in happy ways and embrace a positive, loving relationship like you never imagined. You and your puppy make a great team.
What tips do you have for training your puppy to sit, stay, or come?
Please comment below!