A Guide to Basic Dog Obedience Training

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obedience training dogs

All dogs should be taught the basic four lessons in obedience. My SDWC exercise system (Sit, Down, Wait, Come) is an exercise where the dog can learn all four tricks and perform them one after another. These tricks will enable you to teach more advanced tricks which include these as a starting point.

  • In this video I will take you through a step-by-step process of teaching your dog these four important skills. Just click on the play button below to watch this video

    You will need food that your dog likes, an open area, and no other distractions. It is also important to make training times fun for your dog, so he will enjoy them, making him more interested in what you are teaching him.

    Rewards can vary from food, pats or a through of the toy, but I would recommend food. Something that your dog doesn’t get everyday is the best to use, like cheese, but maybe mix it in with some dry food.


    1. Start by getting your dogs attention by giving him a few treats so he knows you have them. Hold them firm in your hand and lift it above his head out of his reach. This should tilt him backwards in to a sitting position.
    2. Command ‘Sit’ and reward. If he doesn’t sit, gently push on his back until he does, then command ‘Sit’ and reward.
    3. Repeat until he can do this without the hand movement and when he is not sitting in front of you. For example, use this command when visitors are nearby and practice this trick where there is distractions.


    For this trick, you can either use the command ‘Drop’ or ‘Down’. If you plan to teach your dog to ‘Bow’ then it is best to use the command ‘Drop’ otherwise he may get confused.

    1. With your dog sitting, or standing in front of you, hold the treats firm in your hand and lower it to the ground and towards you, so he has to move down and forward. This should force him to go into a ’Down’ position to get the treats from your hands.
    2. From a sitting position, he should go into a down, but in a standing position he might go into a ‘Bow’ position. Don’t reward him until he is in a proper down position.
    3. You may have to push gently on his back to encourage him to do so. If you reward him for only going half way, he will often ’Cheat’ to get a reward. Command ‘Drop’ or ‘Down’ and reward when he is in a proper ‘Down’ position.

    Practice this and he will soon get it. Teach him to go into a ‘Down’ position both sitting and standing, and practice this trick in a place that may have distractions.


    ‘Wait’ is a very important part of obedience. Getting your dog to wait allows you to have a bit of peace when wanting to sit alone, or when hanging the washing out. He will sit or lay down somewhere, and won’t move until you release him.

    1. Sit or lay your dog down in front of you and fold the food in view but not so he can get to it. Command ‘Wait’ and make your dog be still for only a few seconds, and then reward.
    2. You can also use a hand signal. Hold you hand up in a way that you would signify ‘Stop’.
    3. Repeat several times so that he understands what you want him to do. Once this is successful, walk a few steps backwards once you have commanded ‘Wait’. This may take longer to teach than other tricks, but it is very important to teach.

    Progress this trick so your dog will wait anywhere, any distance and you dog will be one of the most obedient dogs on the block.


    ‘Come’ is a very easy trick to teach your dog.

    1. Show your dog you have food and throw a piece a few metres in front of you so your dog has to go get it. Once he has found it, call his name and he should come back to you, wanting more food. Reward and repeat.
    2. This time, command your dog to ‘Wait’ and then take a few steps backwards and call his name. If he doesn’t come, try again or click your fingers. Reward and Repeat.
    3. The next time you do this, add in the command ‘Come’ after calling his name. Practice as much as you can, even out in the yard. Command ‘Come’ randomly when playing, but always reward once he has come to you. Always make it rewarding for your dog to come to you so that he will always come when he’s called, knowing that it is fun or rewarding.

    Use this command when out on walks aswell, because it will teach him that he has to come to you where ever you are and whenever he is called.


    Once your dog knows the basic obedience tricks, you can try the SDWC exercise. First command your dog to ‘Sit’, then to lay ‘Down’ or ‘Drop’. Command ‘Wait and take a few steps backwards, and then ‘Come’ after a few seconds. After he has come to you, reward him and repeat.

    Dogs love to make their masters happy, so they are always looking for things to do to please them. That is why SDWC is a good exercise to do with your dog, because if he does it right and you praise him, he will enjoy training more.

    You may have to reward after every command at first, but aim to do five rounds of SDWC before rewarding him.

    All the best with your training,

    Rachel and the Dogs

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