How Long does it Take to Train a Dog Simple Commands?
By Jason Wright
October 25, 2022
Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands
Training your dog simple commands is a great starting point in your training and will serve as the foundation for all your interactions moving forward. Being able to take control of your dog in any situation and feel confident that they will obey is the key to a happy and rewarding relationship. To understand how long it will take your dog to learn and master basic commands you need to decide on a methodology and identify what you will be teaching them.
Identify the Commands You Would Like to Teach
You cannot distinguish how long it will take to train your dog without first deciding what you will train them to do. Different trainers and dog owners may advise on a different set of commands however we have outlined what we believe to be the basics below.
Sit: Sit is one of the most used basic commands and a great tool to quickly take control of your dog.
Down: Down would be the next step after sit. It can be used to further take control of your dog and encourage them to calm down if they are in an aroused state.
Stay: Stay is slightly more advanced than sit and down. It can be incredibly useful in a multitude of environments. Perhaps you need your dog to stay at the threshold of the front hall as you open the front door. Mastering the stay command will be an important element of future training.
Leave It: Leave it can help control your dog when approaching a negative situation or if your dog is about to pursue something that it should not.
Recall: Ensuring your dog will come to you when called is extremely important. You should always be in control of your dog. However, if they wander off too far or look like they may enter into a negative situation you should be able to confidently and quickly recall them back.
Choose How You Will Train Your Dog
Now that you have identified the commands you would like to teach you need to pick the words you will use to communicate to your dog and ensure that everyone who will be interacting with him/her is on the same page. If you change any command words and are inconsistent at all, it will most likely prolong the time it takes for your dog to master the basic commands outlined above. Next up, you will need to choose your methodology of training.
A common trend these days is to only practice positive reinforcement while training your dog. We caution that all positive dog training isn’t ideal. Instead, we recommend operant conditioning to achieve the best results and ultimately a happy and obedient pet. Operant conditioning takes a more balanced approach to training and incorporates rewards and humane consequences. Utilizing this approach will allow for faster mastery of the commands you hope to teach your dog.
Length of Training Sessions
Dogs have short attention spans, so it is best to keep training sessions to about 10 – 15 minutes 3 – 5 times a day. That said, every interaction with your dog is an opportunity to train them. Although sessions should be kept short you can, and should, practice as you go about your day. Constantly reinforcing the commands will be key to building a proper foundation.
When you are first starting to train you should limit the distractions during your training sessions. Sessions can be done in a quiet room, then moved to your backyard. When you feel comfortable you should practice your commands in a park. Make sure to train in a multitude of environments to ensure your dog will obey wherever they are.
Rewarding Your Dog
You need to identify the best high-value rewards to use for your dog. Most often small bits of meat. Keep these on hand as often as possible and as stated above, don’t be afraid to practice your commands as you go about your day. As you progress you will be transitioning more to simply praising your dog. In this fashion, you will be able to phase out treats altogether.
How Long Before Your Dog Will Understand and Perform Basic Commands
If you implore proper training methodology, are consistent, use appropriate high-value rewards and praise, your dog should begin to understand the commands within days - potentially the first day of training. They should be performing the basic commands outlined in this article consistently within 7 days. Within 2 weeks of proper training, your dog should have the foundation it needs to start performing more advanced commands. Understand though, that you need to stay consistent and always be reinforcing these basic commands. Just because your dog has learnt the commands and mastered them, doesn’t mean that this knowledge will stick. Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment and so is their training.
The iTK9 Way
On our dog training page, we summarize the different programs we offer and outline the commands and behaviours we teach. In a 2-week period, we offer programs that would teach basic commands as well as address behavioural issues such as excessive barking, jumping on guests, etc. We are more than happy to discuss our methodology and answer any questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are considering training your dog.