Golden Retriever

Training the Golden Retriever Puppy

Sit, Down, Come, Stay and Heel


Teaching the five basic commands are where we all begin with our Golden Retriever puppies -- and we try to remember that puppies will always be puppies. They will always have that inquisitive nature to investigate and to learn. If not taught properly, they can become confused and frustrated very easily. So let’s begin with our basics:


SIT: You may have noticed that dogs have a relatively inflexible spine meaning that if he tips his head up far enough he will sit. You can use this to your advantage when teaching your dog to sit in response to a spoken command.


  •  With your dog facing you, hold a food treat between your fingers and thumb and with your palm face up in front of his nose. Move the reward up and slightly back over your dogs head. Say “sit” once as you do this. Notice that as your dog follows the treat with his eyes and head, he will sit down. Praise him, saying “good sit”, and give the food reward.


Golden Retriever



DOWN: Use food to help guide your dog into position when you want to teach him to lie down. You can try pushing the treat between his front legs to get in position. As he tries to follow the treat, his back end will slide into a down position.

  • Place your dog in a sit. Hold a food treat in front of him and say “down” – quickly bring the food down to the ground so his head follows. If your dog needs help, gently guide its shoulders downward. When your dog is lying down, praise him and give him the treat. Once your dog associates the word “down” with the action you can be less reliable with the food treats but do keep praising him each time.


COME: Teaching your pet to come is an extremely important and often difficult task. Never call your dog to you to punish him. Take care not to call him away from something fun. Practice calling your dog and when it comes, praise him and send him back to play.

  • Stand close to your pet with a food reward in your hand. Back up a short distance, wiggle the treat and say “come”. As your dog approaches, say “good come” and give him a treat when he gets to you.

STAY: Teaching your dog to stay on command may avoid a disaster, especially if you live in a busy area. Aim for small successes, not long stays. At first, reward a stay of five seconds, gradually increasing the duration of the stay.

  • With your pet in a sit position, place your hand, palm open, in front of his face. Slowly walk backward from your dog, all the while making eye contact and telling him to “stay”. If your puppy does not move for five seconds, go back and reward him with food and praise.

HEEL: Be prepared to spend a lot of time on this one, and it works better outdoors. This will be an extension of the “watch me” command. Repeat this command several times but add the command “heel”. At first move only short distances but gradually move further and for longer periods as your dog learns to stay with you.

  • With your dog on a leash at your left side, hold the leash with your right hand so that it crosses your body. Keep your right hand at your waist. As you start walking, say your dog’s name and “heel”. If necessary, hold on the leash with your left hand until the dog is beside you, then release. If your dog starts to pull or lag, turn in the opposite direction. Do not worry if you collide. It will soon realize it should be watching you. When your dog is walking nicely by your side, praise him verbally saying “good heel”. You can also reach down and pet him.

 I can’t say enough for the change in your life and the comfort of your pet’s life when you have finished these five basic commands. Golden Retrievers love to learn, but more than that, they love to please. Make this a fun adventure for both of you… and never let good behavior go unnoticed.


Esther Smith, author

Smith has basic-trained her own pets and can attest to the fact that some pets learn faster than others – but the Goldens are always quick learners.


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