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Top 13 Challenges You May Face While Teaching Your Dog To Follow Basic Commands!

At A Glance

When teaching your dog to follow basic commands, you may encounter quite a few challenges. Knowing what they are will help you tackle them better.

  • Your dog may not pay enough attention, not understand commands, be distracted, scared, or overly excited.
  • Your training sessions may be too long or too short, you may get impatient, you may have started the training late, or there may be an issue of conflicting commands.

Last Updated on: May 18, 2023

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Dogs can be wonderful companions, but they don’t always understand what we want from them. Basic commands to teach a dog include “sit”, “stay”, and “come”. This helps ensure their safety and your peace of mind.

However, this process can be challenging even for experienced pet owners. After all, every dog is different, and what works for one might not work for another.

Many obstacles can hinder successful training, like your dog not understanding the commands or getting distracted.

That’s why, to help you, we will discuss the top thirteen challenges you may face while teaching your dog basic commands and provide tips to overcome them.

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Lack Of Attention

One of the most common challenges you may face while teaching your dog to follow basic commands is getting their attention. Dogs can get easily distracted by their surroundings, other animals, or even their own thoughts.

This can make it difficult for them to focus on the task at hand. One way to combat this is to make sure you have your dog’s attention before giving a command. Try using your dog’s name or a treat to get their attention.

You can also consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer or enrolling them in a training program like the Allbreeds K9 Bootcamp & Pet Retreat, where they can learn to focus and follow commands in a controlled environment.

Not Understanding the Command

Another challenge you may encounter is your dog not understanding what you ask them to do. After all, they don’t speak our language, so teaching them what each command means will take time and patience.

To help your dog understand, start by using consistent hand signals or verbal cues when giving commands. You can also break down commands into smaller steps, so your dog can learn each part before putting it all together.

Additionally, using positive reinforcement, such as giving your dog training treats or praise, can help them associate the command with a positive outcome and increase their motivation to learn.

Conflicting Commands

Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on consistency. So, if you or any other member is giving your dog different commands for the same behavior, they will ultimately become confused or unsure of what to do.

For example, if you say “come” one day and “here” the next, your dog may not understand that both commands mean the same thing.

To avoid this issue, it’s important to establish clear and consistent commands for your dog.

Make sure everyone in your household uses the same commands and techniques when training your dog. This will help your dog understand what you are asking them to do and prevent confusion.

Otherwise, your pet will have difficulty dealing with this confusion. So you must ensure everyone is on the same page.

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Not Enough Repetition

Even if the basic commands to teach a dog seem simple, repetition is the key. After all, your dog must hear and practice the command multiple times before it can master it.

This is not something that they will learn with just one-time practice.

In other words, if you only practice a command a few times and then move on to something else, your dog may quickly forget what it learned.

So, make sure to practice each command multiple times a day until your dog responds consistently. This may take several training sessions, but staying patient and persistent is important.

Eventually, with enough practice, your dog will start to understand and follow the command independently. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Training Sessions are Too Long

While practicing commands regularly is important, keeping training sessions short and sweet is also important.

Dogs have short attention spans, and they can get easily bored or frustrated with extended training sessions. This can make it more difficult for them to learn and retain the commands you are trying to teach.

To avoid this, try keeping your training sessions short and frequent, ideally around 10 to 15 minutes each. This will help your dog stay focused and engaged, making training more effective and enjoyable for you and your beloved puppy.


Teaching your dog to follow basic commands can take a lot of time and patience. Some commands may take longer to learn than others, and your dog may make several mistakes along the way.

However, it’s important to remain patient and not get frustrated or angry with your dog. Yelling or punishing your dog can cause it to become fearful and hesitant to learn, resulting in a negative outcome!

Use positive reinforcement and reward good behavior with treats, toys, or praise. This will greatly help your dog associate training with positive experiences and increase their motivation to learn and follow commands.

After all, who doesn’t like some treats and appreciation? The same goes for your pet companion as well!

dog pulling its leash

Fear Or Anxiety

Fear or anxiety is one of the biggest challenges you may face when teaching your dog to follow basic commands. Dogs can become fearful or anxious for various reasons, including experiences, genetics, or lack of socialization.

When a dog is fearful or anxious, they may be too overwhelmed to learn and follow commands. They may become withdrawn, defensive, or even aggressive.

As a pet owner, it’s important to recognize these potential signs of fear or anxiety in your dog and address the root cause of the issue before attempting to train them. This might involve seeking the help of a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to help them overcome their fear or anxiety.

Overuse of Punishment

Another challenge you may face when training your dog is overusing punishment. Punishment can come in many forms, including physical correction, verbal reprimands, or withholding rewards.

While punishment might seem like an effective way to teach your dog, it can actually have negative consequences. Overuse of punishment can lead to fear, anxiety, or aggression in your dog and might even damage the beautiful bond between you and your pet.

So, instead of punishing, try using positive reinforcement to train your dog. This involves rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, or playtime and ignoring or redirecting bad behavior.

Believe it or not, positive reinforcement is a much more effective and humane way to train your dog, along with helping to build a stronger relationship between you and your pet.

Unfamiliar Environment

Dogs can be sensitive to changes in their environment, making it difficult for them to focus on training.

If you are trying to teach your dog a new command in an unfamiliar environment, it may be difficult for them to focus on what you are trying to teach them. New smells, sounds, or sights may distract them, or they may get anxious or scared.

To help your dog adjust to new environments, start training in a quiet, familiar place and gradually increase the level of distraction over time.

Give them plenty of time to sniff around and explore, and be patient if they seem nervous or anxious. This will help your dog build their focus and confidence, making it easier to follow commands in any environment.

Not Starting Early Enough

Dogs are most receptive to learning new commands between the ages of 7 weeks and 6 months. So, if you wait too long to start training your dog, it may be harder to break the bad habits they have already developed, eventually taking them longer to learn and follow commands.

So, to give your dog the best chance of success, start training them as early as possible. This will help them develop good habits and behaviors early on, making training easier and more effective in the long run.

However, it’s never too late to start training your dog. Even older dogs can learn new commands with patience and consistency.

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Too Many Distractions

Teaching your furry friend new commands can be a bit challenging, especially when there are so many distractions around.

You might be trying to teach your dog to “sit” or “stay”, but suddenly, a squirrel or a bird catches their attention, and they run after it, forgetting all about your commands.

Even indoor distractions like TV, phone calls, or loud music can make it difficult for your pup to focus on the task at hand.

So, what can you do? Try to find a quiet and distraction-free place to train your dog. It could be a room in your house or a secluded spot in your backyard. Also, make sure your dog is well-rested and has had a chance to exercise before training.

A tired dog is more likely to focus on training and less likely to be distracted. Finally, use treats and positive reinforcement to motivate and engage your pup during training sessions.

Lack Of Time

Another challenge you may face when teaching your dog basic commands is a lack of time. Between work, family, and other obligations, it can be hard to find time to devote to training.

The key here is to make training a part of your daily routine. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference. Set aside time each day, ideally at the same time, to work on commands with your dog. You could do it before or after meals or during your daily walk.

Also, remember that training your dog is an ongoing process. You don’t have to teach all the commands at once. Take it one step at a time, and be patient. Your dog will learn at its own pace, and you’ll both have fun.

And if you are really struggling to find time, consider hiring a professional dog trainer to help you out. They can work with your schedule and help you get the results you are looking for.

Overly Excited

Dogs love to be active and playful, but sometimes, their enthusiasm can hinder training. You might find that your pup is too excited to focus on your commands, especially when you are trying to teach them something new.

To overcome this challenge, it’s important to establish a calm and focused training environment. Start by using a leash to keep your dog close to you and prevent them from running off. Then, use a calm and reassuring voice to get their attention and keep them focused on you.

Finally, try to limit playtime before and during training sessions so your dog isn’t too wound up.

Teaching your dog basic commands can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. However, it can be equally challenging as well.

By identifying and overcoming the top thirteen challenges mentioned above, you can now teach your dog new commands effectively.

Just remember to be patient and persistent, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you are struggling. With time and effort, you and your dog can achieve great things together!



I am a full-time mum of two kids and a beautiful golden retriever. Writing is my passion: from food journalism to pets, parenting tips, etc. I can write on just about everything under the sun. I have been writing for the past 7 years and during that time, I have been a regular contributor to several blogs and pet magazines. I have also written feature articles, POV pieces, and dabbled in a few different formats of writing over the years.