Commands Every Dog Should Know
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Training your dog to understand this list of simple commands will produce a better-behaved pooch. Proper training results in a better relationship between dog and owner. It also provides your dog with the security of knowing his place in the order of things and what is expected of him. Dogs crave structure, discipline, and mental stimulation. Regular work with these commands goes a long way toward fulfilling your dog’s mental and emotional needs.
No is a command your dog will probably hear early and often. No is the command that makes your dog stop whatever he’s doing and look to you for direction. Make sure this command is respected, or it will be useless. If you’re sitting on the couch, and your dog is scratching at the carpet, so you say “no,” but he continues to scratch and you can’t be bothered to get up and stop him, the command becomes meaningless. Be prepared to follow your no command with correction.
Sit is an absolutely vital part of the training process. It is useful around the house, on walks, and as an initial step in shaping more complex behaviors.
Stay is another command that will come in handy when shaping more complex behaviors like the Down Stay and Place. Stay commands your dog to hold where he is no matter what and no matter where you are. You’ll know your dog is really getting the drift of the stay command when he’ll hold a Stay even when you leave the room.
Wait is similar to Stay and mostly differs in purpose. Put very simply, the stay command tells your dog “You hang out here, this is where I want you to be. When I’m ready, I’ll let you know you can get up.” On the other hand, Wait is a way of saying “hold on, don’t move, and keep your attention on me. I’m either going to release you with an OK, or give you another command.”
Down is another building block behavior. Once your dog can lay down, you can teach him to crawl, roll over, play dead and more. Remember, these “tricks” aren’t about making your dog a circus performer—this kind of training is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog and provides much needed mental stimulation.
Off is an important safety command, and a way to assert your dominance. If your dog is jumping up, especially on an elderly person, or a child, you want him to immediately respond to the off command before anyone gets hurt. Off is also useful when your dog jumps into bed or onto other furniture uninvited. Respect for your off command is a part of his respect for you as pack leader. Be careful not to confuse the use of Off and Down. Many novice trainers will teach their dog that down means “lay down” and then shove their dog off the couch saying “down” when they mean “get down,” the command for which is “off.” Make sure your commands are always consistent.
Come, a recall command, is one that might just save your dog’s life. This is probably the most important command your dog will ever learn, and the one the majority of people have a problem with. The only way to get your dog to consistently come when called is to enforce the command EVERY TIME. If you don’t make your dog come every time you command him to, he will feel that it is up to him when he comes and when he doesn’t. Learn more about teaching a recall command for a better behaved dog.
Heel is a vital command for proper walking etiquette, and therefore, proper enforcement of pack status. If your dog pulls you along on a walk, he is both literally and figuratively the leader. When a dog walks at your side, he is acknowledging that you are in the lead and therefore in control.
Stand commands your dog to hold still on all-fours. This is helpful for trips to the groomer, vet visits, home brushing, tick removal, at home once-overs to make sure your dog is in good health, and scores of other situations as well.
Ok is a release command. It means that your dog can stop what he’s been commanded to do, like stay, or wait, and go about what he wants to do. Release commands tell your dog it’s ok to eat, go through doorways, and go play.
Another important safety and discipline command, Leave It tells your dog to get away from whatever has his interest at that moment. Use Leave It to keep your dog from stealing food off the table, stop bothering guests, and stop fixating on the dog next door. Whenever your dog turns his attention from the undesirable behavior to you, be sure to shower him with praise.
Use Drop It to get your dog to put down things he finds or food he’s stolen if you didn’t deliver a “leave it!” fast enough. Drop It is also necessary to properly teach your dog games like fetch, and tug-o-war.