25 Essential Commands You Can Teach Your Dog

by Bella
dog obedience commands

Commands make life with your pooch so much easier by setting some order and keeping you in control of every situation. They’re a big part of every dog training routine.

In this article, we’ve gathered some of the most common commands Fido should be familiar with if you’re looking to build a blissful relationship with him.

Watch me

dog obedience commands: watch me

Training your dog in general will require that he has both his eyes and undivided attention on you. This command will help establish this. It’ll also help you in gaining control of your dog in situations when he shouldn’t be running off on his own.

To start, bring a treat close to your dog’s nose and slowly move it towards your face. When it’s close enough, stop and say “watch me” or “look”. Give your dog the treat.

Source: Chewy, Title of video: How to Teach Your Dog “Watch Me” | Chewy, Date video posted: May 12, 2017
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Watch Me” Command
1. Bring a treat close to your dog’s nose
2. Slowly move it away toward your face.
3. Say “watch me” when the treat is close. Give your dog the treat.

Sit

dog obedience commands: sit

The “Sit” command helps to keep your dog in check in situations he has no business being upbeat. It also reinforces good behavior during meal times if you don’t want your canine buddy to be jumping all over the place at the sight of a bowl.

To teach your dog the command, hold a treat above his nose but not too high to prompt him to jump. Slowly move the treat behind until your dog sits. Immediately give him the treat.

Keep repeating the process with the word “sit” each time you hold a treat above his head. With time, you can stop moving the treat behind his head and just give him the treat when he sits.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How to Teach your Puppy to Sit and Stay, Date video posted: Jul 19, 2017
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Sit” Command
1. Hold a treat above your dog’s nose.
2. Make him sit by slowly moving the treat behind his head.
3. Say “sit” and give him the treat.

Come

dog obedience commands: come

Rest assured – you’re going to call your dog a lot. So the “come” command is something he should explicitly understand.

To train him, you’ll need a leash and of course some treats.

Go out in the open and allow your dog to get as far as the length of the leash allows him. Say “come” in a loud and clear voice – sometimes severally – and lightly pull on the leash.

Give him a treat when he comes back.
Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: Come when Called: The FASTEST Way to Teach YOUR DOG to COME WHEN CALLED ANYWHERE!, Date video posted: Feb 6, 2014
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Come” Command
1. Take your dog out on a leash
2. Pull the leash lightly and say “come”
3. Give him a treat

Emergency Recall

Emergency Recall

Emergency recall is a substitute for “come” when Fido is rushing right into a harmful situation – a busy street, for instance. You don’t want your dog having second thoughts about coming to you in such a situation.

First, you need to get your dog used to the emergency cue. This will involve mentioning the command when he’s close and giving him treats for 20-30s seconds straight. This big reward makes it clear to your dog that he needs to be where you want him when you call him out.

When he’s learned to associate the cue with 30-second treats, you can try adding distance starting with just a few paces to several feet and finally to different surroundings.

The emergency recall cue must be a word you rarely use..
Source: Fenrir Canine Training, Title of video: How To Teach PERFECT Recall! Stop Your Dog Ignoring You Off Leash!, Date video posted: Feb 21, 2020
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Emergency Recall” Command
1. Say your emergency recall cue when your dog is close
2. Give him treats for 20-30 seconds straight. This gets him used to the command
3. Vary the surroundings, giving your dog the treats for the above duration every time he comes back to you running.

Down

Down

The “down” command is pretty much like “sit” since it helps keep your furry guy calm when it’s ideal.

To teach your dog this command, grab some strong-smelling treat and show it to your dog to get his attention. You don’t want him to have it just yet. Move the treat slowly towards the ground, making sure your dog follows along.

When he goes down, say “down” and give him the treat – over and over until he gets it.

Source: Dog Training by K9-1.com, Title of video: How to Train a dog to Lie “Down” (K9-1.com), Date video posted: Dec 24, 2013
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Down” Command
1. Show him a strong-smelling treat. Don’t let him have it
2. Slowly move the treat to the ground as your dog follows along.
3. Say “down” when he settles on his belly and give him the treat.

Stay

dog obedience commands: Stay

This is another command that’ll keep your dog calm when his excitement is a bit undesirable. For this command, it’ll help if your dog is already familiar with the down or sit positions.

Get him into either of the two and tell him “stay”. Slowly take a few steps from him to see if he maintains that position. If he does, give him some treats and rubs.

If he doesn’t, say “no” and back away once more. Of course – no treats here.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How to Teach your Puppy to Sit and Stay, Date video posted: Jul 19, 2017
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Stay” Command
1. Get your dog into either the down or sit position and tell him “stay”.
2. Take a few steps back as you keep your eyes on him.
3. Give him a treat if he doesn’t try to follow you. 4. If he doesn’t stay, say a firm “no” and start over.
4. If he doesn’t stay, say a firm “no” and start over.

Bed

dog obedience commands: bed

The “bed” command gets your dog somewhere he can relax which is especially important if you’re trying to get stuff done.

Start off by leading your dog to bed or somewhere comfortable using a leash. Get him on the bed by placing a treat on it and following this up by saying “bed”. It’ll be great to add on “down” and “stay” as you back away slowly. If he doesn’t follow you, return and give a treat with some praise.

Keep doing this until you eliminate the leash and eventually the treat.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How To Teach Your Dog To Go To Their Bed When Asked, Date video posted: Jul 28, 2018
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Bed” Command
1. Lead your dog to his bed or anywhere he can comfortably relax.
2.Lure him onto the bed by placing a treat on it and saying “bed”.
3. Give the “down” and “stay” commands when he gets onto the bed. Take a few paces back.
4. If he doesn’t follow you, return and give him a treat.

Wait

dog obedience commands: wait

“Wait” specifically prevents your dog from lunging or bolting out of the door or crate.  Naturally, you’ll need a door here – either the house or crate.

If you’re in the house, walk your dog towards the door and command your dog to sit. Make sure the door is closed. Raise your hand in a stop sign and say “wait” and slowly open the door.

If he tries to go for the door, close it quickly before he reaches it. Do this every time he runs for the day when you open it.

Every time your dog delays when you give the “wait” command, reward him as you gradually increase the time he has to wait for the release command.

Source: Nylabone Products – Dog Chews, Toys & Treats!, Title of video: Learn How to Teach the Wait Command, Date video posted: Aug 29, 2012
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Wait” Command
1. In the house, walk your dog towards a closed door and tell him to sit.
2. Raise your hand in a stop sign and say “wait”.
3. Slowly open the door.
4. Give him a treat if he hesitates to go for the door.
5. Close the door quickly if your dog lunges for it.

Load

dog obedience commands: load

“Load” is an important command if you’re looking to take your canine companion on a ride. “Car” is also just as efficient.

Lead your dog to the car and tell him “sit” or “wait” as you open the door. Next, say “load” as you urge your pooch into the car. You can encourage him either by patting the spot or placing a treat on the car seat.

Remove the leash once he climbs in and tell him “down” for a more comfortable position and give him one last treat.

Source: RedPaw K9, Title of video: How to Teach Your Dog To Load Up, Date video posted: Jun 19, 2019
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Load” Command
1. Lead Fido to the side of the car you want him to load and give the “sit” and “wait” commands.
2. Open the door and say “load” as you lure him into the car by placing a treat on the spot or patting it.
3. Give him a treat if he loads.

Leave it

dog obedience commands: leave it

This command is for when your dog is about to pick up an item he shouldn’t – either because it’s harmful or you just don’t want him messing around with it.

For this, you’ll need two treats in each hand.

Show him one of the treats in one hand while you hide the other behind your back. Naturally, your dog will try to take a bite but don’t let him. Close your fist all the while as you tell him “leave it”. He’ll eventually lose interest, and that’s when you’ll give him the treat in the other hand.

Source: McCann Dog Training, Title of video: How To Teach Your Puppy To Leave It – Professional Dog Training Tips, Date video posted: Sep 4, 2018
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Leave It” Command
1. Hold a treat in each hand.
2. Show your dog one treat while you hide the other behind your back.
3. Close your fist on the treat you show as you keep saying “leave it” to your dog until he loses interest in trying to get it.
4. Give him the treat from the other hand.

Drop it

dog obedience commands: drop it

If you’re too late for the “leave it” command and your dog picks up something, “drop it” can save the situation.

In this case, you’ll need two identical toys (or a toy and a treat).

Let Fido play with one of the toys for a short time. While at it, show him the other toy as you say “drop it” and hand it to him.

If you’re using a toy and a treat, let your dog play with the toy for a short time. Hold up the treat close to his nose and say “drop it” as you let him switch from the toy to the treat.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How to Teach ANY DOG “Drop it” / “Let Go” in Minutes!, Date video posted: Apr 4, 2015
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Drop It” Command
1. Let your dog play with his favorite toy for a short time.
2. Show him another toy (or treat) and say “drop it”.

No

dog obedience commands: No

“No” is your go command if you want your dog to stop whatever he’s doing – or trying to do. A leash and two treats are the requirements for training for this command.

While restraining your dog on a leash, place a treat on the ground. Try leading him towards the treat taking care not to let him have it. When he’s close enough, slightly pull the leash and say “no”. Offer him the other treat when he turns his attention to you.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: The EASIEST Way to Get Your Dog to Understand You! (How to teach your dog words and phrases now!), Date video posted: Sep 13, 2017
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “No” Command
1. Have your dog on a leash and place a treat on the ground.
2. Lead him to the treat but not close enough for him to take a bite.
3. Slightly pull the leash and say “no”.
4. Give him a treat from your pocket.

Heel

dog obedience commands: heel

This command helps keep your dog beside you when you go out on walks.

To teach the “heel” command, begin your walk as usual.

Occasionally, tell your dog “sit” and show your dog a treat before resuming your walk. Keep walking while you hold the treat above his head.

As you walk, keep saying “heel” before letting your dog have the treat.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How To Teach your Puppy to Heel, Date video posted: Feb 18, 2017

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Heel” Command
1. Take a walk with your dog as usual.
2. Along the way, tell him to sit.
3. Hold a treat above his head as you resume the walk.
4. Say “heel” severally as you walk and give your dog the treat.

Speak

dog obedience commands: speak

“Speak” is a great command for locating your canine friend if you can’t find him for some reason. Of course, speaking, in this case, means barking so that’s one aspect you need to keep a close eye on.

You need to know the likely triggers – a doorbell, for instance – and see if you can recreate them for training your dog to speak. Monitor your dog closely – every time he’s about to bark, say “speak” clearly and give them a treat.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How To EASILY Train Your Dog To SPEAK in SECONDS!, Date video posted: May 10, 2020
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Speak” Command
1. Know your dog’s triggers for barking – a doorbell, for instance..
2. Ring the doorbell while keeping an eye on your pooch.
3. Just before he barks, say “speak” and give a treat.

Quiet

dog obedience commands: quit

You don’t want your dog to be barking every time at everything and everyone. So instead of “speak”, you should tell him “quiet”.

Just like “speak” you’ll also need a barking trigger in training your dog to follow the “quiet” command. When your dog starts barking, slide in “quiet” in a firm voice above the barking sound. Give him a treat if he does keep quiet.

Source: Treatpouch, Title of video: Teach Dog to Stop Barking – Treatpouch.com, Date video posted: Feb 22, 2012
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Quiet” Command
1. Know the triggers for your dog barking.
2. While he’s barking, quip in with “quiet” making sure it’s above the barks.
3. Give treat.

Off

dog obedience commands: off

Off is a great command if you want to keep your dog from jumping onto certain surfaces, especially if you’re over at a friend’s place.

For this, you’ll have to wait for your dog to actually get on the couch before you start your training. As soon as your dog tries to settle down on the couch, tell him “off” as you lure him towards you with a treat.

This has to be immediate so that the dog gets the connection between the command and getting on the couch – or whatever surface.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: Off Leash Training: How to Train Your Dog To Listen Off Leash, Date video posted: May 18, 2019

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Off” Command
1. Wait until he climbs the couch – or any surface you don’t want him to.
2. Before he settles down, tell him “off” as you wave a treat in front of him.

Take it

dog obedience commands: take it

Teaching your dog “take it” helps curb his affinity to chew on random stuff.

The command is pretty straightforward to teach using either a toy or a treat. Offer the toy or treat to your dog and just before he grabs it, say “take it”. Over enough time and repeating, Fido will get a hang of what he’s supposed to do when you give the command.

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Take It” Command
1. Offer your dog a toy or a treat.
2. Before he grabs it, say “take it” and give it to him.
Source: eHowPets, Title of video: Teach a Dog to ‘Take It’ and ‘Drop It’ | Teacher’s Pet With Victoria Stilwell, Date video posted: Sep 29, 2012

Show Belly

dog obedience commands: show belly

A few belly rubs a day help create a strong bond between you and your pooch. It can also help spot any skin problems in case of any.

To start teaching this command, have your dog in the down position somewhere quiet and comfortable. With a treat in your hand, show and let him sniff it to get him all excited about getting some. Next, move your hand slowly around his neck as he follows the treat and tell him “show belly”. Let him have the treat.

Source: ECADServiceDog, Title of video: ECAD trainers teach “Show Belly” command, Date video posted: Sep 13, 2016

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Show Belly” Command
1. Get your dog in the down position in a quiet and comfortable place.
2. Show him a treat and get him to follow your hand as you move it around his neck.
3. Say “show belly” and give the treat.

Toileting Command

dog obedience commands: toiletting commands

You can choose any word that you deem fit to associate with your dog doing his business – it makes housetraining so much easier.

Every time he needs to go, take him to a designated spot and mention your choice of a command (“potty”, “pee-pee” etc.) just before he gets down. Once he’s done, give him a treat and some good praise.

Source: ThatDogGeek, Title of video: 7 Quick Tips for TOILET TRAINING a Puppy or Dog, Date video posted: Sep 3, 2016
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Toileting Command” Command
1. Choose the command you’ll be using and set a designated area for your dog to do his business.
2. Take your dog to the area every time he wants to go and say the toileting command just before he goes.
3. Give him a treat after he’s done.

Out

dog obedience commands: out

“Out” works great as a replacement for “drop it”. It too serves to tell your dog to let go of things he shouldn’t be sticking his teeth into.

Start off by giving your doggo his favorite but don’t let go of it. That way, he’ll keep pulling on it until he loses interest.

As soon as he loses interest, tell him “out”.

Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: How to Train Your Puppy To Listen OUTSIDE!, Date video posted: Nov 3, 2018

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Out” Command
1. Offer your dog his favorite toy.
2. Hold onto it as he tries to take it from you.
3. Say “out” as soon as he gives up.

Shake

dog obedience commands: shake

The “shake” command is great for goofing around.

To teach your dog this command, make sure he has the “sit” cue locked down. When he’s settled and has his focus on you, say “shake” and lift his paw. Give him a treat.

Hold on for a few seconds and say “shake” and immediately follow up with another treat. Let go of the paw and start the process over.
Source: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, Title of video: 3 Ways to Teach your Dog How to Shake, Date video posted: Aug 20, 2016

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Shake” Command
1. Get your dog to sit. Ensure he has his focus on you.
2. Say “shake” and lift one of his paws. Give treat.
3. Hold it for a few seconds and shake again. Give another treat and let go.

Release Command

dog obedience commands: release command

A release command walks hand in hand with “stay”. It tells your dog he’s now free to do something after “staying”.

You can come up with your own cue word – okay, go, break, free, etc. – anything that you can remember easily.

When your dog is in the stay position, say your cue word for release and encourage him to move – ideally, you should be a few paces away so that he comes to you. Reward him when he moves at the mention of the cue word.

Source: Robert Cabral, Title of video: Teach Your Dog To STAY – The FREE Command – the Release – Dog Training Video, Date video posted: Mar 30, 2019

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Release Command” Command
1. Choose a cue word for releasing your dog from the stay position.
2. Use the cue when he’s in the stay position and lure him over using a treat.
3. Give treat.

Stand

dog obedience commands: stand

Your dog standing still makes it so much easier for grooming and during vet appointments when an examination is almost inevitable.

Naturally, your dog will have to be either in the sit or down position. What you’ll do is hold a treat close to his nose, close enough for him to get interested.  Then, gradually, bring your hand towards you to prompt him to follow along.

When he gets up on his feet, say “stand” and let him have the treat. Your dog should master it after a few days of doing this.

You can then begin working on keeping him still in the stand position. Just say “stay” every time he gets up and reward him anytime he stays calm even for a few seconds. With time, you can build up on that to extend the duration.

Source: Robert Cabral, Title of video: Teach Your Dog to STAND – Dog Training Video – Robert Cabral – the STAND Command, Date video posted: Jan 5, 2019
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Stand” Command
1. Get your dog in the sit or down position.
2. Hold a treat close to his nose.
3. Slowly move your hand towards you.
4. When Fido gets up, say “stand” and give him the treat.
5. Follow this up with the stay command to keep him still.

Leash

dog obedience commands: leash

You’re going to use a leash quite a lot in teaching your dog some of the commands here and generally for walks.

A common problem dogs have with leashes is getting tangled and you can teach yours to always avoid this.

For this, wrap the leash around your dog’s front paw and gradually increase the loop as you pull it towards you. Say “leash” and reward your dog when he lifts his paw and the leash comes off.

Source: Monkoodog, Title of video: How to leash train your puppy or dog. || Monkoodog, Date video posted: Jun 13, 2019
Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Leash” Command
1. Wrap leash around your dog’s front paw.
2. Say “leash” as you gradually increase the size of the loop pulling towards you.
3. Give a treat when your dog lifts his paw for the leash to come off.

Name

dog obedience commands: name

And of course, your dog needs a name – a good name. It really helps with your interactions and you’ll most probably be calling his name before giving any command. Dog training is much more personable that way.

Usually, you can just call your dog a name of your choosing until he comes to associate it with himself. But that’ll take time. To speed up the process, have a handful of treats and find a distraction-free place.

Allow your dog to take his attention off you and call out his name and give him a treat when he turns towards you.
Source: McCann Dog Training, Title of video: How To Teach A Puppy Its Name – Professional Dog Training Tips, Date video posted: Sep 25, 2018

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Quick Tips for Teaching Your Dog the “Name” Command
1. Find a distraction-free place.
2. Allow your dog’s attention to wander off from you.
3. Call out his name and give a treat if he turns towards you.

That’s it – commands that’ll make for an orderly experience for you and your dog. Which one are you going to start with?

25 Essential Dog Obedience Commands

  1. Watch me
  2. Sit
  3. Come
  4. Emergency Recall
  5. Down
  6. Stay
  7. Bed
  8. Wait
  9. Load
  10. Leave it
  11. Drop it
  12. No
  13. Heel
  14. Speak
  15. Quiet
  16. Off
  17. Take it
  18. Show Belly
  19. Toileting Command
  20. Out
  21. Shake
  22. Release Command
  23. Stand
  24. Leash
  25. Name

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