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10 commands every dog should know

Here are 10 commands or cues every dog owner should work to perfect with his or her dog beyond the basics.

Of course, the words you decide to use are not as important as how your dog responds to the commands.

Other words could be substituted for my suggestions. For example, the word “give” would work just fine instead of “drop.”

In the comments, let me know what other words you think are important for every dog to learn.

Here are the 10 commands to teach your dog

10 commands every dog should know

1. Teach your dog the command drop.

It’s important for a dog to know the drop command so he will drop whatever he has in his mouth if he’s not supposed to have it. It could be a shoe, towel, a baby toy or any object.
It’s also nice when a dog will drop his own toy on command when you are playing fetch or you simply want to end a play session or put the dog’s toys away.

2. Teach your dog the command off.

This command is important to teach your dog for when he jumps up on people or jumps on the furniture. Many people make the mistake of saying “down” in these situations. This is a mistake because most dogs have been trained to lie down when they hear the word “down.” “Down” should mean lie down, and “off” should mean get off the furniture or person.

See my post: How to teach your dog OFF

3. Teach your dog to leave it.

Leave it is a good command to teach your dog for anything you don’t want him to touch. You can say “leave it” while referring to a stick, food, other dogs, a cat, people, whatever it might be. Leave it simply means leave it alone!

4. Teach your dog a command for go to the bathroom such as “hurry up.”

I tell my dog to hurry up every time I want him to go to the bathroom. He will literally pee on command. I have taught him this because I used to live in North Dakota and it got really old standing outside in the cold late at night waiting for him to go to the bathroom.

5. Teach your dog a release word such as “OK.”

I use the word “OK” as a release for anything I’ve told my dog to do. When he’s in a sit position, he is supposed to sit until I say “OK.” The same goes with stay, down, stand, etc. I wrote a post on the importance of the release command here.

6. Teach your dog to heel.

This one speaks for itself. To avoid my dog pulling me down the street and making daily walks almost unbearable, I have to teach him to walk properly on a leash. Heel means walk at my side at my speed. This one is easier said than done, and I think it will be a lifetime process for Ace to perfect it, but I refuse to have a dog pulling me on a walk.

7. Teach your dog to wait.

This command is a little different than the stay command. Basically, stay means stay until I return and release you. Wait means wait until I say it’s OK for you to follow me. For example, I tell Ace to wait while I open the door before our walk. I also tell him to wait if he is in the car and I’m about to let him out. In both situations, I want him to wait until I am ready to deal with him.

See: Stay vs. wait

8. Teach your dog all the basic commands.

All dogs deserve to know the basics such as sit, down, stay, come and no! These commands help dogs fit into our society. A dog is not well trained unless it knows at least these five words. I can’t imagine living with a dog and not teaching it basic obedience. The possibilities for what we can teach our dogs go on and on, but these commands are something to start with.

9. Teach your dog to go to his bed.

This command is important for when you need your dog to lie down and relax. It wouldn’t have to be a bed, it could be a blanket or towel or pillow. The key is to train your dog to lie down and relax in one spot. This can be helpful when you have visitors over or when you’re eating dinner or just watching TV and your dog needs to take a break from playing and “chill out.”

See my post: How to teach a dog to go to his bed

10. Teach your dog the command load up.

This is a good command for when you want your dog to get in the car. My dog loves the car, and he used to bound right in as soon as I opened any car door. This was a problem when I was trying to put other things in the back seat before my dog.

If Ace was excited, he’d jump in the car before I even had the door all the way open. I hate it when a dog is barging ahead of me, or practically tearing my arm off in order to get somewhere, so the wait command followed by the load up command helps to prevent this.

What are some other important commands you have taught your dog?

10 commands every dog should learn

Catherine MacIvor

Thursday 9th of November 2017

My dog (we rescued him a few years ago)is not super social with other dogs and used to lunge forcefully and bark like crazy when they would approach - even on the other side of the street. I started using the command "Mind your business" when we would see another dog. Along with the command I point in the direction I want him to keep going. It's taken many months but he has calmed down somewhat and "Mind your business" works in those situations. He still looks back over his shoulder but he doesn't lunge or bark like he used to.

Judy Weikum

Friday 12th of May 2017

After being out in the rain, my dog has learned "shake". Shaking his head and whole body. If I have no treat at the time of a good behavior, I say "owe you". Then I rush to get a treat,then saying "owe you" and give him the treat.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 12th of May 2017

I like that!


Thursday 11th of May 2017

My 11 month old weimaraner knows most of these commands, although I can often see him deciding whether he's going to obey! I'd add 'Go home' to the list. I say this when we're returning to the house, anywhere within about 20 meters of the front door and then reinforce when he's waiting to be let inside - the plan is that if he ever escapes or shoots out the door I can just tell him to 'go home'.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 12th of May 2017

I like that idea of "Go Home"!


Thursday 11th of May 2017

Sit, Stay, Down, Leave it, Drop, Play dead, Up, Paws up, Climb, rollover, High 5 left-right-both paws, sad, bow, crawl, sit pretty, Hup (jump over), around, spin, peek a boo and more...she learn those by 7 months.


Wednesday 4th of January 2017

Hello, how do you teach a dog to hurry up and go to the bathroom? I have a newly adopted rescue mutt who is almost two - he takes his time going to the bathroom. I've tried doing the good dog praise when he goes, but he is really indifferent to this. All of my other dogs pretty much went on command, but I don't recall having to work hard at this. I'm about six months in - use a pretty regular feed/walk schedule. Thanks.