10 Dog Commands

Dog sitting with trainer

1. Sit

Sit is key to get as a solid behavior because it can be utilized when working on proper greetings or providing a dog with an incompatible behavior to jumping.

2. Down

It works as an incompatible behavior to things like jumping but also is handy when working on teaching place or a settle. It is also a safety measure for your dog.  Imagine a chaotic situation involving cars, bikes, noise, confusion and chaos.  The down command will keep your dog safe.

3. Leave-it-the-lifesaver

Leave it is a learned skill that is a life saver for your dog. Not only to teach a dog to leave food or property (shoes, kids stuffies furniture, socks, clothing, towels, carpet) but other dogs, cats, people, sticks, balls, rotten food from garbage, chicken bones etc.  As well, as a harsh reality, there are mean people out there: what food left for a dog to find is laced with poison? 

4. Loose Leash Walking

Whether a dog is allowed freedom outdoors or not, how to walk on a leash is a behavior to start immediately. There will always be a time when a dog needs to be put on a leash and it is more pleasurable for dog and handler when the leash is loose, let alone safer. Loose leash walking is very difficult to master. It takes time and patients and practice and repetition and more patience and more repetition. There is no one right way to train your pup to keep a slack leash.

5. Settle/Relax

Clients tend to focus their attention on exercising their dog which can lead to an anxious or hyperactive dog that doesn’t know how to calm down. Dogs will adapt to the level of exercise they are given, similar to a human starting to train for a marathon or a marathon runner becoming couch potato. We need to teach them to settle and relax in the face of excitement or boredom. Mastering such a skill is helpful to dog and human if only to reduce stress levels for both.

6. Recall

Also known as “coming when called,” reliable recall is a life-saving behavior that takes lots of practice to be truly successful. It is a difficult skill to master. An enormous patients is required.  Coming to the human when called is a priority behavior to teach early.  We can often see people in dog parks get frustrated with their dog when it is time (human time) to leave because their dog will not come to them. Maybe they are now late for work or home, maybe there is an appointment or event to get to and the dog wants to stay and play.  This can be very upsetting.  Let’s avoid that.

7. Place

Place is a versatile tool that can be a towel, dog bed, mat of some kind  etc. that can be used to have the dog target at a specific location then relax and settle.

8. Being a Responsible Leader

Humans go through all doorways, passageways, gates, upstairs, downstairs, in and out of elevators, in and out of the car: always.  Being first is the leadership position. It is also highly responsible in terms of giving your dog confidence that everything is OK, that you protect them.  For example: being first out of an elevator.  What happens if a dog exits the elevator first on a seven foot leash and there is an aggressive dog with a muzzle order not wearing the muzzle?  This is a potentially negative experience for that dog.

9. Handling

It is OK to touch your dog.  There are several benefits realized from regularly handling and touching your dog. Examples of handling your dog in this context would be to check their teeth, gently, very gently tug the tail (if they have a tail) look in tor even clean their  ears, groom/brush, shoulder/leg massage, open eyes of the dog wide.  Having strangers perform these exercises on your dog from time to time is a definite bonus to prep for vet visits!  When a dog is accustomed to being touched by humans, the risk of a bite could be drastically reduced.  It’s a relief to know if a kid touches your dog the kid will not sustain a bite because of an unwanted touch.

10. Drop

Teaching drop helps prevent resource guarding. Instead of forcing something away from the dog we can give the dog the choice to drop the item for something of better value.  This command is also helpful in saving a dog’s life.  Let’s say dog is romping through a park and zooms by a picnic table. There are remnants of hamburgers, left over chicken bones, pizza crust etc.  Maybe your dog eats a bunch of these scraps and gets sick – at both ends, for the next day or two.  This is not fun for the dog to experience and the results for the human to deal with, also potentially unpleasant. On a more serious note, there are diabolical people out there who, for some reason, like to bring harm to dogs.  If a dog picks up a piece of human food intending to eat, to get the dog to drop it, spit it out instantly is a great life insurance policy to have for your dog.

The above behaviors are not a 1 to 10 ranking in order of importance..

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