Dog Training Commands Your Dog Should Know and How to Teach Them

Dog commands are an essential part of your dog’s training. But with so many commands it can be hard to know where to start.

Commands are important because they give your dog structure and consistency in training and obedience. And some of them are just plain fun to do with your dog.

We have compiled a comprehensive list of dog training commands with some information on how to teach your dog each one. We have sorted them into categories so you can start to get a handle on where to begin.

Basic dog commands help to keep your dog safe from harm and let your dog know what you want from him. These commands are the foundation your dog needs and are necessary for your dog’s safety.

They are also ones your dog should master as most of them are needed for some of the more advanced commands and tricks.

Tips for Teaching Your Dog Commands

Before we get started with some dog obedience commands here are a few tips to make things a bit easier for you and your dog.

  • Use short commands. Don’t use long phrases or sentences when you want your dog to do something. This only makes it more difficult for them to understand you. One word is best, two at most.
  • Be consistent. Use the same command word every time. Don’t mix it up or change it. You will just confuse your dog. Also, make sure everyone else in the family is on the same page and using the same commands.
  • Start slow and simple with easy commands and work in small incremental steps. This is known as shape training. Breaking it down into easy to achieve segments.  
  • Don’t move on to a new command until your dog has mastered the one you are working on.
  • Don’t repeat the command. Say it once and wait. Repeating the command over again tells your dog they don’t need to obey you right away.
  • Reward immediately. As soon as your dog obeys the command you should reward them. This helps your dog associate the command with the reward and lets them know they did something right.
  • Change up your rewards. Use a combination of food treats, verbal praise, physical rewards like toys, and physical touch, like a scratch or rub. You will find that your dog will have his preferences.
  • Keep your training sessions short. Just 5-10 minutes is all you need per session. Focus your training on short bursts several times a day.
  • Remain calm and patient. Learning new skills takes time, even for dogs. Be patient with your dog and they will eventually get it.
  • Keep practicing and teaching your dog new skills and commands.

Recommended Reading: How to Train Your Dog

How to Teach Basic Dog Commands

The basic dog commands are the foundation of your dog’s training. They will help you keep control of any situation and ensure your dog is safe from any danger.

These commands are also often the first step in learning some more advanced commands and dog tricks. Most of the basic commands are taught in the same way.

  • Choose your marker word or sound. This is a word, like “good” or “yes”, or a sound, like a clicker. This lets your dog know he has done something right.
  • Teach your dog the marker by saying the word (or clicking) and then follow up immediately with a treat.
  • Repeat this several times so your dog understands that the marker is associated with the treat.
  • Choose your command word – eg. “sit”.
  • Wait for your dog to do the command – your dog sits on his own.
  • Immediately say the command, use your marker, and then give the treat.
  • Then try the command word first – when your dog sits, use the marker and give the treat.
  • Repeat a few times then end the session by releasing your dog to go play.

Basic Dog Training Commands List

These commands for dogs are the ones you should start with to build a foundation for your dog’s training. They are the essential ones your dog should learn if you want them to be obedient and safe.

Name recognition – It is a good idea to get this one out of the way first. Having your dog recognize his own name is important for obvious reasons. Say your dog’s name, when your dog looks at you use your marker word or sound and give a treat. Repeat this 5-10 times a session. Do several short sessions a day until your dog looks at you every time.

Look or watch me – Getting and keeping your dog’s attention is an important step for their training and obedience. It will allow you to get your dog to focus on you when there are distractions.

Come – Calling your dog to you is a foundational command that will help you in a number of situations. You can use it if your dog slips his leash outside, runs out onto a road, gets too far away from you, or to stop him from jumping on others. Never call your dog to come to you for punishment. This will make him less likely to want to come to you in the future.

Sit – The “sit” command helps to control your dog. He can’t jump up on people if he is sitting. It helps dampen their excitement so you can put on that leash or fill the food bowl. Hold a treat in your closed hand near your dog’s nose. Slowly raise your hand up. As your dog follows your hand up his butt will lower to the floor. Once he is sitting on the floor give him the treat and praise him.

Stay – This helps to keep your dog in one place. This is great in group settings when you want to keep your dog near you. It is also useful when playing games, or to stop your dog running somewhere you don’t want him to go.

Wait – This, like “stay”, is a helpful command to keep your dog in one place until you are ready. Useful when waiting to cross the street or to keep your dog from getting out of the car before you are ready.

Down or lie down – This is similar to “sit” and will prevent your dog from engaging in unwanted behavior like jumping on people. It is also a foundation for some more advanced tricks like roll over or crawl.

Off (meaning “get off of me” or “get off the furniture”) – This is useful to keep your dog from jumping on people and to keep him off furniture when you don’t want him there.

Stand – Getting your dog to stand on command is useful for grooming, or visits to the vet for examinations.

Heel (meaning “walk close to my side”) – This command makes walking your dog much more pleasant, which will make you more inclined to go out with them. It gives you better control on walks and stops your dog pulling on the leash, which can be frustrating.

Leave it – This will help to stop your dog from picking up something dangerous, or from eating something that is not for them, or from chewing your stuff. This command tells your dog that it is not for them.

Drop it – This is similar to ‘leave it’ and will ensure your dog lets go of anything he has picked up in his mouth. This can be important if they pick up something harmful to them and is a good foundation for games like fetch and catch.

Okay – This command is used to release your dog from a previous command. If you have told your dog to “wait” or “stay” it lets them know that they can move again. It can also be used to release your dog from training sessions.

No – This is used to stop any unwanted behavior. It tells your dog to immediately stop what he is doing.

Advanced Dog Commands

Once your dog has the basic commands mastered you can move on to some more advanced ones. While these are not essential for your dog to know, they can be fun and sometimes useful.

It is good to keep teaching your dog new commands to keep their minds sharp. Training for these is a little different than the basics so we provide a link to the best resource for each so you can see how it’s done.

Speak – Okay, so not actually speaking, but you can get your dog can bark on command. AKC teach your dog to speak

Quiet/hush – This one will help to keep your dog’s barking under control. The Spruce teach your dog to be quiet

Take it – This pairs well with “drop it”. Doggie Buddy teach your dog to take it

Fetch – Great for playing games or for getting your dog to pick stuff up for you. Quick and Dirty Tips teach your dog to fetch

Catch – Also good for games like frisbee. AKC teach your dog to catch

Put away – This is good for getting your dog to tidy up his toys. He will need to know “take it” and “drop it” first. Pet Central teach your dog to put away toys

Find it – Great for games involving nose work. Doggie Buddy teach your dog to find it

Bring it – A fun way to get your dog to bring you stuff. Your slippers, their leash, a tissue, or the paper. Provided you don’t mind a bit of slobber. Doggie Buddy teach your dog to bring it

Touch/target – This teaches your dog to touch something with his nose. A good foundation command for future tricks like switching on a light or closing a door. Positively teaches hand target training

Hold it – Teaching your dog to hold things in his mouth. The Nest teaches your dog to hold objects in its mouth

Turn left – Directional commands are a useful foundation for games and agility training. Scaredy Dog Agility teaches your dog to turn left and turn right

Turn right – See above.

Backup or walk backward – Like learning directions, this is useful for games and agility, and for getting your dog out of tight spots. Love Your Dog teaches your dog to go back

Eliminate on command – This is handy to get your dog to do its business in your time rather than theirs. Great for road trips. Kinja teaches your dog to pee and poop on command

Tug – Tug of war is a good game to play with your dog. This can also be a stepping stone to opening doors. Karen Pryor Clicker Training teaches your dog to play tug

Open a door – Donna Hill teaches your dog to open doors, drawers and cupboards

Close a doorCuteness teaches your dog to close a door

Recommended Reading: How to Raise the Perfect Dog

Fun Commands – Dog Tricks

These are the fun ones. They may be a bit more challenging for your dog, but once mastered they are fun and make your dog look smart.

Following the command, we mention the basic commands that your dog should know before moving on to these more complex tricks. The links are to video resources that show you how it is done.

Shake – “sit” How to Train Your Dog to Shake Hands For Dummies

High-five – “shake” Dog Tricks : High Five Dog Trick

Wave – “high-five” How to Teach Your Dog to Wave Goodbye

Bow – “stand” How to teach your dog to bow

Roll over – “down” Teach Your Dog to Roll Over

Sit pretty – “sit” Dog Tricks : Sitting Pretty Dog Trick

Play dead – “sit pretty” and “down” Bang Trick – How to teach the best dog trick EVER

Spin – “stand” How to Teach Your Dog to Spin

Crawl – “down” How to Teach a Dog to Crawl

Kiss – “sit” Teach Your Dog How To Kiss

Hug – “sit pretty” Teach Your Dog to HUG You!

Shake yourself – “sit” “stand” Teach your dog to shake off water

Weave through legs – “target your hand” How to teach your dog to weave through your legs

Jump up – “target your hand” Dog Tricks: Jump Up Into Your Arms

Jump over – “target your hand” Teach Your Dog to Jump over a Bar

Jump through a hoop – “target your hand” Teach Your Dog to Jump through a Hoop 

Jump rope – “target your hand” How to Teach Your Dog to Skip Rope 

Handstand – “back up” Train your dog the walking handstand!

Tuck yourself in bed – “roll over” Dog Trick of the Day ‘Tuck Yourself In’

YawnClicker Training of “Yawn”

Limping – “shake” How to teach your dog to limp

Moonwalk – “down” “crawl” “back up” Training session for Moonwalk

Ring a bell – “touch” Potty Training: How to Train your Dog to RING A BELL to be Let Outside

Light switch – “touch/target” The most amazing dog trick- turn the lights on and off

Count – “speak” How to Train Your Dog to Count

DanceHow to Teach Your Dog to Dance

Backflip – “catch” Train Your Dog to Flip

Catch a frisbee in the air -“catch” How to Teach your Dog to Catch a Frisbee in the Air

Teach Your Dog These Essential Commands!

There are plenty more fun tricks you can teach your dog. Experiment on your own and enjoy your playtime together. Teaching your dog new commands and tricks will keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

Recommended Reading: How to Tell if Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation