As a professional dog trainer, there are five obedience commands I feel every dog owner can benefit from teaching their dog. Having a dog that listens will make life easier and less stressful for you. It also makes life safer for your dog and ultimately provides them more freedom and the ability to partake in your daily life/activities.
Place: The goal of the “Place” command is for your dog to be sent to a specific location: dog bed, folded blanket, area of carpet, etc. (any spot that is distinguishable from the rest of the flooring around you) and to remain on their regardless of what is going on around them. Your dog can stand up, sit, lay down, etc., their only responsibility is to not leave the “Place”.
“Place” is a great household management command which enables you to mitigate many problematic issues such as begging for food at the table or jumping on guests. A dog who is in “Place” can relax and will not jump, run around, or be bothersome during important daily activities.
Sit (with built-in stay): “Sit” is the most widely known and most frequently misused command. The key is for your dog to calmly “Sit” until released (built-in stay) and to be used in important daily life situations.
I ask dogs to sit when: entering/exiting doors to the home, getting mail from the mailbox, before jumping in/out of the car, waiting for their food to be put down, entering/exiting the crate, and as a polite way to greet people (instead of jumping or overexcitement).
Down (with built-in stay): “Sit” is a short duration command (as it is less comfortable for the dog than a “Down”), so we utilize “Down” for long durations. Having a rock solid “Down” enables you to take your dog to public places (Vet’s office, parks/ball games, other people’s homes, and outdoor coffee shops) and have your dog relax at your feet when you get there. This prevents your dog from pulling, lunging at a passersby, and constantly wandering around.
Practice “Down” every day, looking to gradually increase duration (length of time your dog remains in the command) and upping the level of distractions. Your goal should be to progress to a 1 hr. “Down”.
Come: In my opinion, this is the most important command for a dog to be reliable with. For safety reasons, it is essential for your dog to come when called. If your dog sneaks out the front door/car door, chases an animal, etc. your dog needs to immediately stop and come back when you call.
With a reliable “Come” I can: call a dog from another room in the house, recall the dog when playing with another dog, and recall the dog when outside in the yard.
Off: One of the most common calls I get from puppy/dog owners is how to get their dog to stop jumping on people and objects in the home. The simple way to address this is with the “Off” command. “Off” communicates to your dog to get down from what they are on and have all four paws on the floor.
This addresses your dog’s issues of taking items off tables/counters and jumping when your dog is excited to meet guests. More than likely your dog has no intent to injure someone, but they may accidently scratch or knock someone over (the elderly or young children are most susceptible to this).
Does your dog know how to properly greet guests? Here’s an example of where “Off” can be used:
Take advantage of National Train Your Dog Month and use these five obedience commands to help make your life easier and provide your dog more enjoyable freedom.