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Best Commands To Teach Your Dog

Oct 1st, 2021

Training our dogs is a win-win-win situation for us, our pups and the environment we live in. Yes, it takes time and effort, but a lifetime’s worth of well-trained pets makes all the hard work worth it!

Why do we train dogs?

Training benefits a dog’s health

Teaching your dog to do some tricks is certainly fun and quirky, but having a well-trained dog means having a healthier and happier dog, too!

Dogs are smart creatures and therefore need plenty of mental stimulation throughout the day to keep them from getting bored.  And although different breeds require different levels of mental stimulation, dogs are generally calmer and easier to control when they have the chance to use their brain regularly. As it happens, dogs really enjoy the process of learning new rules, tricks and commands, and it does wonders for their mental wellbeing!

Training is also a great way to incorporate proper exercise into your regular routine. 

Dogs are highly athletic, and even the smaller and gentler dog breeds need more exercise than one would imagine. With a well-trained dog in tow, it’s easier to play at the park, go on a hike or head out on a run without worrying about potential disasters. More exercise equals happier dogs, and it’s easier to get that kind of exercise when your dog is reliable outside the home.

Finally, training can also be vital to keeping your dog safe. The ability to recall a dog while on a hike through the woods can keep your pup from encountering dangerous wildlife, other dogs and other humans. If you’re in the city, it can keep your dog away from busy roads and from dangerous machinery. If you're at home, it can keep your dog away from ingesting something they’re not meant to. 

Dog training is beneficial to the dog owner

In a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), researchers found that around 96% of dogs relinquished to pet shelters had no form of obedience training. This wasn’t necessarily the driving factor behind all the relinquishments, but it’s telling to see how few of the abandoned dogs were properly trained. 

A well-trained dog also means a happier dog owner. Dogs don’t intrinsically know what we want, so it’s up to us to teach them what we are asking of them. Teaching a dog to focus its chewing habit on toys rather than our running shoes benefits us in the long run, as does teaching them to be sociable with other humans and dogs. 

It does neither us nor our dogs any good to see them as burdens, and training can help make life run smoother and easier than life without it! 

That all being said, here are some of the best commands you can teach your dog, and why they are important, too!

Most useful commands for dogs

Contrary to popular belief, you can absolutely teach old dogs new tricks! In fact, you might have an easier time teaching new commands to older dogs than you will with younger dogs, as they are not as burdened with excess energy as younger dogs are. 

These commands below are the foundations and prerequisites of many other commands, and they will create an easier and more controlled environment with which to conduct any other training. 


Sitting is a great command to start training for, whether you’ve got a rambunctious puppy or a wizened old hound. 

The concept of sitting comes naturally to dogs as it’s something they do all the time anyway, making it easier to associate a spoken command with the appropriate action. 

Benefits: Teaching your dog to sit not only helps control jumping and excitement, but it’s also a great transition into other commands. It’s like a reset button that calms your dog and brings their concentration to you!


Lying down is a step above the “sit” command, as it’s still fairly natural for dogs to do while also requiring more control of their energy.

Once lying down, you can transition to other commands, like “roll over,” “play dead” or “crawl.”

Benefits: Laying down is a great way to stop any hyperactivity right in its tracks. It takes such conscious effort to go from full run to full stop, which is a great opportunity for your dog to practice self control. 


This command might take a few days or weeks to really click in your dog’s mind, but it’s worth the effort, for sure. 

Usually, the “stay” command is practiced in the sitting or down position, although many dogs also follow the command in the standing position, too. The most vital training tip for this command is that there has to be a definitive start and end to the staying period. This will not only help your dog understand the limits of the stay, but it can help you control your dog better in the long run.

Benefits: Teaching your dog to stay is a great way to practice control at mealtimes or when visitors come over, but it is also one of the most important commands you could teach your dog. A dog that knows how to stay will stick right to your side if an untrained dog runs up to them in a park, or if a ball bounces into a busy street. It can save their life if there are dangerous animals nearby, or if you know that other owner’s can’t control their dogs properly. 


Recall is an absolute must if you are looking to bring your dog on any outdoor adventures. 

If you’ve ever struggled with getting your dog to follow this command, then you’re not alone! The trick is to train your dog to follow a reliable recall, meaning that every single time you issue the command, you can expect a response. If your dog only follows this command at home but not at the park, they do not have the command fully understood.

There are two main things to think about when training this command. First, you need to make yourself more interesting than the object your dog is chasing after. Second, you need to give them a reason to come back. Watch the video below to see how to establish the basics of a recall command!

Benefits: If you can rely on your dog to come whenever you call, it frees you up to do so many more activities! You can go to parks, go hiking, visit dog-friendly restaurants and visit friends knowing that you can keep your pup under control. 


If you live in a city or urban area, then you’re likely taking your dog for walks on sidewalks or in parks where there are plenty of distractions. Teaching your dog to heel is vital to a happy walking experience for you, your dog and your fellow pedestrians!

Now, making your dog heel doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to discourage sniffing altogether. It just means that your dog isn’t pulling on the leash or dragging you where they want. Remember, you can be in control and allow your dog to enjoy the walk at the same time!

Benefits: A controlled walk means a controlled environment, and teaching your dog to walk alongside you is so helpful when you live in busy areas! It will make your experience so much better because you can trust your dog to stay by your side. 

Good luck!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/825545

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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