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Training a dog is about building a relationship between dog and owner, installing the trust that needs to be in place to ensure a lifetime of companionship between the two. Your role as a dog trainer is an important one as you educate both animals and humans in their interaction with each other. But which commands are the most important to guarantee good behaviour? The 7 most important dog training commands are detailed in this guide.
With all commands, it is important to remind the owners that the tone of their voice and body language are just as important as the commands themselves. A command delivered in a quiet, timid voice is unlikely to get the desired result.
This is a very basic command but one that is important to master. It is particularly important for excitable puppies but should be conquered quickly as it is the stepping-stone to so many other elements of their dog training journey. Start with commanding the dog to sit with an assertive tone and then reward them every time they do.
The dog will quickly learn that sitting gets them a treat! Once they have got the hang of this then say sit every time that they sit down, and they will associate the command with the action.
Also referred to as ‘recall training’, this is one of the most important commands you will teach your dog owners as they can get their dogs out of a dangerous situation by getting them to return to their owner and a safe place. This command should be delivered enthusiastically, making whatever situation they are leaving less appealing than returning to their owner.
The training process for this command should start on the lead and you will gradually build up to being off the lead and increasing the distance between dog and owner.
Dogs are often keen to bounce after their owners, keen to follow them to whatever exciting destination they might be headed to. However, ‘Stay’ is an important command as it not only gets them to stay still but might also keep them safe from surrounding hazards, for example busy roads.
Start by extending a hand to the dog and say ‘stay’ in an assertive tone. If the dog stays, then she should be rewarded. During training you should repeat, gradually increasing the distance between owner and dog.
This is an important command to stop a dog from picking up something that they shouldn’t. Put a treat in a place that the dog can see (for example on top of a table or on the floor by your feet). Make sure that the dog can see it and then say ‘leave it’ in an assertive tone.
If they leave it then they should be rewarded (although not with the treat that you have told them to leave!). You can build on this training by increasing the amount of the time that you ask them to ‘leave it’.
This command is important for keeping a dog safe and still but also for getting them to stay calm.
One method for training is to use a treat to show the dog, then place it on the floor while still holding it in your hand. The dog will try to get to it but eventually lie down to reach it. This is when you reward the dog. Repeat until they lie down straight away when commanded.
Dogs can get anxious when stressed, so using a command such as ‘settle’ will help calm them. It is best to use the lead when training this command. Get whoever is training the dog to sit down and put a foot on the lead to stop the dog from moving away.
The dog might start off quite excitable but once they calm down when they realise that they can’t get anywhere, the dog can be rewarded. Introduce the instruction ‘settle’ so that they associate the behaviour with the command.
Useful for getting a dog off a bed or sofa, this is quite a simple instruction with a simple training method. Instruct the dog to ‘get off’, when they do it then they can be rewarded.
Repeat until the dog gets straight off when told. It is best to use the words ‘get off’ for this command as ‘get down’ might confuse the animal who will not be able to understand if you are asking them to get off or lie down.
This is an important command to keep a dog safe but also to continue to teach them good behaviour by showing them what is not acceptable.
There are a range of ways to approach training for this command either through noise association or clicker training. This time a reward should not be given but once you have attempted to associate ‘no’ with not receiving a treat give the dog another command like ‘sit’ which they will get rewarded for.
Many of these dog commands can be accompanied by the appropriate hand signals for dogs. These commands can be taught by a range of methods including clicker training or simply using their favourite edible treat or toy.
Whatever method you use, make these commands the pillars of your training sessions to generate good behaviour and an excellent owner/dog relationship within your pet business.