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10 Basic Dog Commands Your Dog Needs to Know

April Brightman
January 12, 2024
June 19, 2023
7 minutes
Updated By
Expert Reviewed By:
June 19, 2023
June 16, 2023
7 minutes
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Discover the essential 10 dog commands every pet owner must teach their furry friend for effective communication and a harmonious relationship. Enroll in Pettable Academy today.

Knowing basic dog commands is the first step in teaching your dog good behavior. Establishing clear expectations for commands early will help you and your dog bond and build trust, opening up a whole world of possibilities for you two.

When your furry friend has the basic dog commands down, you know you can take them into new situations and be able to manage them when meeting new people or when you’re out in public together. These 10 basic dog commands will be the foundation of training your dog properly.

Basic Dog Commands

Basic dog commands are crucial for effective communication and obedience training. Start with fundamental commands like 'sit,' 'stay,' 'down,' and 'come.' Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to encourage your dog's learning. Consistency and patience are key. Practice short training sessions daily, gradually increasing the difficulty level. Remember to reward your furry friend's progress and always prioritize their well-being throughout the training process.

1. Sit

Teaching your dog to sit is one of the first and most commonly used dog commands you’ll want them to learn. The sit command is also a great starting point for getting your dog’s attention and teaching them other commands.

Following the sit command is vital for your dog to know when to wait, when to pay attention, and when to wait for the next command from you. This command can be useful in countless situations, from keeping your dog safe to holding them to polite behavior. Knowing the sit command will be a benefit no matter where you and your dog roam.

2. Down

The purpose of the down command is to communicate to your dog that you want them to lie down in a certain place for a period of time. It lets them know they can get comfortable and settle in for a while and lets you know your dog will stay put when they’ve mastered this command.

Teaching the down command can also help calm your dog down in exciting situations. It tells them it’s time to settle down and lie down, interrupting unwanted behaviors like jumping when meeting a new person or begging when people are eating. They can wait for the scraps while lying under the table, out of the way when you give the down command.

3. Stay

Teaching a dog to stay is another important basic command for helping your dog maintain self-control and stay safe by following your instructions. It’s a clear, concise directive that lets your dog know it’s time to stay put.

Being able to follow the stay command indicates that your dog can demonstrate impulse control when it comes time to stick to one spot. Safety situations where the stay command can be helpful might be crossing the street, waiting for you while you’re doing something that might not be suitable for dogs, or rushing the door when you come and go without them.

4. Come

Making sure your dog learns to follow the come command is one of the most essential parts of training your dog. Your dog needs to have a good recall response for you to be able to trust that they’ll come when you call them. 

The number one reason to learn the come command is safety. Dogs who don’t come when called run the risk of becoming lost or injured. You want to be sure your dog will come right back to you in dangerous situations and to keep them close by. 

Responding to the come command is especially important for your dog during any type of off-leash activities like dog parks or hiking. When you need your dog to respond at a moment’s notice, you’ll be glad you had them master the come command.

5. Off

The off command is another important one for making sure your dog is well-behaved when you expect it. It’s used mainly to tell your dog to take their paws or their body ‘off’ of something or someone. The off command can be used to get dogs off of furniture, people, or anywhere little doggy paws don’t belong.

Off is a good, clear command to use for excited pups who struggle to remember their manners when they get excited, and engage in behaviors like jumping or herding. While we can all appreciate the enthusiasm of an animated pup, not everyone enjoys being jumped on and getting paws all over them. The off command can absolutely help to eliminate this problem. 

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6. Heel

Heel is an essential basic dog command to teach dogs that like to stay active with their humans. For any dog that likes to walk, run, or hike alongside their people, learning how to heel means learning to keep pace with the rate at which human is moving.

The heel command can be used for on-leash activities and off-leash activities alike. When on the leash, telling your dog to heel will have them stick beside you without pulling on their leash from in front of or behind you. When off leash, the heel command tells your dog they need to stay close even though they have the freedom to roam. 

7. No

Perhaps the most basic command in dog training, teaching your dog no will make it a whole lot easier to convey your expectations quickly. No is used when it’s time to tell your dog to stop something and keep them from engaging in undesirable behavior.

It’s important to deliver the no command either while your dog is doing the unwanted behavior, or, if you can anticipate it, right before your dog is about to do the behavior. For example, if you see your dog gearing up to jump on the couch, giving them to command of ‘no’ will stop the problem before it starts.

8. Watch Me

Especially important in public situations, giving your dog the command of ‘watch me’ lets them know it’s time to be totally focused. It tells your dog you expect their full attention and eye contact.

Following the watch me command means your dog isn’t allowing itself to become distracted by any outside forces, and they’re ready to receive your next command.

9. What's That?

If there were ever a command for “time to investigate,” giving your dog the directive of “what’s that?” is it. Using this command tells your dog to approach an object or a setting, but lets them know to do so with caution.

You might use this command if you’re out on a walk and encounter something strange on the trail that you don’t want your dog to dive headfirst into, but you’re still willing to allow them to get closer and check it out.

10. Touch

The touch command in dog training is teaching your dog to touch an object with the tip of their nose. A dog’s nose is up to 100 million times more sensitive than a human nose, and pups experience a lot of the world through their sense of smell.

Touch is a good command to teach your dog when it comes to greeting people. Giving the touch command when someone reaches out their hand lets your dog know that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and indicates what they should do for an appropriate greeting. Who doesn’t love a nose boop from a dog?

Other Basic Dog Commands to Know

Some of the other important basic dog commands to know include ‘leave it,’ ‘settle,’ and ‘quiet.’ Each of these is important in different ways and communicate to your dog what your expectations are in that moment. 

Telling your dog to leave it will make it clear to stay away from whatever (or whoever) might become a distraction to them while telling them to settle lets your dog know it’s time to calm down and stay put. Giving the command of ‘quiet’ might seem like an obvious expectation to us humans, but dogs who have it down are much easier to get to stop barking or whining.

Teach Basic Dog Commands with Pettable Academy

Pettable Academy is here to help you with the best basic dog command training out there. Move through our expert-led lessons created by certified, professional dog trainers at your own pace and from the comfort of your home. Pettable will give you the necessary know-how to have your dog trained in the most important basic commands in no time.

Meet the author:
April Brightman

April Brightman is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for traveling and hiking with her rescue pup, Marley. She's written for pet-centered sites like Outward Hound, as well as outdoorsy adventure brands like BearVault, Hipcamp, and Explorer Chick.

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