One of the best things about being a dog owner is teaching it new commands and tricks. Dogs are some of the smartest animals on the planet and can easily pick up commands and tricks that can be a bit too complex for other animals. That said, there are plenty of different commands and tricks that can be taught to most dogs. But what are the top four best commands and tricks you should teach your dog?
When teaching your dog commands, the four most essential ones are usually come, sit, down, and stay. Meanwhile, if you want your dog to learn neat tricks that can impress guests, the best ones are rollover, shake hands, stand, and fetch.
Dogs are smart enough to learn more commands and tricks and are very intuitive animals that can easily pick up certain habits that you may not have wanted them to learn. But when it comes to teaching dogs commands and tricks.
How many commands and tricks can a dog learn?
If you have taken care of dogs in the past, you would know that these animals are some of the world’s smartest creatures. That’s because these animals are intelligent enough to remember things that you teach them and associate some of their certain behaviors with rewards. In that regard, it is pretty normal for most dogs to easily learn certain commands and tricks depending on how the pet owner teaches them.
Teach your dog using positive reinforcement
Speaking of rewards, the best way for you to teach a dog commands and tricks is by using a rewards system or by taking advantage of positive reinforcement. This is basically when you would reward a dog or reinforce a certain behavior by giving it something it loves. In this case, the reward is usually a treat or sometimes even acts of encouragement such as a pat on the head, a belly rub, or an enthusiastic way of telling your dog that you loved what it did.
So, in that regard, when you are looking to reward your dog’s behavior because you want it to remember that action in conjunction with a command or a trick, you have to remember that dogs still do have limits to how many commands and tricks they can learn. That is why you need to make sure you choose which actions you want to reinforce.
Dogs can remember over 250 words
That said, dogs are smart enough to actually learn and understand over 250 words and expressions from human speech. Technically speaking, they probably won’t understand what we are saying. Still, they can remember those words and phrases and even associate them with certain actions prompted by command words coming from their owners. That is basically how teaching dog commands and tricks work.
But as smart as the dog is, it is believed that not all of them can truly associate all of the words you utter with certain actions on their part. That is why, on average, dogs can only remember about 20 commands and tricks. On your part, you have to choose the most important ones.
This is why we have listed the four commands and tricks that we believe are the fundamental ones that every dog should know. After teaching those four commands and tricks, it is now up to you to teach them the other stuff you believe is useful to you and the dog.
Four commands every dog should know
When it comes to teaching your dog basic commands that it should know, here are the four most important ones:
At the top of our list for the basic commands that dogs should know is the “come” command. This is at the top because of how every dog should actually know when and how to come close to its owner when its attention is being called. If the dog doesn’t know how to come, most other tricks might not even work at all.
When you teach a dog how to come, you might have to teach it its name first. That is because a dog’s name is the main word you should be using to call your furry pal’s attention. By simply saying “Fido,” Fido will actually turn its attention towards you to wait for your next command, which is usually the “come” command.
Teaching a dog its name is quite easy. In many cases, as long as you are often using its name around it while showing a positive demeanor towards it while using its name, it will begin to associate itself with that name. However, you may need to use the rewards system to teach your dog its name in some cases. When your dog already knows its name, a simple call of its name will easily call its attention towards you because of how it associated its name not only with itself but also quite possibly a reward of some sort.
After teaching your dog its name, here are the things you need to do to teach it how to come to you:
- Choose a command word such as “come” or even something as simple as your dog’s name or any kind of signal you may want to use.
- After calling your dog’s attention, use the command word you chose to ask it to come to you. You can use “come” the entire time.
- Meanwhile, as you are calling your dog using the command word, use a treat or any kind of other rewards to lure it towards you. Doing so will allow the dog to associate the command word and the action of coming to you as things that make it deserving of a treat or a reward from you.
- Do this exercise once or twice daily for about 10 minutes at a time. Try to reduce the frequency of giving your dog treats when asking it to come to you. Your dog will, later on, respond to your command word with or without the treat or reward.
The sit command is a great way to teach your dog to behave and stay put in certain situations. A simple “sit” will prompt your pet to stay calm and sit down in times when you would want it to do nothing but sit. There are actually two different effective methods to teach your dog how to sit.
- Stand in front of your dog while holding its treat in front of it. Do not give your furry friend the treat and make sure that it does not try to lunge towards you to get the treat.
- As the dog is waiting for you to give it its treat, it will begin to sit down on its hind legs as it is getting impatient for you to hand over the reward.
- When you see your dog beginning its sit-down motion, use the command word “sit” so that it will begin to associate the word with the action it is doing.
- After your dog completed the action of sitting down, promptly give it its treat so that it will understand that the action it performed a while ago was associated with a reward.
- Step back a foot or two and allow it to come closer to you. Repeat the same process above while still using the “sit” command to prompt it to sit.
- Do this exercise once or twice a day for at least ten minutes until it will start to sit when you use the command word “sit”. However, what you need to do when you are doing the exercise is to avoid giving it a treat if it sits down before you use the command word. Always make sure that it will only sit down whenever you are using the command word for it to sit and that you will only reward it after it does so.
- The second method involves using the treat as a lure instead of using it as a reward at the end of a certain action. That is why method B is often called luring.
- What you need to do here is to call your dog’s attention until it comes near you. Make sure that it is standing up and not sitting down.
- Kneel in front of the dog and hold the treat in front of its head. Steadily move the treat up its head so that it will begin to tilt its head up to try to nibble at the treat. Do not give it its reward yet but you can allow it to nibble at it.
- As the dog is tilting its head up while you are moving the treat, it will begin to sit down on its hind legs to try to get a better angle at the treat.
- When the dog’s bottom reaches the floor, that is when you should release the treat and allow it to eat it. But, during the entire time, it is imperative that you do not use the command word “sit” yet.
- Repeat the same process a few more times. After that, try to do it without the treat in your hand. Instead, try doing it with a closed fist while making your dog believe that you have a treat in your hand. It will most likely do the same action even without the treat.
- When your dog is already used to sitting down when you do the action with your hand, try associating the same action with the command word “sit” while it is moving its bottom towards the floor. At this point, it will begin to associate the action with your hand signal and the command word “sit”.
- While you are doing this exercise, steadily eliminate the hand signal from the equation but make sure you are still using the command word. Do this repeatedly until the dog is now used to sitting down without you using a hand signal.
Teaching the “down” command is the same as teaching it to lay down on the floor. This is a lot similar to the “sit” command, but the “down” command is a great way for you to open the dog up for more tricks it can learn later on. This includes tricks such as “rollover” or “play dead.”
Here is how you teach the “down” command:
- Take your dog to a room where there aren’t a lot of distractions. The rationale here is to bore your dog so that it won’t have a lot of things to do. The bathroom might be a good place to start. As long as there won’t be a lot of distractions in the room, the room will be good enough for your dog to learn the “down” command.
- Wait for your dog to begin to lie down when it gets too boring. As soon as you see it lying down, use the “down” command during its movement. After it has gone down to the floor, give it with a treat.
- From there, ask your dog to stand up by luring it with another treat or a reward. Wait until it gets bored once again so that it will start to lie down on the floor. Again, use the command word “down” and give it its treat after the action.
- Start using the “down” and “stand” commands together while giving your dog a treat every time it successfully does those actions. Steadily take the treat away from the equation when your dog has gotten used to the commands. Repeat the steps as necessary.
Contrary to what many people believe, the “stay” command is different from the “sit” command, but there are still some similarities. The basic premise of this command is to make sure that your dog will stay in its place regardless of its position. It might be standing, sitting, or lying down the entire time as long as it stays in its place until you use a release word that will allow it to move again.
There are two steps to teaching the “stay” command because you have to teach the release word and the command word separately. But the release word should take priority.
Teaching the release word:
- Choose a release word that you feel is easy to say and understand for your dog. Something as simple as saying “okay” or “go” can be easy enough for your dog to comprehend.
- Stand a few feet away from your dog. Toss a treat in front of it but make sure you do so a bit far from the dog so that it has to move forward to reach it.
- As soon as you see your dog reaching towards the food, use the release word so that it will associate the act of moving forward from a stationary position with the release word and the treat.
- Repeat the exercise until your dog no longer requires a treat for it to move forward.
Teaching the “stay” command:
- It is important for you to be able to teach the “sit” or “down” commands first before teaching the dog to stay. After you have done so, you will be able to teach it the “stay” command.
- Put the dog in a “sit” or “down” position and give it a treat after it does so. Wait a few moments before giving it another treat so that it will begin to associate the action of waiting in place with a reward.
- Do the same exercise repeatedly while also increasing the time between the first and the second treats.
- Once your dog could already wait for an extended period of time, try to put some distance between you and it after you tell it to sit or lie down. Take one or two step backs and observe what it will do. If it follows you without prompting it to come, it is not yet ready for this step. But if it stays still and is patient enough for you to give it a treat, your dog is ready.
- After creating some distance between you and the dog, give it a treat while using the release word. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog the more you do this exercise. You should also increase the time the dog needs to wait for it to get its reward after it is allowed to move once again.
- When you notice that your dog can already stay, that is the time you use the “stay” command so that it will now associate the word with the action. Train your dogs in increments in terms of distance and time spent waiting. Gradually decrease the frequency of rewards as well. Sooner or later, you will notice that your dog will now stay in place and move after it is released all without you giving it a treat.
Four tricks every dog should know
For those who want their dogs to learn neat tricks that will make them the life of the party, here are some of the basics that your dogs can learn to make them more entertaining pets:
The rollover trick should be an offshoot of the “down” command. You won’t be able to teach this trick without your dog mastering “down” first. That’s why you must teach your dog the “down” command because it opens up many different tricks that your dog can do.
Here is how you can teach your dog to roll over:
- Have it in a “down” position by commanding it to lie down on the floor. This is where it all starts.
- As your dog is down flat on the floor, use a treat, and slowly use the trick as a lure by moving it behind your dog’s head while it is in a “down” position.
- The tricky part here is making your dog turn its head without standing up. It should still remain in a “down” position while it is following the treat with its head.
- Your dog will eventually reach its head back to try to sniff the treat. When it does, use your other hand to gently roll your dog over. After doing so, reward the behavior with a treat.
- Repeat the process over and over again. This time, however, use the “rollover” command while you are rolling the dog over so that it will associate the command with the movement.
- It will take time but your dog will eventually roll over on its own without you rolling its body over. Steadily decrease the frequency of using a treat but make sure you are still moving your hand behind its head to make the dog think you have a treat.
- From there, you can also gradually remove the hand movement from the equation until your dog will eventually learn to roll over from the “down” position simply after hearing your command.
- Shake hands
They shake hands trick is one of the easiest tricks you can teach your dog. However, you must understand that you also need to have your dog master the “sit” command first before teaching this trick.
- Here is how you teach your dog how to shake hands:
- Command your dog into a “sit” position. This is why the “sit” command is one of the most basic commands you need to teach your dog.
- Use a treat and lower the treat down towards one of your dog’s paws near the ground. The dog will try to reach for the treat using its paw by raising it. When it does so, give it the treat and make sure to praise it after.
- Do the same steps over and over again but make sure that you are gradually raising the distance between the paw and the treat so that the dog will have to reach higher with its paw to reach the treat. The goal here is to have your dog raise its paw up to the height of its chest.
- At the same time, as the dog raises its paw, always use the “shake hands” command to make sure the dog associates those words with its actions. Repeat the entire process until you no longer have to use a treat. However, always use your hand in this trick because the goal is for your dog to reach your hand with its paw and “shake it”.
Teaching your dog to stand is somewhat the opposite of teaching it to sit down because, instead of having it try to reach for the treat by sitting down, you are now asking it to stand on its hind legs so that it can reach the treat. This should be one of the easier tricks to teach your dog.
- When you are teaching the dog how to stand, the goal here is to use a treat and move it way above its head so that it will be forced to stand on its hind legs to reach the treat.
- The moment the dog stands up, use the “stand” command to associate it with the movement. Give the dog the treat after it does so.
- Repeat the movement but gradually take away the treat. Still, make it believe that you have a treat in your hand while raising your hand above its head as you are commanding it to stand.
- From there, you can also gradually remove the hand movement from the equation until your dog will begin to stand with just a simple command.
Fetch is a playtime trick that comes naturally to many dogs because of their instincts as retrievers, but it can be pretty difficult to teach this to other dog breeds that are lazier and less playful. Still, it is a pretty neat trick to teach your dog, especially if you have an enthusiastic breed about playtime.
- Begin the exercise by giving it a favorite chew toy that it likes to play with. Your dog will begin to learn how to love that toy and will want to chase it around if you throw it.
- Try throwing the toy to see if your dog will chase it. There will be some dogs that are naturally inclined to chase things that you throw. Meanwhile, other breeds don’t necessarily do so. It really depends on the dog.
- Normally, dogs won’t give the toy back to you. That’s why it is important for you to give it a reason to give the toy back. Try coming closer to it and giving it a treat. It will drop the toy and will eat the treat again. Get the toy or the object as soon as your dog drops it.
- Repeat the training but make sure you create more distance between you and your dog when you are about to give it its treat. It will soon learn that it has to come closer to you and drop the toy near you or even give it to you for it to get rewarded by a treat.
- In time, your dog will begin to fetch the object or toy that you threw without even you giving it a treat after but make sure you still reward it after a hard day’s work.
What order should you teach your dog commands?
When you want to teach your dog basic commands, the first command is the “come” command because of how important it is for your dog to learn how to come to you whenever you call for it.
From there, it basically is up to you depending on what you feel is more important. Teaching your dog to sit or lie down can be interchangeable because they are basically the same. But it might be easier for you to teach your dog to sit.
And because the “stay” command is a more advanced command that can be learned only after your dog has mastered “sit” and “down,” it should be one of the final commands to teach to your dog. However, it is still very much important, especially when compared to the other more advanced commands.
What is the easiest trick to teach a dog?
Arguably the easiest trick to teach a dog is to stand. All you have to do is to hold a treat up, and your dog will basically do everything in its power to stand up and try to reach for the treat. From there, your job is to gradually take the treat away from the equation until your dog masters the art of standing up with just as simple a command word.