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How to teach a dog to commands? [COAPE Behaviorist Ewa Jaworska

How to teach a dog to commands?

Commands, also called commands, they are very useful tools when we want to communicate with our dog in a fun and understandable way. There are many commands, some are more useful, some are less, but learning the commands well and calmly has so many advantages!

  • How to teach a dog to commands?
  • Useful commands
  • Commands and tricks
  • What method to work with the dog?
  • Speak straight
  • Working conditions
  • Accessories
  • The best time to learn commands
  • What if we're not good at learning commands?
  • Where can you learn commands?

How to teach a dog to commands?

First of all, thanks to the commands, the dog understands what we expect from him. We do not speak the same language, but we can create a substitute for a common language thanks to commands. This will definitely facilitate communication!

Secondly, we spend time working with the dog, so we build a better bond with it. Fortunately, we understand better and better that a dog's happiness is not enough with a full bowl of dog food and just a walk around the house. The more attention, love and time we put into this relationship, the more wonderful the bond we can establish.

In addition, the exercises themselves teach the dog to focus attention, not to be distracted, and allow the dog to better control his emotions.

Work and study, as in the case of humans, also stimulate the brain, which is very important at every stage of a dog's development. The dog needs not only physical movement, but also intellectual stimulation, thanks to which its brain ages more slowly and at a young age it has a better chance of development.

Working on commands for dogs with behavioral problems is also of great importance. A dog that is hyperactive and has trouble concentrating can calm down and focus by exercising. In turn, a doggy who is withdrawn and fearful can, thanks to successful work, increase self-confidence.

Useful commands

Useful commands

As I mentioned, the commands are countless. The most basic and useful ones I would definitely include:

  • sit down - this is a natural activity for a dog,
  • attention - focus on the caregiver,
  • to me - summoning the dog,
  • lie down / lie down,
  • stay - when we don't want the dog to follow us,
  • to the place - the dog goes to his bed,
  • fe / leave - useful when it catches something unwanted in its mouth,
  • stand - when, for example, the dog wants to run into the street,
  • walking by the leg / keeping watch - especially useful when the dog has a tendency to run uncontrollably in all directions.

Commands and tricks

Commands and tricks

It is also worth distinguishing useful commands, which will be useful for us in everyday life, from tricks, which are also fun, because they deepen our bond with the dog and give a lot of joy, but are not necessary. There are dozens of tricks - a dog can:

  • give your paw,
  • make a circle,
  • high five,
  • walk backwards,
  • bring the toy of your choice,
  • bow upon request,
  • jump over the hoop,
  • beat the slalom.

Caregivers who like to work with a dog and have already mastered all the basic commands, often start tricks and additional games with the dog. If our dog likes to work and it makes him happy, it is a great way to spend time together. And what a cool in the company when our dog does some nice trick and we can boast of what a smart four-legged we have!

What method to work with the dog?

What method to work with the dog?

During my coaching work, I use only positive training methods. What does this mean in practice? With the help of rewards, praise and play, I strengthen the dog's desired behavior. Thanks to this, the dog quickly realizes that it pays for him to behave this way. Such training of the dog is fun for both the pet and the guardian.

If, on the other hand, we use aversive methods, that is, we shout at the dog, pull it with the help of spikes, when it fails the task, the dog loses confidence in us and works under increasing stress.

Even if he obeys the command, he does so out of fear and does not get any pleasure from it. He does this to avoid punishment. If things do not go well or the dog does not understand what we are talking about, he may become depressed, become very frustrated or become helpless.

But most of all, I do not work with such methods, because they are inhumane and assume that the dog is to submit to us out of fear, meanwhile, I believe that the dog will be much more willing to do the work for us if he has fun with it. Working with a dog should be fun and rewarding for all parties!

Speak straight

Proper communication with your dog should be first and foremost

simple and legible for the dog.

If you want your dog to come back when called, agree on one word with the whole family and use that word when training your dog to recall. The dog must understand that a given word represents a certain behavior. We often make the dog feel confused and when, for example, we want him to come to us, we call him by name or we say "come ", "come up ", "come back ", and meanwhile the word for which our dog it is conditioned during exercises, it is "to me", so it is difficult for him to react to others.

Therefore, let's be consistent.

The same is true of our body language and praise. Let us try to control them. Show the dog simple gestures and signals and do not flood him with a stream of words, because he may not be able to pick out our intentions.

Working conditions

In order for the learning of commands to be effective, it is worth providing yourself and the dog with good working conditions. Exercise when the dog is relaxed, his basic needs are met, he is not frustrated or over-energized, because then he will have problems with concentration.

Especially at the beginning, let's choose a quiet place where there won't be much distraction and the dog will be able to focus on us. The more stimuli, sounds and new sensations, the less interesting we will be for him. That's why it's worth starting in an apartment, then we can go out to the patio or a quiet square, and then we go to the park, where there are many dogs and people.

At the beginning, we always practice the simplest and most basic version of a given command, then we only introduce additional distractions, difficulties, new places or people. If the dog starts to get lost, it means that we have to go back to the previous stage and perpetuate the command.

We should also be careful not to tire the dog with our ambitions and not to overdo it with exercises. It is better to exercise more often and less than longer but less often!


For the exercises to be effective, let's prepare a few things that will help us. Let's choose the flavors our dog loves. If he has allergies or digestive problems, we can also use his favorite food and spend a small part of the meal in this form. Remember not to overfeed your dog with flavors!

If we exercise outside and the square is not fenced, then for the sake of safety we should fasten the pooch to a long rope or a leash so that he can move freely, but so that he does not run away far away.

We can also use play as a reward, so let's have the dog's favorite toy in stock. It is important that the toy is attractive and he does not get bored earlier, then he will be more willing to exercise, since there is such an attractive prize on the horizon!

The best time to learn commands

The best time to learn commands

You wonder when is the best time to learn? There is really no bad time! If we have a puppy who is already comfortable in our home, we can slowly practice the simplest things. Up to 3-4 months of age, puppies have an extremely receptive mind and learn quickly. But since they are little ones, they also get distracted and bored quickly, so sessions should be kept short.

If we have a pooch from the shelter, let's also give him time to acclimatize and start exercising. If the dog has no behavioral problems and is in good health, he can get a lot of satisfaction from exercising.

What about senior dogs? There is a saying that "the old dog doesn't learn new tricks ", but is he??

It is known that this is a metaphor, but if we take this phrase literally, it turns out that it is far from the truth! Canine seniors should also work mentally, because it's good for their health and brain. Let's adapt the work mode to the canine grandfather, i.e. be patient (such dogs sometimes need more repetitions), give the dog time, and it will surely surprise us positively!

What if we're not good at learning commands?

What if we don't do it?

First of all, let's not stress and look for the cause of failure.

Perhaps the dog is upset because something happened before, or he only thinks that he was not on a walk, but must follow the need? Or maybe he is in a place where other dogs are running in the distance and he would like to join them, or on the contrary, he is afraid of them? Or maybe he came to us straight from the shelter and first he needs to sleep off his stress and calm down? Or maybe the command learning technique we chose is not for our dog?

There can be many reasons, so sometimes videos and tutorials are not enough and it is worth trusting professional trainers and behaviorists.

Where can you learn commands?

Where can you learn commands?

Many people try to teach their dog commands from videos or books, and they often succeed. But it is also worth taking advantage of professional support and, for example, signing up for a dog kindergarten (if we have a puppy) or for individual or group obedience training, which trains with positive methods. For dogs that have a lot of energy or love working with their owners, there are also other cool solutions - such as learning dog sports such as agility or nosework.

There are more and more possibilities, and the time spent working with the dog will not be wasted!

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