Useful and Necessary Commands
I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of training my dogs need. Generally when this happens I make a list and start ticking them off.
What are the most useful commands to teach a dog? Which ones are absolutely necessary in your opinion?
I am finding that "Off" or "Leave it" is one of the most valuable. Along those same lines so is "Drop it". I think I taught this one before they even were reliable at sitting. Off is also useful when they are thinking about chasing a cat or a bicycle or a jogger..so helps with reactive dogs.
A good down/sit stay even at a distance would be extremely useful. I find it difficult to get a reliable stay from a distance. I'm still working at that one. My oldest dog will do a down stay for up to 2 minutes while I walk away quite a distance or go in another room, but once she starts looking around too much you can see her thinking "Pfft..forget this!"
"Come" obviously is a good one. By extension, I think Come..sit and let me grab your collar is probably a better version. When we are walking off leash, I don't usually tell them to come, I just say their names or give a short whistle if they are getting too far away. I think of come as meaning, come here, sit and let me grab your collar and not just ..come check in with me.
I also have an "emergency come" word. This means drop everything and come as fast as possible. I do like to teach this one when they are off leash and more inclined to be running full blast toward me. I have had occasion to use the emergency come when my dog was running toward a busy road..I was never more thankful for her obedience. She thought it was a great game and I about had a heart attack.
I have been having some issues with my dog being over excited and nipping at hands/toes of people who come to visit. Last night I started paring the "Go Mat" or go to your bed command with the sound of the doorbell. She can't jump up and nip people when they come in the door if she is sitting across the living room on her mat. Of course a good sit/down stay is required if this is to be useful when people more exciting than me are coming in the door. I need to find an app with a good doorbell sound because I find this one hard to do since i need to be outside ringing the bell and inside with dogs at the same time to capture the instant they get to the mat.
Ok here's the short list of what my dogs currently know or are "in progress":
1. Off/Leave it
2. Drop it
7. Go mat
8. Come this instant as fast as you can (Emergency Come)
9. Easy or gentle (I use this when they are starting to think about pulling on leash and they ease up)
11. Speak/Quiet. They learned speak REALLY quickly. Quiet is not as popular.
12. Able to calm down quickly when excited. Not sure if there is a word for this I just use a hand signal, body language.
13. Heel. I don't need a perfect heel, just a come close is fine for me.
Things I would LIKE them to do:
1. Doorbell rings = go to mat and stay there until i say OK.
2. Quiet as soon as I say it. With no little grumbling woofs afterwards..
3. Feet on ground when greeting.
4. Ignore cats.
5. Watch me.
If you have a bomb proof recall, you don't need any other command. You can call the dog to you and take the collar/harness put it on a leash and control the situation indefinitely.
Next to that I would say, " Look at me (focus)" When trained properly, your dog will leave everything to look at you and hold your gaze until the release command.
Everything else I would say is personal preference to what you want out of your dog.
A dog only needs two:
Heel can be used for sit, which they could do in the heel position if trained properly, and heel can also be used as a recall for the dog to come back and sit beside you. Leave it can be used for excessive barking, drop the toy, etc.
My last dog, who was 11 years old when she passed away knew a lot of commands:
Stay (means I'm coming back, so don't move until I come back)
Wait (means I'm going to give you another command soon like Come)
Stop (means stop and stand there and don't move...would listen from a mile away)
Off (drop toy, leave food)
Ouch/Ow (means Off, lay down, and stay)
If I screamed (like pain scream) she would react same as "Ouch/Ow", practiced with other people screaming too.
In (into tunnel, kennel, etc)
Up (onto a chair, vet's table, up a ramp, over a jump, etc)
Go away (I'm done petting you now)
On your bed
Watch (watch me)
Toy? (want to play?)
Get your toy
Be nice (take treat gently, only used this when she was young)
Bang! (play dead)
Woof (small woof)
Speak (big bark)
Sit Ghey (a Pit Bull sitting "pretty" looks pretty ghey...yes "ghey" is a word)
Roll (roll over)
Roxy - Feb 2005 - 75 lb American Staffordshire Terrier (adopted Jul 2011)
Peewee - Jan 2006 - 8 lb Chihuahua (adopted May 2009)
Myka - Nov 1998 to Jan 2010 - 85 lb American Pit Bull Terrier cross
Lacy - Sept 1992 to July 2003 - 18 lb Reg Shetland Sheepdog
I prefer using hand signals over voice. They seem to get it better. Except my husband insists on using different signals than I do...but they seem to still get his commands.
They also are starting to get wait and back which I use by the door. They tend to crowd me a bit.
I have to be more consistent about them not getting on the couch and mauling people. I am aware when I sit down that I'm going to get a lapfull of dogs and to keep my mouth closed but guests tend to be surprised.
always teach voice and hand together, the one I think is the best to learn is "stop"...........brina has gone after deer when they've crossed the busy highway, and I yell "stop" and she freezes....thank god.