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Canine Training: Dog Commands

Updated on October 26, 2012

Dog Training Tips

Most dog owners are often interested in dog training advice and dog training tips. A dog that’s well trained and easy to manage makes a wonderful pet, and both human and canine are happier in the relationship. I’ve done some formal canine training, but dog training doesn’t always have to be formal. Canines are smarter than we think they are, and they can often pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues, even when they haven’t been specifically trained to do so. And you don't have to be a trained dog whisperer to be successful, either. I’ve found that it’s very important to talk to your dogs. Think that sounds crazy? If it is, I definitely need a straight jacket and a rubber room, as I talk to my dogs all the time! I’m sometimes amazed at the amount of dog training my furkids have acquired just by my speaking to them. Continue reading for some dog training tips that have worked for us.

My big boys know lots of dog commands.
My big boys know lots of dog commands.

Dog Commands - Be a Dog Whisperer

You can become somewhat of a dog whisperer! Think back to how your kids learned to talk. They gained words by association. For example, perhaps you said bottle whenever you gave the child a bottle. Eventually, the child made the association between the word and the object. Canines are perfectly capable of making these same kinds of associations, especially if you’re consistent with your terminology. Of course, dogs aren’t as smart as human children, so you need to keep the terms short and to the point. I’ve been amazed at what my two Great Danes have picked up on their own! Really, the only two commands I taught them with formal dog training were “sit” and “no.” Now, however, they have a pretty large vocabulary, which certainly makes managing our two huge boys a heck of a lot easier.

Dog commands usually work best if they're short and clear. Dogs also pick up on the inflection in your voice, so pay attention to how you issue verbal cues. Sometimes I combine a verbal command with a hand gesture. For example, when I say "go" to one of my canines, I point in the direction I want them to go. When I say "stay," I hold my hand up, with my palm facing the dog, much like the gesture a traffic officer might use to stop a vehicle. When both dogs are together, but when I'm only speaking to one, I begin the command with the dog's name. Some trainers don't like this method, but it has worked very well for me.

Dog training with Hamlet has always been super easy.
Dog training with Hamlet has always been super easy.

Dog Training Commands

Below are some of the commands my dogs have learned “on their own.” Of course, all dogs aren’t equal in intelligence, and smarter dogs will catch on more quickly. My fawn Dane, Hamlet, is super smart. He learned words and commands very quickly. Hubby’s Dane, Grendel, isn’t stupid, but he’s not as smart as Hamlet, so it usually takes him a little longer to make associations. That said, I fully believe that these dog training methods would work for just about any dog. Both of my boys know:





Lie down

Go to bed

Go to sleep (Hamlet sleeps with me, and he likes to do some personal grooming when he first gets in bed. Once I’ve endured enough of it, I say, “Go to sleep,” and he stops grooming and puts his big head on the pillow.)


Go (They’ll go in the direction I point.)

Bath (They hate getting a bath, and just a mention of the b-word will make them run for cover.)


Get out of the street






Good boy

Bad dog

Water (They love drinking water from the tap in the bathroom sink.)

Move over! (This is a very important one when you're sleeping with a Dane or two!)

The word they know and love best of all is “cookie.” We use this word for dog treats and for anything edible, other than their regular dog food. This might include peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, candy, jerky, commercial dog treats, or well…actual cookies. The dogs can be asleep in the back of the house, but if I’m in the kitchen and just whisper the c-word, they come running on the double!

Hamlet knows "Go to sleep."
Hamlet knows "Go to sleep."
Dog commands like "Go lie down" are extremely useful when we have guests in our home!
Dog commands like "Go lie down" are extremely useful when we have guests in our home!

Try this dog training advice

If you haven’t tried dog training on your own, try the dog training commands and the word-associations I’ve suggested. Just about everyone who meets our pooches remarks on how well behaved they are. When we have guests over, for example, we’ll usually invite the dogs in the living room to say hello to the visitors. Then I’ll tell the dogs to go lie down, and they go straight into the office to lie on their couch. Dog training doesn’t have to be formal, and it doesn’t have to be done by a professional. Begin using these dog training methods as soon as possible, starting from the time your furkids are puppies. I think you’ll be pleased with the results! You might be interested in the dog training videos I’ve included.

Dog training videos:


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