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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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    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 6 years ago from Philippines

      Habee I totally agree with you that talking with dogs is also a way to train them. Talking to Peso and PM became very natural to me, thou some said dogs don't understand words we said, I refused to believe them because how can they explain it when Peso reacts to me as if he understands what I was telling him.. just lately Peso is like this after his meal, he kinda asks always for after meal treat and he just poked and whined to call my attention, I will just say, go get it yourself, and he will go to the boxes of treat on the center table...he really indeed makes me crazier..

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Donna, thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      drbj, I'm sure you already know that most canine experts place poodles near the top of the "smartest dog breeds" list. Danes are usually placed near the middle, but every dog is an invidual. I swear, Hamlet is the smartest dog I've ever known!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Angela, love the new pic! I so agree with your comment. Dogs need a lot of human interraction.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

      Another excellent hub and I can see you are a wonderful teacher whether working with pets or humans! I loved them all...our big boy that recently passed away knew a lot of words but puppy treat would always bringing him running! Voted up, useful and shared.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent dog training advice, Holle, I can tell you speak dog language. I had two poodles years ago and I swear they understood EVERY word I said. Trust me. I used to go into another room to answer my phone so they would not hear my responses to conversations. I do miss them. Their names: Mimi Rouge the First, and Mimi Rouge the Second.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 6 years ago from Central Texas

      Great HUB Holle -- I've had friends remark that my dogs are always "so smart" -- no, my dogs have always lived with me as a member of the family and as you said, they pickup on everything and definitely learn key words whether taught or not. Dogs on a chain in the backyard -- or just in the backyard itself -- are deprived of day-to-day, constant human interaction and their habits and intellect reflect that. Loved the pics of your Danes. I had Harlequin named Molly years ago and she was a treasure. Great HUB and super advice! Thanks, Sis

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Mary, I thing dog training is even more important for large and giant breeds. An unmanageable Great Dane could be a nightmare!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Moon, thanks so much for your comment. Yes, my dogs seem to know when I'm sad. Hamlet will come up to me and lie his head on my lap.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Susan! Don't you often wonder what your dog is thinking?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Mason!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 6 years ago from Florida

      You know, I love dogs but they do have to be well behaved in order to enjoy their company. You have some good advice here. The one thing I could never teach Baby is to come. She comes when she wants to; otherwise, forget it. I've tried, but she's hopeless. I keep her on a leash, cause I know if she has the opportunity, she will run! She does have a nice fenced in yard, though.

    • Moon Lightened profile image

      Moon Lightened 6 years ago from Delhi, India

      What a wonderful hub! I agree with you 100% I did this with my dogs too. My last dog, a feisty little pomeranian, was so attuned to me she knew my moods. If I was down she would lay quietly against me. If I was in a great mood she was ready to play. It's that pack instinct that drives them to bond so deeply. Dogs are definitely more astute to we humans than we give them credit for. Loved it!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Dogs are smarter than most people give them credit for. My male gets tired of waiting for me to go to bed so he will come up to me and give me a bark. I say to him "Go ahead Bruce, I'll be up in a minute" and off he goes upstairs.

      Enjoyed reading your hub and always love seeing the pics of your dogs.

    • mason1966 profile image

      mason1966 6 years ago from Louisville, ky

      Like this hub and love your big boys. Beautiful.