Top 10 Basic Dog Training Commands

Basic Cue Words Every Dog Should Know

A young woman teaches her young Bernese Mountain Dog how to sit while in a forest.
Paul Biris / Getty Images

While training your dog, it's important to spend time teaching your dog certain actions. These are called "cues" or "commands." There are several basic dog training commands that every dog should know. These cues can help you keep your dog under control and give your dog a sense of structure and order. They can also help you manage a variety of common behavior problems. In some cases, a well-placed command word may even save your dog's life.

  • 01 of 10


    Person using the command to have a husky look at her.

    Peopleimages / Getty Images

    One of the most important aspects of training a dog is making sure his attention stays on you. Teach your dog the look or watch me command so you can always get your dog to focus on you, no matter what distractions are present. Use of this cue comes in very handy when teaching your dog other commands.

  • 02 of 10

    Emergency Recall

    Woman on a beach teaching a dog to come while both are near the ocean.
    Kohei Hara / Getty Images

    The emergency recall ensures that your dog will come running when you call it in any and every situation. It is used only in emergencies, such as when your dog is about to run in front of a moving car. Training a dog to come in an emergency may save its life. This is a different command than the simple recall, often called the come command.

  • 03 of 10


    Mongrel dog running toward a woman crouching on grass holding a lead.
    Gerard Brown / Getty Images

    The come command, or recall, can save you from a lot of aggravation and frustration. You can use it to get your dog to come if it slips out of its leash, to get it to come quickly inside from the yard, or to come over for some cuddle or playtime. Be sure to only ask your dog to come to you for good things. This way, it will always be happy to come on cue. Practice this frequently throughout your dog's life, rewarding compliance with praise and treats when available.

  • 04 of 10

    With Me

    Woman walking down a road with a dog on a leash.
    Maskot / Getty Images

    With me is a dog training command used to keep your dog from pulling on the leash. This means your dog is walking in pace with you in a relaxed manner. A loose leash makes walking your dog much more fun and makes it more likely you'll get your dog out for the ​exercise and socialization it needs. You can use any word or phrase to mean the same thing. Instead of saying "with me," some people use the command "easy" or "no pull." Choose something easy for you to remember and simple enough for your dog to understand.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Leave It

    Jack Russell with paws on the table that has a pile of sausages on it.
    Michael Blann / Getty Images

    Leave it is the basic dog training command you use to tell your dog not to pick up something it's approaching. This command can prevent it from eating something harmful or help you to save your favorite pair of shoes from being chewed. This cue is best used when you spot something that may interest your dog, but your dog has not picked it up yet. If your dog picks up something before you can say "leave it," then the command drop it can protect it from accidentally ingesting dangerous things.

  • 06 of 10

    Drop It

    Snarling puppy tugs in play with owner's sandal.
    Jade and Bertrand Maitre / Getty Images

    Training a dog to drop it means that it will let go of anything it's picked up in its mouth. Like the leave it command, drop it can save your dog from ingesting anything that is poisonous or may cause injury. This command can also keep it from chewing up your possessions as long as you are around to catch it. Practice this frequently, replacing what you took from your dog's mouth with something very rewarding, such as a toy or delicious treat.

  • 07 of 10


    Person training a dog outside to sit.
    Valentin Casarsa / Getty Images

    The sit command is usually the first command people teach their dogs. It seems pretty basic, but it can play an important role in managing unwanted behaviors. For instance, a dog can't sit and jump at the same time. By training your dog to sit, you've begun the work needed to prevent it from jumping. Also, training your dog to sit can help it settle down and relax when needed.

  • 08 of 10

    Lie Down

    Shar Pei dog lying down on a wooden floor.
    Tariq Dajani / Getty Images

    The lie down command is important for several reasons. First, just like the sit command, it's incompatible with certain unwanted behaviors. A dog can't jump up and surf counters while it's lying down. By teaching it to lie down on command, you have a tool to manage several common behavior problems. It also promotes relaxation for excited dogs.

    Lie down serves as the building block for some other behaviors. For instance, before you can train a dog to roll over or go to its place, it needs to know how to lie down.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10


    German shepherd dog in down position.

    CRYSTAL ROLFE / Flickr / All Rights Reserved

    The stay command is useful in many situations. It can keep your dog out from under your feet, or it can save its life by preventing it from running into dangerous situations. If your dog knows how to stay on cue, you can manage its behavior well in public and private. It may also allow you to let your dog off the leash in certain situations when it must stay still.

  • 10 of 10


    Dog standing in the trunk of a vehicle with a blue blanket.

    Hedda Gjerpen / Getty Images

    When you give your dog the wait command, you're telling it to not move forward until you give it the okay. It is perfect for keeping a dog from bolting out of a door, its crate, or the car. Wait tells your dog something it wants is coming, but it has to be still to get it. This cue is similar to stay but gives your dog a little more freedom while waiting.