Obedience Commands

General obedience training programs typically include the following common commands.

Sit

Your dog should be able to sit on command while in front of you, at your side, at a distance, from a down and while in motion.

Sit demonstration:

Training the sit command for puppies:

Training the sit command from a down for puppies:

Hand signal for sit:

The hand signal is a scooping motion with the right hand (think “lift that chin up”).

Down

Your dog should be able to lie down on command while in front of you, at your side, at a distance, in motion and on recall.

Down demonstration:

Training the down for puppies:

You can train the down command with the lure and reward technique. This is a multi-step process that will probably take a number sessions. Each of these steps has an interim goal, which are demonstrated here with Eva at 15 weeks of age:

The first step is the full lure. Say “down” and give the proper hand signal. Bring a treat to your dog’s nose, then down to the toes and then away from your dog along the ground. Wait until your dog is lying down before releasing the treat. Repeat until your dog readily follows your luring hand into a down position.

The next step is to reduce the lure until you are bringing the treat straight down to the ground in front of your dog.

The third step transitions away from a lure to a downward point. Trick your dog into following your empty hand to the ground, as if it had the treat. When your dog is lying down, quickly reward him/her with a treat from the other hand. Repeat this until easy. When your dog stops expecting food from your luring hand, start to point downwards instead of faking as if you had a treat in that hand. You should now have a dog that lies down when you say down, give the hand signal and then point all the way to the ground.

The final step is to fade out that point down. Incrementally reduce how close to the ground you point, until you cease that gesture all together.

Hand signal for down:

The hand signal for down a raised right hand, palm forward (think “hello”). When your dog is in the heel position, at your left side, use your left hand instead with your palm facing down and arm perpendicular to the ground (as in the above demonstration video with Otto).

Heel

The heel command requires the dog to walk at our left side, matching our pace and direction. We should not bump into our dog when we turn or make a U-turn or an about-face. When we stop, our dog should automatically sit and stay.

Heel demonstration and training:

Hand signal for the heel command:

The hand signal for Heel is a sweeping gesture with the left hand. An alternative is to pat your left thigh.

Crate

The crate command directs our dog to enter his/her crate (kennel) and remain until released.

Crate demonstration:

Recall

Recall training (the come command) is the most important of all behaviors to train. Our dog should promptly turn, come and sit directly in front of us.

Recall training for puppies:

Hand signal for recall (come command):

The hand signal for the recall command is the motion of bringing an outstretched right hand flat against trunk.

Place

When we command our dog “place” we direct him/her to go to a mat, bed or some designated spot. The dog is allowed to stand, sit or lie down as he/she please, but is not permitted to leave.

Place command training for puppies:

Place demonstration and training:

Hup

Similar to the place command, the hup directs our dog to jump onto an object we point to and not to come off. It is often easier for a dog to hup and stay on top of a park bench then the sit and stay on the grass.

Demonstration and training the hup:

Finish

The finish command requires our dog to walk around our right side to a seated heel on our left.

Demonstration and training the finish:

Going directly to the heel position

Similar to the finish command, we can tell our dog to heel directly after recall, but without moving around our right side. The action is spinning motion as our dog swings it rear outward to the left and assumes a heel position. This has the added benefit of showing our dog how to get into the heel position from anywhere.

Demonstration and training of the direct to heel:

Demonstration of Otto switching between positions: