Training a dog takes time and patience. Dog training isn't a one and done activity, it's an ongoing process. In my experience, teaching your dog 3 of the most important dog training commands should be at the top of every dog owners list.  

I consider these 3 basic obedience commands for dogs to be more than training, they're an important part of keeping a dog safe throughout her life!

3 of The Most Important Dog Training Commands
3 of The Most Important Dog Training Commands


If you're wondering what kind of training dogs need, there are many obedience commands you should teach your dog. However, I'm not exaggerating when I say that any one of these 3 basic dog training commands could potentially save your dog's life one day!  When I'm asked about dog training tips, I emphasize that these are 3 training commands you should teach your dog almost immediately.


I'm starting with training a dog to Stay because it's one of the most basic dog commands and is fairly easy for a dog to learn. The Stay command has so many important uses.  When your dog can reliably stay put when you give the command it will help avoid:

🐾 Door dashing from the house when you open the door to get the mail, greet guests, or leave the house.  A dog can easily run into the road and be hit by a car, be attacked by another dog or other animal, or run away in pursuit of a cat or squirrel and become lost. 

🐾 Jumping out of the car when you take the dog to the Vet or go out for a fun adventure. Your dog could jump from the car right into traffic or in front of a car trying to park next to you. The dog could take off and run into a dangerous area such as woods, a construction area, or fast moving water.

We re-enforce the Stay command with our dogs every day. Icy and Phoebe must Sit and Stay each morning and evening at mealtime. We put them in a Sit/Stay, place their bowls on the floor, then give the OK or Take It command.  

We go on many adventures with our dogs, and every time we open the car door we tell them to Stay. Every single time. They know not to jump out of the car until we give them the OK.

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3 of the Most Important Dog Training Commands

Teaching the Stay command is easy using some treats or healthy snacks like carrots:

✦ Put your dog into a Sit position, and stand or sit in front of her. Place your hand in front of her nose and say Stay!

✦ If she doesn't move after a few seconds, reward her with a treat and praise her.  If she doesn't stay in place though, don't give the reward. Say No, or Ah, Ah! and try again. Use a calm voice, never get annoyed or frustrated. It can take a few tries.

✦ As you repeat the Stay exercise, increase the length of time of the stay before you give the treat.
✦ Gradually increase the distance between you and the dog as you ask her to Stay.  As you increase the distance, your dog should stay put until you return to her and reward her patience. Give the treat while she's still in the Stay position. Re-enforce the Stay command frequently in your daily life with your dog!


Come When Called is another basic dog training command. It's one of the first and most important things you'll teach your puppy or newly adopted dog. 

But think about how many times a day you call your dog to come to you - about a million, right?  After awhile your basic Come When Called command loses it's sense of urgency for your dog and she may start to ignore it.  The typical Come training command for dogs may not be strong enough in dangerous or urgent scenarios like these:

🐾 Off leash at the dog park, on a hike, or at the beach, when your dog is simply having way too much fun to listen to your command to come back!

🐾 If your dog runs out the door to chase a cat. She may tune you out, and that could end very badly.

🐾 If your dog encounters an unfriendly off leash dog or a wild animal like a skunk.

🐾 If you see your dog getting too close to something dangerous like traffic, someone's baby, or a patch of poison ivy.

There's the Come When Called command you use every day, and then there is a more urgent Emergency Recall command. You don't want to call your dog to you all day every day with extreme urgency, as your dog may start tuning you out. But for those times when it's crucial for your dog to STOP what they're doing and come running to you immediately, it's a critical command to teach a dog.

The Steps To Teach Your Dog an Emergency Recall are easy and shouldn't take much time to train your dog to do.  You'll pick a word or phrase, as well as a special, unique treat to go with it. This signals to your dog that this is no ordinary recall.  Read about our Emergency Recall training for Icy and Phoebe and see the steps I used to teach my dogs an emergency recall.

You won't need to use an emergency recall all that frequently (hopefully!), but practice it fairly regularly to make sure your dog doesn't forget it.  After more than 10 years, I still re-enforce the emergency recall with my dogs every now and then, to make certain they always remember it when needed.


The Leave It command can save your sanity if you have a multi-pet household like we do. It can also help keep your dog safe when they encounter unwanted animals or objects. This can be during walks, in the home, virtually anywhere your dog goes. 

We use the Leave It command constantly, especially with Icy. She is so curious, and she's fast. In seconds she can get herself into anything! 

The Leave It command is helpful in many situations:

🐾 Prevent your dog from sticking her nose into dead animals (road kill) or animal feces (they can have disease or bacteria) encountered on walks or when you're out exploring.

🐾 If dogs find food in the street or sidewalk. You never know what some people might drop or throw out a car window!
🐾 If your dog starts lunging at another dog or animal during a walk and you need him to leave that animal alone. 

🐾 If the dog tries to drink standing water, which could contain toxic algae or other contaminants. Same thing if they try to drink ocean, lake, or river water you know will be unhealthy.  

When Icy was a puppy we were on a walk, when next thing you know she had grabbed an apple core she found on the sidewalk into her mouth! She began choking and my husband had to reach into her mouth and pry the apple core out! Thank goodness he was able to get it out before she choked.  Now we keep our eyes peeled and use the Leave It command as soon as we see anything along walks or outings that might pose a hazard.

My post on how the Leave It command restored harmony in our house has the steps we used to teach our dogs the Leave It command. It also shares the story about how the Leave It command training helped stop Icy from chasing our poor cat Maggie! 

The key to making these commands second nature for your dog to obey is consistency and re-enforcement.  Every member of the household needs to be on board with helping your dog learn these important obedience commands and should help re-enforce them with the dog.

Not only are these three of the most important dog commands for training, I consider them some of the most important dog safety tips I can share.


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3 of the Most Important Dog Training Commands

As dog parents, we want our dogs to have good manners and learn basic obedience commands. More importantly though, we want to keep our dogs Safe and Healthy!  These three dog training commands help us do that.

I re-enforce all three of these commands with Icy and Phoebe regularly in our daily lives. This helps ensure not only that they remember each command and it's meaning, but it ensures they respond to these commands reliably even when something extremely enticing is grabbing their attention. 

What dog training tips do you consider to be most important for your dog?  Post a comment and share! We love hearing from our readers.

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You can find more helpful dog training tips on the Animal Planet web site It's a great resource.

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Impurrfectlife said...

These commands seem basic but are so important for saftey of your dogs for themselves and others (strangers). I like that you mentioned that it's more than just focusing on obedience. Unfortunatly there are some crazy /evil people in the world that will try to insitgate a dog to 'snap back" but luckily I've seen dog owners who happened to have their dog trained well to defuse a situation and not play into attacks that kept trouble at bay. So I've seen first hand how these commands can keep people safe AND pets safe.

MattieDog said...

It's amazing how many people forget to teach their dog "leave it" when we think about how many times we say it to our dogs. Dogs experience the world through their senses - it's very normal for a dog to be curious and sniff and pick up something - and that something could be dangerous (like a piece of chocolate). Great reminder for helping to keep pet's safe!

LaylasWoof said...

Such important commands for dogs to learn and TG I managed to teach Layla them although with age she here and there forgets. I use the word wait not stay and she listens. Thanks for the great post

Sweet Purrfections said...

Very important commands. My mom's dog did pretty well with stay, but doesn't hasn't been trained well with the other two commands.

Beth said...

These are such important commands for dogs to know and practice regularly! I'm sure these commands have saved a lot of dogs' lives.

Dash Kitten Crew said...

YOU SAID IT! The number of reckless and stupid owners who do not teach their dog these vital commands must number in the millions. A dog absolutely needs to come on command every single time. You are responsible for your dog when you go out into the community. a good dog commands respect and affection, an untrained dog inspires distrust.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks for sharing your experience! You're right, some people still think of dogs as more protectors than pets which I think is so sad. These are 3 commands we rely on all the time to keep the dogs safe. Obedience is great, but pet safety is even more important to us.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Oh yeah, Leave It is a command we use constantly especially on walks or hiking. It's incredulous to me the stuff people throw out their windows onto the sidewalk! I don't know what they're thinking. I have seen apple core on the sidewalk several times over the years - it's so weird!!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Yes, Wait is a great one too. My dogs perceive wait as a very short term pause to wait for us to either give another command or a treat. Stay means they stay put until we release them. It's so important.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

That's great, a reliable Stay is really important. Leave It is a good one to try as well. Those two are critical safety commands for us. It can keep them out of a myriad of bad situations.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

We think so too! I'm sure they have saved a lot of dogs' lives, I know they've saved Icy from all kinds of bad situations.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Absolutely! We are responsible for our dog's safety as well as keeping others safe. I cringe when I see an out of control dog - and I keep my distance!

Ruby said...

These are FABulous! Yes, the furst command Ma taught me is 'drop', cause her Angel Maggie, and Irish Terrier, picked up EVERYTHING anybody dropped on the floor or left in her reach. One day, Gpa forgot, and left a couple of peach pits wrapped in a paper towel in her reach, she swallowed them instead of giving them up, and surgery followed 😧 She came through it fine, butts it could have been avoided with these good training commands as a wee one. sigh. Anyhu, I do knows drop and leave....the 'come' one, wells....🤣 That is why I am not allowed off leash BOL!!!
Ruby ♥

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks, I'm so glad you think so! Yes, Drop is a great command. Phoebe puts everything in her mouth too. That peach pit story is so scary! Thank goodness she was able to get help quickly, but surgery must have been so awful. Poor baby. Icy is never allowed off leash except the dog park and sometimes the beach - although Dad gets real antsy about it. He's so paranoid!

Britt K said...

This is a great reminder for those that are starting to train a new dog. As an avid camper and hiker, I can't say enough about having good recall and a solid understanding of 'leave it'. It can honestly save your dog's life in the right situation. I will never forget hanging out with our dogs on my mom's campsite and, for whatever reason, my girl Dav's tether broke. While some dogs would take off into the woods or onto the roadway, she responded by walking up to me like 'Hey, mom, this isn't how it's supposed to be...' hahaha

WherePetsAreFound said...

These are critically important skills to keep pur dogs safe.
Do you also use 'wait' in a different manner to 'stay'?

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