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The intelligence of dogs of different breeds and types can be highly variable, and whilst some dogs are capable of leaning a huge vocabulary of commands and will follow them first time almost without fail, other dogs can only learn a handful of commands – and probably, only very simple ones too.
How easy or hard it is to train any given dog depends on much more than just their basic intelligence levels, however. It also depends on how old the dog is, how used they are to being trained, the skills of the trainer, how well the dog and the trainer work together, and even what is going on around them too!
That said, regardless of the intelligence of the dog in question and all of the other variables that together, dictate what a given combination of dog and handler can achieve, certain commands are just objectively simpler to teach to dogs than others, and there are specific reasons for this.
Knowing what commands are the easiest for dogs to learn is of course useful information; if you’re just introducing a dog to training for the first time, picking a really easy command is essential so that they learn not just the command, but what training itself means.
It also means that you’ll be able to choose appropriate commands for your dog’s intelligence levels and skills, and to pick the right combination of commands to give your dog the best possible chance of learning effectively.
Whilst some of the easiest commands to teach dogs are essential commands that every dog should know and follow, this isn’t the case for all of them, but these additional straightforward commands can make a nice supplementary addition to your dog’s skillset.
With this in mind, this article will tell you the five easiest commands to teach a dog, and what makes them so easy. Read on to learn more.
The “sit” commands is by far the easiest command you can teach to a dog, and this is almost always the very first command a dog will learn or be taught, whether their eventual skillset is vast or if they only know and follow five or so commands in total!
The “sit” command is easy to teach for a combination of reasons, all of which are shared by the other easy dog training commands we’ll explain later on.
Firstly the word is clear, distinctive and unmistakable, and not one that tends to sound hugely different even if spoken in various different accents and tones of voice. It has clear consonant sounds at the start and finish, and is short and direct.
Secondly, dogs “sit” naturally, and so you’re not trying to show them something new or unusual! Thirdly, showing your dog what to do – using gentle pressure on their bottom to push them down into a sitting position – is easy and natural, and soon lets your dog know what you want when you give the “sit” command. Use training treats to speed the process up!
Most dogs can pick up “sit,” or at least begin to demonstrate understanding of it even if they’re not quite fully there, within just one training session.
“Lie down,” like sit, is an easy enough command to teach because dogs will once more lie down on their own quite happily, and they have the muscle memory and frame of reference to find the movement natural.
In fact, if you find that your dog takes a few tries to get to grips with the “sit” command, you might find that your gentle pressure on their rump results in them lying down instead!
“Lie down” is not the same as “get down,” however, which is perhaps a more useful command if used to tell your dog not to jump up, or not to put their paws on something; but that is a somewhat harder command to teach.
To teach “lie down,” use the word clearly and demonstrate by pushing your dog to lie down very gently. Praise and reward for compliance.
“Come” or simply using your dog’s name to get them to come to you is something that many pups pick up before you even begin training them formally, as once they bond with you and look to you as their carer and provider, they will naturally seek you out. They might do this simply at the sound of your voice, before they even learn their own name.
Whether you choose to use “come” or your dog’s name to call them, make this consistent and always reward whilst your dog is still learning. Make a big fuss of your dog when they do come when called, even if it took a while.
The shaking hands trick or “paw” isn’t a necessary command that will ensure your dog is obedient or that helps to keeps them safe, but it is one of the easiest commands to teach, and can be useful as more than just a trick.
From a sit, tell your dog “paw” or “shake paw” and lift a front leg and gently shake it. After a few repetitions with treats, your dog should start lifting their paw on command. Alternate legs, and when your dog is used to having them lifted, get them used to allowing you to pick up their back paws (without a command) as well, to make things like checking their paws over and trimming their claws easier.
The “stay” command is one of the five easiest commands to teach a dog, but can be one that takes a touch longer than the others, as your dog needs to make a small mental leap to understand what is required.
Returning your dog to their starting position with the “stay” command when they get up to follow you might need a reasonable amount of repetition, as depending on your dog’s intelligence, it can take a while for their minds to make the association they need to between the repetition and what you want them to do.
However, “stay” is still one of the easier commands to teach a dog, with repetition and consistency, and one that every dog should be taught at an early age.
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