Cesar Millan’s 5 Important Commands To Teach Your Dog


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This post was most recently updated on October 19, 2021

Spot Pet Insurance chairman Cesar Millan knows a thing or two about dog training. Today, he shares his knowledge on a few commands that will help you control your pet’s behavior and surely impress your friends and family.

Teach your dog the 5 commands below to help tackle behavior problems – existing ones or those that may develop in the future.

All of these commands are easy to teach your pup. In fact, with the right attitude, it can be fun for both you and your dog!

1. Sit

Cesar Millan sitting with his dog Daddy

This is one of the most natural dog obedience commands to teach, so it’s a good one to start with.

  • Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
  • Move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower.
  • Once he’s in a sitting position, say “Sit,” give him the treat, and share affection.

It’s important to revisit this sequence often. Ask your dog to sit before mealtime, when leaving the house, and while out and about on walks. Be patient, with repeat practice your dog will master the “sit.”

2. Come

Cesar Millan asking Dog Come to him on his farm

This command can help keep a dog out of some serious trouble! Like bringing them back to you if you lose grip on the leash or accidentally leave the front door open.

  • Put a leash and collar on your dog.
  • Go down to his level and say “come,” while gently pulling on the leash.
  • When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.

Remove the leash only when they’ve really mastered this command. Even then, you should practice with them in an enclosed area where they aren’t at risk of running into a street or being distracted by walkers-by.

3. Down

Dog sitting down begging and smiling

This can be one of the more difficult commands in dog obedience training. Why? Because the position is a submissive posture. You can help by keeping practice positive and relaxed; Particularly with fearful or anxious dogs.

  • Find a particularly tasty smelling treat, and hold it in your closed fist.
  • Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When your dog sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so your pup follows.
  • Then slide your hand along the ground in front of them to encourage their body to follow its head.
  • Once they’re in the down position, say “Down,” give them the treat, and share affection.

Again, repetition and consistent practice is key. And be sure you don’t reinforce the wrong behaviors during practice. If your dog lunges towards your hand or sits up, just say “no” and take your hand away. Don’t push your pet down, use the treat to encourage them to move towards the desired position.

4. Stay

Cesar Millan tells dogs to stay

Before attempting this one, make sure your dog is an expert at the “Sit” command, as it will be the foundation position for “Stay.” Mastering this command is useful for keeping your dog from overwhelming guests or waiting for you to fill their food dish or open a door.

  • First, ask your dog to “Sit.”
  • Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say, “Stay.”
  • Take a few steps back. Reward your pup with a treat and affection if they stay.
  • Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.
  • Always reward your pup for staying put – even if it’s just for a few seconds.

This is an exercise in self-control for your dog, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to master, particularly for puppies and high-energy dogs. After all, they want to be on the move and not just sitting there waiting.

Don’t be discouraged if this command takes your dog a while to master, particularly if they are young and prefer to be on the move. “Stay” requires self-control in addition to understanding, so remember that you’ll have to help build their self control by increasing “Stay” time slowly.

5. Leave It

dog learning to leave it's toy

This can be a useful tool when your dog wants to pick something up that they shouldn’t in the yard, house, or out on a walk. The idea when training them: make the reward they get for ignoring an item more exciting than the item itself.

  • Place a treat in both hands.
  • Show them one enclosed fist with the treat inside, and say “leave it.”
  • Let them lick, sniff, mouth, paw, and bark to try to get it – and ignore the behaviors.
  • Once they stop trying, give them the treat from the other hand.
  • Repeat until your dog moves away from that first fist when you say, “leave it.”
  • Next, only give your dog the treat when they move away from that first fist and looks up at you, too.

Once your dog consistently moves away from the first treat, you’ll progress to another exercise. You’ll still use two treats, but select two different treats: one that they really like and one that’s less exciting.

  • Say “Leave it,” place the less attractive treat on the floor, and cover it with your hand.
  • Wait until your dog ignores that treat and looks at you. Then remove that treat from the floor, give them better treats and share affection immediately.
  • Once they’ve got it, place the less tasty treat on the floor… but don’t completely cover it with your hand. Instead, hold it a little bit above the treat. Over time, gradually move your hand farther and farther away until your hand is about 6 inches above.
  • Now they’re ready to practice with you standing up! Follow the same steps, but if he or she tries to snatch the less tasty treat, cover it with your foot.

If your dog struggles with this practice, you can always go back to the previous stage and work more there. Remember that you’re asking a lot of your dog, and they can get frustrated, too. Stay patient and calm.

There you have it: Sit, Come, Down, Stay, and Leave It.

Just these five simple commands can help keep your dog safer and improve your communication with them. It’s well worth the investment of your time and effort. Remember, the process takes time, so only start a dog obedience training session if you’re in the right mindset to practice calm-assertive energy and patience.

It is well-known that some breeds are harder to train than others. However, if you think your dog’s behavior is abnormal, then you could consider seeing a vet to assess the issue. With dog insurance, you can cover the costs of behavioral problems with your pup.

Here at Spot Pet Insurance, we do our best to provide helpful dog info. We care deeply about your dog’s health and want to be with you every step of the way. For other helpful info about pets, check out our Spot Pet Insurance webpage! Here we provide you with educational materials that can help you with the best foods, toys, safety, and care tips for your dog. We also offer personalized pet insurance plan options to help keep your dog protected in case of unexpected accidents and illnesses.

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