Favorite/most useful command?


Well-Known Member
Hey all! WOW, it's been a long time since I've visited this forum!! I missed it (and I daresay Cassidy did too). :dogsmile:

Well anyway, one of my new year's resolutions has been to be MUCH more consistent in teaching Cassidy tricks and obedience. I'm trying to set up a very rough calendar/plan for teaching certain things (one of my big problems is that I can never remember what I was teaching last time, or can't think of what to teach next). So basically I'm compiling a list of tricks and commands to teach (but putting them all on a calendar to keep myself motivated). I understand, of course, that the length of teaching each trick will depend on Cassidy and I'm not obsessive about having to teach one new thing each week or month or whatever - I just think this system might work better for me to keep me motivated and help me keep track of what we've accomplished.

Anyway, I thought I'd ask on here what everyone's favorite or most useful obedience command is?? I thought it would be fun to see everybody's responses, as well as giving me good ideas for where to start with Cassidy! She already knows the BASIC basics (sit, down, stay -for a short time :msnblushing:- and then some basic tricks as well.

So, fellow dogtrickacademy-ers, what is your favorite or most useful OBEDIENCE command? I'll post another thread on the tricks forum for favorite or most fun tricks. Look forward to seeing your responses if you have time!!

~Leslie (and Cassidy)


Honored Member
Staff member
I'd say either come or stay.... I use stay constantly. I have a habit of forgetting necessities....for instance, I can have Mud in the tub and I'm fixing to soap her up, and I realize...well geez I didn't get the shampoo. Or the scrubber. So, wet or dry, I can tell her to stay and leave the bathroom to go get whatever I need. Or if I need an extra towel, and the "old" towels are in the dryer or something, I can tell her to stay.

When she was attacked by a neighbor's dog, as you can imagine I was a little frazzled, but I told her to stay on a towel while I grabbed everything I needed to attend to her wounds while Mom tried(unsuccessfully) to contact our #1,2, and 3 vets(all of which were on emergency calls elsewhere).
If we're going to Petsmart or somewhere and I need to shuffle stuff in the truck, or put the seat cover on, I can tell her to stay while I get that done first. If I am shopping at Petsmart or somewhere else and don't have enough hands for the leash and all of my stuff, I can tell her to stay while I situate everything, or sit everything down, we go get a basket, and I tell her to stay while I get everything in the basket. She's also got this weird reaction to plastic bags. If you're shaking open a trash bag or something, she goes bonkers. She used to lose it and try to attack the bag, which was dangerous to the bag holder. She's not afraid of them, just crazy I guess, lol! Now fortunately I've progressed with her to where she will attack a toy instead, but she still goes A-wall. So now, I've started asking for a stay while I slowly and gently open a bag right in front of her. Eventually I'll be able to shake one open right in front of her, but for the time being she's not there yet.

Sooo....I use stay a lot, and the more you use it the better they'll get. All of my dogs have to sit and stay for food, and wait(which for me is basically a sit-stay) to enter/exit a door or gate. As much as I use this command, they all have a very good understanding of the word stay. I'm working with a client's dog now who will jump and/or dash in the door as soon as it opens(if he is outside), and is really bad about jumping on people. So what I'm working with now is sort of an unspoken understanding that he has to stay in place when the door opens. If the door opens and he jumps on it, the door shuts. Door opens again, if he jumps/tries to come in, door shuts. And so on...he's gotten to a point now that you can completely open the door and he stands or sits just outside of it until you tell him he can come in.

I rambled, sorry, lol! So I'd say that stay is the most useful basic obedience command for me.


Well-Known Member
Thanks, tx cowgirl! Sounds like your pup has stay down pat - wow, staying after being attacked? Staying in the TUB???? Haha, Cassidy definitely needs work on that one - she would leap out of the tub immediately if I stopped touching her head, much less if I LEFT THE ROOM! :msnblushing:

We only ever worked up to about 30 seconds on a stay, and NEVER with big distractions. Thanks for outlining all the benefits for me - that's really helpful to get keep me motivated. And this should be an easy thing for Cassidy, since really we'll just be refining a command she already knows.

Question: so then do you think I could just continue shaping the "stay" even after she knows the command and only associates it with a 30 second max? I use a clicker to release her, and I'm almost always successful in releasing her before she breaks her stay. However, I'm always a little confused about changing the behavior I'm asking for AFTER she is already familiar with the command. My gut is that she would understand fine as we worked up to a longer and longer time, but will that be changing the meaning of the command "stay" in her mind? I guess that's neither here nor there, but I'd appreciate knowing how you did it, or maybe even just reassurance that my way will be fine. :dogrolleyes:

Thanks again for the reply! I appreciate it!


Honored Member
Yeah, TX, that is amazing "stay" work! I need to work on that, for stays while distracted. Duh, i never even THOUGHT of trying that!

Ha, Buddy has a real strong, weird fetish with plastic bags, too! the ONLY way we'd ever lose our velcro-dog, Buddy, is he might follow someone--anyone--with a plastic bag. :msngiggle:
ha, probably for hours!!!

He follows anyone carrying a plastic bag with his "in the zone" overly-focused face, you can almost imagine laser-beams shooting out of his eyes onto the plastic bag.:msngiggle:
Makes no difference if it is empty or not. He will run to watch anyone doing anything with a plastic bag!!

sometimes, i take his old toys and put them in plastic bags for him, he thinks that is a good time. Poor 'bored-collie' in the winter...


New Member
I'd die if my dogs didn't know stay or 'wait (sit stay)'!
My dogs tend to want to follow me everywhere I go, which can be annoying. A lot of times at night, once everyone is settled and ready to sleep I'll realize I forgot something downstairs and without that stay everyone would jump up and I'd have to round them back up the stairs and settle them again, but thankfully one little word and I can go downstairs by myself!
I can be working the dogs outside and go in for a drink and leave the dogs outside unleashed and unfenced and not worry about them darting off or pooping in the neighbors yard! LOL
Another..I guess you'd call it a command..I couldn't live without would be my release command 'GO'. A strong release command is great for building drive on Recalls or toy drive...and the dogs love it. I'd be worried about using a clicker as a release, because they might think you releasing them if you click for good behavoir during training or when teaching a new command.

If Cassidy has a good 30 sec stay then ask her to stay for..31 sec..and then if that goes well 32 sec.. and then 34 sec, etc. When she gets out of a stay too early go back to 30 sec and work up for there. Asking her to hold her stay longer than she's use to should not really change the meaning of the command in her mind. The stay command should always be 'Stay right here until I am released' not 'Stay right here until 30sec is up' , length of time should be irrelevant to the dog. Once you have a good duration stay down in low level distractions you can start doing 5 sec stays in a higher distraction level and move up from there. Always go at your dogs pace..when you teach something slower the end result is stronger. Any time she breaks stay move back to the last step. Sometimes training stay can be like a game of shoots and ladders!
You can work on stays/ waits at the door before she goes out. Ask for a stay at the door and if she gets up before being released close the door. IF she ever manages to slip out of the door retrieve her from the yard and put her back in the stay at the door and try again.

Hope that helps some..the stay command can literally be a life saver! :msnohyes:


Honored Member
Staff member
No, staying longer than 30 seconds won't be confusing to her. In a dog's mind, stay means stay....they just know when they can break it. You've accustomed her to be released at 30 seconds, so if you put her in a stay and didn't release her, at 30 seconds she'd break it without the release most likely. So just slowly start adding distance and time. Is her 30 second stay with you standing right in front of her, or a few steps away?
Here's what you can do....if this is normally with you standing right in front of her, put her in a sit/down stay(whichever you normally practice), and take a small step back. If she breaks it, "Ah-ah!" and step into her space. (The ah-ah should not be angry, or loud, it's just kind of a, "Hey there silly, that's not what I want you to do!") Some dogs need even a smaller step than this----meaning you'll have to get her to stay when you lean back, then stay when you move one foot back, then stay when you take a full step back. So, if you absolutely can't get her to stay when you take a step back, then break it down into baby steps. If you step back and she stays, immediately return to her and reward. I wouldn't use the click as the release, I would rather use a word. Once she's doing well with one step, try two steps. By increasing distance you're also increasing time, because naturally it takes you longer to take more steps. This is also the beginning steps to having her stay with distractions---it's distracting to stay while you're moving. Continue advancing her stay step by step, and start adding distractions slowly when you're comfortable she can handle it.

Also, asking for a stay and backing away is not the same thing as asking for a stay, turning around and walking away. When you're walking away with your back to them, they don't have your eye contact holding them there. So even if she'll stay while you back away 15 steps, she might not stay if you turn around and take one step. For instance, I'm training a dog right now who will stay perfectly if I back 100 steps away, but stand right in front of him and turn around and he immediately breaks his stay. So with him I had to really baby step it--reward for me just slightly turning my shoulders, then for turning maybe halfway, then for turning around, then staying turned around for several seconds, then taking a step away, etc.

Another exercise I do to advance the stay is to circle them. Even dogs with the most advanced of stays may not stay when you walk behind them. In a down stay, I expect them to stay if I step over them, stand over them, circle them, or anything else.
Always work at her level. If you try to go to 10 steps when you've been working on 8, and she's broken it 5 consecutive times, go back to 8 or even less. Eventually you can work on stand-stays too, which are very hard for a dog.

Use your body language to help keep her in a stay. If you know she's fixing to break it, lean into her or step towards her, whether you're 6 inches away or 6 feet away.

Good luck!!!! Hope this helps.