Top 5 Service Dog Commands To Learn

by Haley Mills · October 12, 2023

Unleash the Power of Working Dog Commands: Learn the Top 5 Service Dog Commands Today! Enhance your dog’s training and improve your life with these essential commands. Click here to unlock the key to a better bond with your four-legged companion.

Service dogs play a vital role in assisting individuals with disabilities and special needs. These highly trained and skilled canines are beloved companions and provide invaluable assistance to their owners. To effectively perform their duties, service dogs must be trained in a variety of commands. In this article, we will explore the top five service dog commands that are crucial for both the safety and well-being of the dog and their handler.

The first command on our list is the “Sit” command. This simple yet essential command teaches the service dog to sit down on command, which is particularly useful in situations where the handler needs the dog to remain still. The “Stay” command is another crucial command that ensures the dog stays in one place until given further instructions. This command is imperative when the handler needs to leave the dog momentarily or when the dog needs to remain calm and controlled in crowded or distracting environments.

The “Down” command teaches the service dog to lay down on command, providing a sense of security and relaxation for both the dog and their handler. The “Come” command is essential for calling the dog back to the handler, ensuring their safety and allowing the handler to maintain control in potentially dangerous situations. Lastly, the “Leave It” command is vital for service dogs to ignore or avoid distractions, potentially harmful objects, or substances that could jeopardize their safety or the safety of their handler.

By mastering these top five service dog commands, the bond between the dog and their handler is strengthened, and they can work together seamlessly to overcome any challenges that come their way.

Sit Command

The “sit” command is one of the most important commands for a service dog to learn. It provides a foundation for other commands and helps establish control and focus. Reinforcing the sit command is crucial for service dogs as it allows them to remain calm and attentive in various situations.

One of the key tips for teaching the sit command to a service dog is to use positive reinforcement. Reward your dog with treats or praise when they successfully sit on command. This positive association will encourage them to repeat the behavior. Be consistent with your cues and expectations. Use a clear and distinct verbal command, such as “sit,” and a corresponding hand signal. Consistency will help your service dog understand what is expected of them and reinforce the command.

Another tip is to start training in a distraction-free environment and gradually increase the level of distractions. This will help your service dog learn to sit even in challenging situations. Begin training in a quiet room and gradually introduce mild distractions, such as toys or other people. As your dog becomes more comfortable and reliable with the command, you can progress to more distracting environments, such as parks or busy streets.

Stay Command

One essential command for a service dog is mastering the “stay” command. This command is crucial for a service dog to learn because it allows them to stay in one place until given a release cue.

The stay command is beneficial in everyday situations as it provides safety, control, and convenience. For example, when crossing a busy street, a service dog that can stay in one place until it’s safe to cross ensures the handler’s safety. Additionally, in crowded places such as malls or restaurants, the stay command allows the service dog to remain in a designated spot, reducing the chances of accidents or disturbances.

To effectively train the stay command for service dogs, start with basic obedience training. Begin by teaching the dog to sit and stay in one place for a short duration. Gradually increase the duration and distance as the dog becomes more comfortable and reliable. Use positive reinforcement such as treats, praise, and rewards to motivate the dog and reinforce the desired behavior.

Consistency is key in training the stay command, so practicing in various environments and distractions is essential to ensure the dog can stay focused and obedient in different situations. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, service dogs can be trained to master the stay command, providing their handlers with safety, control, and convenience in everyday situations.

Down Command

One of the main advantages of teaching a service dog to follow the “down” command is that it helps them to stay calm and composed in various environments. For example, in crowded places or during public events, having the ability to lie down on command allows the dog to stay out of the way and not cause any disturbances. This is especially important for individuals with disabilities who rely on their service dogs for assistance, as it ensures their safety and comfort.

Another benefit of the “down” command is that it promotes focus and concentration in service dogs. When a dog is in a down position, they are less likely to be distracted by their surroundings and more likely to pay attention to their handler’s commands. This is crucial when the dog needs to be alert and responsive, such as during tasks requiring precision or quick reactions. Additionally, the “down” command can be used as a relaxation cue, helping service dogs to calm down and reduce anxiety in stressful situations.

Maintaining the “down” position for an extended period can be challenging, especially when the dog is tempted to get up or move around. This can be addressed by gradually increasing the duration of the down stay, starting with short intervals and gradually working up to longer periods of time. Incorporating distractions and varying the training environment can also help the dog to generalize the command and stay down in different situations.

Come Command

To train a service dog to come on command in different environments, start in a quiet and familiar setting, gradually increasing the distractions as they become more proficient. Begin by using a long leash and calling your dog’s name followed by the command “come.” As they start moving towards you, reward them with treats and praise. Repeat this exercise multiple times, gradually increasing the distance between you and your dog. Once they are comfortable with the command in a controlled environment, start practicing in different locations with varying distractions. This will help your dog generalize the command and respond reliably.

When teaching the come command, it is crucial to avoid common mistakes that can hinder your dog’s learning process. One common mistake is calling your dog’s name followed by the command too many times. This can confuse your dog and make them tune out your commands. Instead, use their name once followed by a clear and firm command. Another mistake is punishing your dog when they come to you. This can create an adverse association with the command and make them hesitant to come when called. Always reward your dog with treats, praise, and affection when they respond to the come command.

What Are the Most Important Service Dog Commands to Teach?

When it comes to essential service dog training commands, there are a few key ones to focus on. “Sit,” “stay,” and “heel” are fundamental for control and obedience. “Leave it” and “drop it” are crucial for safety. “Settle” and “watch me” help with focus and calming.

Leave It Command

The “leave it” command is an essential skill for service dogs, as it helps them avoid picking up or interacting with items that could be harmful or distracting. Teaching this command requires patience and consistency, but with the right techniques, you can effectively train your service dog to respond reliably to the “leave it” command.

One technique to teach the “leave it” command is to start with a low-value item, such as a treat, and hold it in your hand. Show it to your dog and then close your hand, making a fist. As your dog sniffs or tries to get the treat, say “leave it” in a firm but calm voice.

Wait for your dog to stop trying to get the treat, even if it’s just for a second, and then reward them with a different treat from your other hand. Repeat this process several times, gradually increasing the duration of time your dog has to resist the temptation before receiving the reward. This helps them understand that “leave it” means to ignore the item and wait for further instructions.

While teaching the “leave it” command, there are common challenges that you may face. One challenge is that some dogs are highly food-motivated, making it difficult for them to resist the temptation of a treat. To overcome this challenge, you can start with a lower-value treat and gradually work your way up to higher-value items.

Another challenge is that dogs may initially struggle to understand what “leave it” means. It’s essential to be consistent with your cues and rewards, and to practice in different environments to generalize the command.

Additionally, distractions can make it harder for dogs to focus on the “leave it” command. Gradually introduce distractions, such as toys or other dogs, while practicing the command, and reward your dog for successfully ignoring them.


Learning the top 5 service dog commands is essential for both the dog and the handler. These commands, including Sit, Stay, Down, Come, and Leave It, provide the foundation for a well-trained and obedient service dog. They are foundational skills that every service dog and handler should master. By consistently practicing and reinforcing these commands, a service dog can become a reliable and trusted companion, ready to assist their handler in any situation.

Last Updated: April 21, 2024

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