Training Tip Of The Day–Double Commands And Why You May Be Confusing Your Dog


March 2, 2012 by Shannon

When I was teaching classes one of the things I saw and heard a lot was people giving their dogs double commands.  It may not seem like a big deal, but when we are trying to teach our dogs what commands mean, giving them an action with not one but TWO words attached to it is just setting them up for failure.  The general rule for commands is one word to one action.  Period.

For example, when you ask your dog to sit, the command is “Sit.”  That’s it.  Not “Sit, sit, sit…siiiiiiiit.  Hey, SIT!  SIT!”  It is just “Sit.”  It is also not “Sit down.”  When you say this, you are in effect telling your dog to not only Sit, but to go into a Down also.  It is when commands such as these are given that we see owners start to get very discouraged because they are not getting the consistent response from their dog that they want.  Sit and Down are two totally different commands and two totally different positions.

I used to carry a squirt bottle around in class and squirt every person I heard using double commands or confusing commands.  “Off” and “Down” are two more that are often confused.  When your dog jumps up on you or someone else, furniture or whatever it is that you do not want them on, the correct command is “Off!”  It should be delivered like you mean it.  It is not a request.  It is also not “Down!”  Down is lying on the ground.  Do not confuse your dog by mixing your commands and actions.  It cannot mean to get off of something/someone AND to lie down on the floor.  It has to be one or the other.

Very simple, yet difficult for many owners to grasp.  If you simply think of what it is you are asking the dog to do, it makes perfect sense.  Successful training is all about setting our dogs up for success.  These simple tips will go a long way toward having a more reliably trained dog and a more confident handler.

Happy training!


6 thoughts on “Training Tip Of The Day–Double Commands And Why You May Be Confusing Your Dog

  1. K-Koira says:

    My question is how do you train your not-dog-trainer friends and family to use Off instead of Down when the dog jumps up? My dogs rarely jump up on me, but are often excited into jumping (and encouraged into it, often enough) by friends and family, who totally ignore, disregard, or forget that to my dogs, DOWN means to lay on the ground, while OFF means get your feet on the ground.

  2. Rama's Mama says:

    Yes, I totally hear you! I think we all get this. I just remind them. I correct them just as I would correct my dog. If they are doing something–or encouraging my dog to do something–that I don't allow or don't want them to do, I say something. If they continue, I just remove the dog and crate her.

  3. Rama's Mama says:

    Sometimes, if I know ahead of time someone is likely to entice my dogs into misbehaving, I will crate them before guests arrive. Sometimes people just don't care to listen or just don't realize how serious we take the behavior of our animals so in these instances I have found it easier to just pick my battles.

  4. Debbie says:

    You are so right with the off and down command and I remind my family all the time to us the right one. I myself also use a hand signal for each command. Deb

  5. Rama's Mama says:

    Yes, we use hand signals, too. I'll have to do a blog post on those one day. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. i'm totally with you on this–and i'm trying to get my husband to follow suit, but he always forgets. :-/

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