These Dog Commands Can Save Your Dog’s and Others’ Lives

lifesaving dog commands

We all love to teach our dogs tricks. Some are frivolous like “play dead,” while some are important, like going potty only when outdoors. Teaching your dog commands sure is fun, and having an obedient dog is rewarding for owners. But how else do dog commands help, other than molding good dog behavior?

Imagine a situation where you left your dog off their leash in an enclosed area, like your backyard. What happens when you see your dog picking up a piece of food you had coated with rat poison? You run toward your good boy to pull it out of his mouth, but he has already consumed it.

While dog obedience can help train your dog to perform and exhibit a variety of tricks, commands, and good behaviors, these dog commands can be lifesaving.

Lifesaving Dog Commands You Should Teach Your Dog

Your dog’s name

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teaching basic dog commands

D.O.G. Obedience Group

The first thing your puppy should learn is their name. They should respond by looking at you when you say their name. The easiest way to teach them is by giving them a treat or praise each time they look at you, whether you call out their name or not. Your dog will soon learn that making eye contact is worth their while. Once they make eye contact, add their name prior to them making eye contact and follow it either by a treat or praise. They will learn to associate the sound of their name and their eye contact with a treat or praise. However, do not use their name when disciplining them, especially when they are first learning it.


A dog who immediately drops their body into a down position, regardless of the distance from their owner, will be better able to avoid danger. Even the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation teaches search-and-rescue dogs to respond to dog commands like down or stay even if they are running at top speed toward a victim or are on top of a pile of rubble. This is taught so the search dog stays in place until the potential hazard passes or the handler can safely reach the dog.

Pet dogs greatly benefit from these dog commands. There are occasions when dogs need to be directed out of danger. The down or stay dog commands work like a security blanket for both the owner and the dog. This way, everyone expects that the dog isn’t going to move for a while, no matter where the owner goes, even if that means the owner is already out of sight. These dog commands can be a truly lifesaving if you need a dog to stay put when moving around could mean they get injured.

lifesaving dog commands

American Kennel Club

Leave it / drop it

As much as we love our dogs, we all know that they can bite into things that are unsafe for them. The number-one poison hazard for dogs is human prescription medication. Even a single pill can have devastating effects on your dog. So if you accidentally drop a pill onto the floor, Fido might hear it and go straight for it. When you try to stop him, it might be too late. If you don’t want your dog getting into something that could kill them, “leave it” and “drop it” are must-know dog commands. The solid “leave it” and “drop it” dog commands keep your dog from exploring dangerous objects or other wildlife they come across on hikes and from getting too close to an object or situation that could harm them.


Having a dog that will come when they’re called can help prevent some disastrous accidents. If your dog pulls the leash from your hand, you can call them back to you. When your dog sniffs an unidentified object on the ground, you can call them back to you. If your dog chases something and heads toward a busy road, you can call them back to you. The list of safety benefits for this command can go on and on. If you haven’t trained your dog this command, you could end up chasing them all around and they will think it’s a game.


When your dog is off the leash or without a collar and you need them to move along with you somewhere, the heel command is a must to keep them safely by your side. It’s also a good command even while on leash when you’re moving through large crowds or in areas with danger zones. You can be strict about it, making the heel command where your dog walks right up next to you with their head even with your leg, or you can make it a little less stringent, with the dog knowing they just have to walk by your side until told otherwise.


Aside from safety, dog commands can also make veterinary visits a little easier. Many dogs are stressed when they go to their veterinarian, and many dog commands and basic socialization skills can help to not only ease the stress but also to make things like nail trims, medical procedures, and physical exams less difficult for both your dog and their doctor.

Sophie Thomas, a professional dog trainer in Memphis, Tennessee, believes that the old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is inaccurate. “Whether your dog is six months or six years, they can still learn all of these things.  Even if your dog has lived its entire life afraid of letting someone touch his paws, I believe he can still be taught to accept it.”

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