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Dog Training Tips: Automatic Commands

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Everybody knows that a command is something that you ask your dog to do. However, not many people talk about or use automatic commands. Here are a few automatic commands that I LOVE!

Most puppies and dogs enjoy getting into things and especially frantically trying to get anything that falls on the ground. This can have horrible consequences depending on what the item was that the dog took. A major concern that I have is if my dog eats a pill that I accidentally dropped on the ground or a piece of food that is toxic to dogs. I taught my puppy Archie to leave anything and everything alone (including object in addition to food) unless I tell him he can have it. This is an automatic command of 'leave it'. While there are times that I do ask him to 'leave it' such as with sniffing leaves or focusing on other dogs, I like him to automatically leave things when I drop them on the ground or if they have been there for longer (for a few hours or even days).

Just the other day I found an ibuprofen pill on the ground in the bedroom that had been there for over a day I'm sure. Archie could’ve taken that pill at any point in time but he continued to leave it alone without me asking him to. This included when Archie was alone in the room with the pill. While I would never intentionally leave pills on the ground to test my dog, it was a great relief to see that I could trust Archie more with leaving pills alone. This is because I have taught him to leave everything alone unless I tell him he can have it. I even do this with his food. He is expected to not touch his food until I tell him that it’s his with the words 'take it'. Having an automatic 'leave it' command gives me peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to worry about Archie eating something that he shouldn’t have.

Here's a video of Archie automatically leaving a fry alone. I didn't say any words to him, this is why it is an automatic command. You can see him go to investigate the fry but he then turns his head away on his own knowing that the fry is not his.

Another one of my favorite automatic commands is 'stay out of the road' this is where I expect my dog to stay out of the road at all times unless I release them. It doesn’t matter if I run into the street or if I’m holding onto their leash. I expect my dog to wait until my command to cross the street. Since this is an automatic command, I don’t have to ask my dog to stay out of the road. I expect them to do it without even asking.

The reason that I decided to perfect this command was when my friend's dogs got out of the yard and ran across the street... and my dogs followed. To give some backstory, I was watching my friend’s two dogs but I also had my own two dogs with me. At this point in time, Archie was maybe 6 months old. I was talking all of the dogs potty in the backyard. My friend's dogs escaped the yard within seconds and I went running after them across the street and luckily caught them quickly in the neighbor’s yard. When I turned around to walk them back to the house, I found that my puppy Archie and older dog Meg had run after us and we’re currently crossing the street. I knew at that moment how important it was to implement an automatic command of 'stay out of the road'.

If this would’ve been a command that my dogs already knew, I would’ve avoided them running into the street after me and possibly getting hit. The goal with this automatic command is to be able to do anything and trust that your dog will stay out of the road until you tell them it’s okay. When I am walking with my dog and we need to cross the street, I’ll have them do the automatic stay out of the road command (without saying anything) while I step onto the street and check for cars. Once I am ready for them to follow, I release them with 'break' or ask for a 'heel' or a 'come' and they’re allowed to step onto the street. Here's a video of Archie doing an automatic 'stay out of the road'. You don't have to drop the leash, I did because I trust him not to run from me. We usually go on walks with the leash dragging anyways.

Free yourself from the fear and learn these amazing automatic commands!

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