• Jessie Miller

2 Words That Could Save Your Dog's Life

I don’t know about you, but my dogs have an insatiable love for everyday normalcy. Simple things like opening the refrigerator door or going to retrieve the mail can be a new adventure each and every day. My four-legged companion’s curiosity for life is quite infectious, yet at times, it can be scary.


Scary – yes, because everyday life for humans can be a danger for our canines. To our dogs those yummy smelly things inside the fridge appear to be a tasty snack, but some of those foods can be deadly. Running out the door down the driveway to the mailbox might be routine for us, but every time that front door opens it offers a dog an opportunity to escape. A quick escape into the vast open world can be a hazard with no protection from cars or could lead to getting lost.

Dogs are curious about life; that’s why we love them. Protecting them from everyday curiosities is essential for their safety and overall health. An effective, easy, and fun way to do that is by teaching your four-legged friend some simple commands. The “leave-It” and “Wait” commands are two powerful directions that when reliably learned can be used to prevent dangerous situations from occurring. Let’s take a closer look at these two commands and how they can be utilized for the safety and overall wellness of your pet.

“Leave-It”

Whether your dog likes to dive bomb anything that falls on the floor (food, medications, small plastic objects), pick up gross, smelly objects while out on a walk, or pester the cat and visiting children; the leave-it command is a handy way to control your pup. Well-known English dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, explains the value of this command, “The 'leave it' cue teaches your dog an invaluable lesson in impulse control that can be useful in many situations.” Teaching your dog to “leave-it” will give you control and curb your pet from harming himself or something else. By using positive reinforcement training and high valued items, you can get a reliable “leave-it” for anything.

Signal or Ask for a “Wait”

The “wait” command is an absolute must for any dog owner. Amy Bender a dog expert at Dogs.About.com explains that the “wait” command is “helpful to prevent him from bolting out the door or out of his crate.” This signal is not only a life saver, but it helps to keep an over exuberant dog in check. Think about going for a ride in the car with your excitable, bouncy, enthusiastic pooch. Upon arrival at the destination (Dog Park, beach, favorite pet store) your dog is probably eager to jump out the moment the car door opens. The “wait” signal is perfect to curb your pup from barreling out into oncoming traffic. This handy command also gives you time to leash up your dog and check the area for any obstacles to avoid such as debris or trash. It is also helpful when at home and you need to get the mail as previously discussed. You simply ask your dog to “wait” in the living room, kitchen, or any place away from the door. A dog that solidly knows this command will not move forward past the boundary marked with the affirmative “wait” (hand or verbal signal) until he is released. It is important to note that the “wait” command is not STAY. When a dog is in STAY, they do not move from the spot they were giving the command to STAY. WAIT is asking the dog to stay behind a boundary, and they can move freely within that area just not forward past the marked WAIT location.

Training both commands can be life-saving. You might be able to control the things that fall on the floor or when a door gets opened but think about guests that stop by or stay for the weekend. What if an emergency occurs and you can’t always be present to control the surroundings. Other knowledgeable individuals can use these commands to help control your dog and keep them safe. Both “Leave-It” and “Wait” are becoming universal with positive reinforcement dog trainers. Just the other day I was helping a friend adopt a dog from the local community shelter and the dog we chose to look at new basic commands. People who train their dogs use universal commands and it works. Dogs that have learned a universal command (verbal or hand) will respond to an authoritative figure who directs them.

A trained dog is a happy, healthy, and safe dog. Be sure to teach your canine companion these two valuable commands that can add a high measure of safety to their life. Happy Training! ***RUBY (the dog featured in this article) is looking for a home at: The Clay County Animal Care and Control. She has been at the shelter for over a year waiting to meet that special person to spend her days loving, playing, and enjoying life. Please give this girl a chance!***

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