Do Dogs Like Being Told What to Do? Facts to Know

As a dog owner, you’ve likely found yourself in situations where you need to instruct your furry companion to perform certain actions. 

Whether it’s teaching basic commands like “sit” and “stay” or asking them not to jump on guests, you may have wondered if your dog actually enjoys being told what to do. 

This article explores the fascinating world of canine communication and training to understand whether dogs like being told what to do or if there’s more to their behavior than meets the eye.

The Nature of Dogs

To comprehend how dogs perceive instructions, we must first understand their nature. Dogs are pack animals by instinct, and they rely on hierarchy and social order for survival. 

In a pack, there is typically an alpha leader who provides direction and makes decisions. This natural pack structure influences how dogs perceive authority and respond to commands.

Canine Communication

Dogs primarily communicate through body language, vocalizations, and scents. Understanding these forms of communication is essential in gauging their response to being told what to do. 

For instance, a wagging tail can indicate excitement or happiness, while a lowered tail could mean fear or submission. By observing their body language, we can better gauge their emotional state during training.

Positive Reinforcement vs. Dominance-Based Training

When instructing dogs, there are two primary training methods: positive reinforcement and dominance-based training. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding desired behaviors with treats, praise, or affection. 

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On the other hand, dominance-based training relies on establishing yourself as the alpha leader and using corrective measures for unwanted behavior.

Impact of Positive Reinforcement

Numerous studies have shown that positive reinforcement is not only effective but also more enjoyable for dogs. 

When dogs receive treats, praise, or affection for following commands, it strengthens the bond between the owner and the pet. 

The dog associates commands with rewards, making them more likely to comply willingly.

Stress and Anxiety in Dominance-Based Training

Dominance-based training, often involving punishment or scolding, can lead to stress and anxiety in dogs. 

While some may argue that it establishes discipline, studies have indicated that it can negatively impact a dog’s emotional well-being. This type of training may create fear and mistrust, hindering the human-dog relationship.

The Role of Consent in Training

One crucial aspect often overlooked is the importance of consent in training. Dogs, like humans, have individual personalities and preferences. 

Some dogs may enjoy learning new commands and engaging in training sessions, while others may find it stressful or uninteresting. It’s essential to observe your dog’s response during training and ensure they are comfortable and willing participants.

Understanding Individual Differences

Just like humans, dogs have different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences that shape their preferences and responses. 

Factors like breed, past training methods, and socialization can influence how dogs react to being told what to do. Therefore, being attentive to your dog’s unique needs and adjusting your training approach accordingly is crucial.

Bond and Trust Building

Building a strong bond and trust with your dog is fundamental to effective training. When dogs feel a deep connection with their owners, they are more likely to enjoy the training process. 

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Spending quality time together, engaging in play, and understanding their needs fosters a positive training environment.

Recognizing Signs of Discomfort

During training, it’s essential to recognize signs of discomfort or stress in your dog. These may include avoiding eye contact, trembling, panting excessively, or trying to escape the training area. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s vital to pause the training session and assess if your dog is comfortable continuing.

The Joy of Learning

Dogs are intelligent creatures that often enjoy mental stimulation and learning new things. Training sessions can be a source of mental enrichment and a way for dogs to feel accomplished when mastering commands. 

When approached positively and with patience, training can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your canine companion.


In conclusion, the question of whether dogs like being told what to do depends on various factors, including training methods, individual preferences, and the overall human-dog relationship. 

Positive reinforcement and consent-based training have proven to be more effective and enjoyable for dogs, fostering a deeper bond between owners and their pets. 

Understanding canine communication, recognizing signs of discomfort, and respecting individual differences are crucial in creating a positive training environment. 

By approaching training with patience, love, and understanding, you can ensure a fulfilling and harmonious relationship with your four-legged friend.