How Many Commands Does a Smart Dog Know? Reality

Dogs have been our loyal companions for thousands of years, standing by our sides through thick and thin. Their remarkable ability to understand and respond to human commands has fascinated us throughout history. 

From simple tricks to complex tasks, smart dogs have continuously impressed us with their intelligence. 

But how many commands can a smart dog truly comprehend? In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of canine cognition and explore the vast repertoire of commands that our furry friends can learn.

Understanding Canine Intelligence

Before we embark on our journey into the various commands a smart dog can learn, it’s essential to grasp the concept of canine intelligence. 

Contrary to popular belief, intelligence in dogs doesn’t solely depend on breed; rather, it varies greatly among individuals and is influenced by factors such as genetics, training, and environmental enrichment.

In the early 20th century, renowned animal behaviorist, Dr. Stanley Coren, introduced the concept of “intelligence” in dogs. 

He classified canine intelligence into three categories: instinctive, adaptive, and working intelligence. Instinctive intelligence refers to the innate abilities that dogs possess based on their breed traits. 

Adaptive intelligence reflects their problem-solving capabilities, while working intelligence measures how well a dog can learn and perform tasks. It is this working intelligence that determines how many commands a dog can ultimately grasp.

Common Commands for Smart Dogs

Sit: One of the first and most fundamental commands taught to a dog is “sit.” This command helps instill discipline and is often a precursor to other more advanced commands.

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Stay: Teaching a dog to “stay” is vital for safety reasons and ensures they remain in one place until released.

Come: “Come” or recall is an indispensable command, especially when your dog is off-leash or in potentially hazardous situations.

Heel: The “heel” command teaches a dog to walk beside its owner without pulling on the leash, making walks more enjoyable and controlled.

Lie Down: The “lie down” command is useful in calming excitable dogs and preventing jumping on people.

Leave It: “Leave it” is crucial for keeping your dog safe, as it discourages them from picking up harmful objects or eating something inappropriate.

Drop It: Similar to “leave it,” “drop it” instructs your dog to release whatever they have picked up or are holding in their mouth.

Wait: “Wait” teaches a dog to pause momentarily, which can be handy when crossing roads or entering/exiting a confined space.

Speak/Quiet: Teaching your dog to “speak” and “be quiet” on command can be beneficial for communication and curbing excessive barking.

Fetch: Many dogs love playing fetch, and teaching them this command can provide both mental and physical exercise.

Advanced Commands for Exceptionally Smart Dogs

Roll Over: An endearing trick where a dog rolls onto its back, displaying trust and obedience.

Shake Hands: Teaching a dog to offer a paw for a handshake is a charming and fun command.

Spin/Twirl: Dogs can learn to spin or twirl in circles, showcasing their agility and coordination.

Bow: The “bow” command involves a dog lowering its chest to the ground while keeping its rear end up, mimicking a bowing motion.

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Play Dead: This entertaining trick involves a dog lying down on its side, seemingly “playing dead” upon command.

Bring Me [Item]: Dogs can be trained to fetch specific items like toys, the newspaper, or even their leash.

Find It: “Find it” commands a dog to locate a hidden object or treat using their keen sense of smell.

Close/Open Doors: Some exceptionally smart dogs can be trained to close and open doors, offering convenience and amusement.

Turn Off/On Lights: For dogs with advanced training, learning to turn off and on lights can be a helpful skill.

Speak on Cue: Beyond simply barking, some dogs can be trained to bark on command, which can be entertaining in various situations.

The Limitations of Canine Learning

While dogs are capable of learning an impressive array of commands, their abilities do have limits. 

Each dog is an individual with its own strengths and weaknesses, and some dogs may struggle with certain commands due to their breed traits, age, health, or prior training experiences.

It’s essential to be patient and understanding during the training process, using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage learning and avoid punishment-based methods, which can be counterproductive.


The intelligence and willingness to learn displayed by smart dogs never cease to amaze us. From the basic obedience commands to complex tricks, dogs can comprehend a wide variety of instructions, showcasing their remarkable cognitive abilities. 

However, it’s essential to remember that every dog is unique, and their capacity to learn varies. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key factors in successfully teaching commands to our beloved canine companions. 

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So, whether your dog knows a handful or a plethora of commands, cherish their individuality, and revel in the joy of their companionship and loyalty.