We all want the best for our dogs and do our best to keep them safe which means we teach them commands to help them navigate this modern world we have created. I've always been a strong believer that three most important commands to teach my dogs are Stay, Wait, and Come. Let me explain my point of view.
Stay and Wait are the same aren't they? Not in my world. I use these words very differently for my dog's training. Let's start with Stay. This is when you ask a dog to remain in position (either standing, sitting, or lying down) until you return to them. The last part is the important distinction. The dog is not released from the Stay command until I am standing in front or beside them. When do I use this? This command comes in handy in emergency situations. Let's go through a "For instance" scenario; Your dog takes off across the street and is now on the other side with cars coming down the road. You're best bet is to tell your dog to Stay and when it is safe you can cross the road to your dog then release them (hopefully clipped to a leash for safety). Now this is an extreme situation that I hope no one will ever have to got through, but it's better to be prepared than to be left scrabbling. This is also my go to command used when walking on leash when I run into a person I know and start chatting (at a 2m distance of course!). This keeps my dog contained and not constantly tugging on the leash or trying to jump on the person I'm talking to.
Now for Wait. This is similar to Stay in the sense that the dog is asked to hold a position (either standing, sitting, or lying down) until verbally released from a distance. This is the command I use when I plan to walk away from the dog and ask for a recall from a distance. As a dog walker this command is one I use everyday with the dogs in my care. I open the tailgate of my SUV asking the dogs inside to Wait, then I call them out one at a time as to not have an explosion of energy coming out. This is also a great command to use during diner time. When I prepare my dog's food I ask her to Wait in a sit until I'm finished preparing her bowl and place it on the floor then I release her with Okay.
The most important command in my opinion is Come. This is the classic command for recall which is what all dog owners strive to master. The benefits to this command are numerous but here's a "For instance"; your leash breaks and your dog's loose and loving his or her newfound freedom, this can escalate and become out of control, and dangerous, very quickly. If your dog has a strong Come command then the situation is diffused and your dog will return to you safely. Recall can be hard to master and does take time and patience for your dog to master but is worth every effort!
These three little words do take practice and time so don't discourage if your dog's taking a bit longer than you'd expect. And remember that there's no shame in reaching out to a knowledgeable trainer for help and guidance! And remember that training your dog should always be fun and leave you both with a smile!