Trainer reveals one of the most important commands a dog should learn if you want to keep them safe

A Boston Terrier puppy wearing a jumper sitting on grass looking up at a human hand gesturing a stop or stay command during a training session
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all want to keep our dog's safe - but sometimes that's easier said than done. If you've ever let your pup off leash in a park only to have them make a dash for a busy road, then you know all too well that panicked feeling that something might happen to them.

While having a bag of the best dog treats in your pocket can certainly be handy when it comes to getting your canine companion to come back to you when you call them, not all dogs will respond to this when their focus has been captured elsewhere. 

It's important in a potentially dangerous situation that your dog is able to immediately follow your commands in order to keep them out of harm's way. Knowing you have full control when you need it will also give you tremendous peace of mind. 

According to expert trainer Amelia Steele, one of the most important commands you can teach your dog is an emergency stop. Check out her Instagram video below where she highlights this using a real-life training example, or keep reading for a summary of the key points.

When it comes to teaching the emergency stop command, Steele's video shows that it couldn't be easier.

"Start by walking away from your dog and as they follow you, nice and clearly say stop," Steele explains while holding her arm out in front of her and facing her palm towards the dog in a stop position.

"As soon as they stop, whether it's standing, sitting or lying down, mark yes and give them a treat. Slowly add duration by asking them to wait for longer and add distance  by walking away slightly each time."

When training the emergency stop command, Steele says it's important to make sure that you only mark yes when get back to them. "Or, if it's easier for you, you can mark yes and then throw them the treat as a reward," she suggests.

As with training any new skill, you'll want to keep practicing the emergency stop command with your dog to make sure they're really confident in understanding what's expected of them. 

"You probably want to practice it three or four times for every one time you actually need it," advises Steele.

If you find your canine companion struggles with the emergency stop command, we recommend enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer who will be able to offer you and your pup some 1:1 support.

For more great training tips, check out our guide to how to crate train a dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.