I adopted my dog in Ecuador.
He’s a weirdly large and muscular chihuahua named Frodo.
Fifteen pounds of fury, baby.
He’s also a smart, bilingual pup who knows his commands in Spanish and English.
If you’re a dog owner who’s learning Spanish, you’re in luck. You can train your dog and your Spanish skills at the same time!
Why Train Your Dog with Spanish Commands?
Let me tell you, my pup’s short life (about three years) is a long story. He started off in a humble coastal abode, lived on the rooftop of an urban apartment building, explored the Amazon rainforest, then traveled to the United States where he frolics to this very day. He’s been on buses, boats, cars, ferries and planes.
Through it all, training is what kept him safe and secure by my side.
Now he has the attentiveness and obedience of a tiny soldier. When I say a command, he’s at attention! I’ve never had a dog who’s so obedient that I can walk him in public without a leash, and I have to believe my extra enthusiasm for training (since I knew I was also training my Spanish at the same time) had something to do with this.
And it’s not just something practical. Dogs love to go through obedience training, behave well and know that they’re good.
Learning Spanish dog commands can make this training easier for both of you. As I’ll explain in a minute, Spanish is an ideal language for delivering commands.
The more you use your commands, the deeper they’ll be embedded in your memory, and the more it’ll become second nature to use Spanish in your daily life.
You’ll start off using these commands multiple times per day, since that’s how often you’ll need to communicate with your dog. Over time, your brain will claim these Spanish words and phrases for its own, making you a little more like a true native speaker.
The Benefits of Learning Spanish Dog Commands
If you’re seeking to master the Spanish language, dog training is an excellent opportunity to practice your skills. Soon, you’ll be a regular Cesar Millan.
- Give clean and clear commands. Dogs respond better to clear commands, and the Spanish language is perfect for this. It’s a crisp language with distinct sounds. It’s also a phonetic language, not only easy for you to learn and pronounce—but also easy for your dog to understand! It’ll also help you use a harsher tone than you normally might in English, since English has relatively more soft, swallowed or lisping sounds mixed in, and dogs respond to tone more than anything else.
- Do what the K-9 officers do. Did you know that many K-9 officers in the United States learn their commands in German? This makes it so that very few people aside from their human police partners can command them. By learning commands in Spanish, you’ll have an exclusive line of communication with your dog.
- Practice Spanish more consistently. Your dog won’t learn from one single training session, and neither will you. You’ll need to be consistently practicing these dog commands to make them stick. By interacting with your dog frequently in Spanish, you’ll reinforce your Spanish and their obedience training.
- Learn useful Spanish vocabulary, common phrases and the command/imperative form. Dog commands are weirdly useful in the real world of human conversation. I’ve taught my dad all the dog commands needed to interact with my dog, and he’s used them cleverly to interact with my Spanish-speaking in-laws, to their great amusement. You’ll need to make some tweaks when talking to human beings, but it’s a nice start for learning common vocabulary and phrases. It’ll also give you solid, memorable practice with the Spanish imperative form which is used to make commands.
- Keep your dog active, obedient and happy. I swear, my dog has immense brain power and linguistic prowess thanks to learning commands in two languages. He’s always very curious and attentive when people are talking. I even suspect he’s able to understand full sentences. If he opened his mouth and words came out one day, I would only be mildly surprised. My theory is that he’s gotten a lot of positive interaction through listening to his humans—lots of training, fun, activities and praise. So, you can spoil your dog with attention by making them your favorite Spanish practice buddy!
- Have a killer party trick. If you can do a whole obedience routine with your dog in Spanish, your English-speaking guests will be endlessly impressed. When I have a shindig, you better believe Frodo’s in attendance and his trick routine is always a hit.
Of course, these dog commands are just a starting point for your Spanish learning. Take what you learn from your pup and reinforce it with other learning resources like FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Of course, your dog can watch with you—he is your bilingual learning buddy, after all.
Because I care, I’m sharing my own routine with my dog by teaching you these Spanish dog commands. Have fun with them!
20 Spanish Dog Commands to Learn with Your Furry Best Friend
1. Sí (Yes)
This will mostly be used in conjunction with praise and with tricks performed correctly. Master the sound of this Spanish word and you’ll eliminate one problematic gringo mistake: pronouncing the Spanish i with a long, flat English e sound, like “see.” Instead, it should be a shorter, sharper sound, as heard here on Forvo.
2. No (No)
At age 10, I adopted a golden retriever and named him Beau. At the vet’s, they told me to be very careful to make “no!” sound very different from his name, since they have similar sounds. In English, too many dog owners—even those who give their dogs very different-sounding names—make the mistake of giving out weak no’s that their dogs just don’t respond to.
So, this is one word that you need to pronounce sharply when you’re speaking to your dog in any language. Spanish makes this easier, because the sound of the Spanish no is naturally sharper and clearer without our long English o sound butting in. Just listen to how natives pronounce the Spanish no on Forvo, and I think you’ll hear what I mean.
3. Siéntate (Sit)
It’s a classic for a reason. Sometimes you just need that darn dog to sit down and stay put. It’s also the launching point for a bunch of other dog tricks (sit and stay, sit and lie down).
This is also an awesome Spanish lesson jam-packed into one tiny, little word that you’ll be using constantly with your pup. It’s a model example of the Spanish command form in action, for the reflexive verb sentarse. Pay attention to the accent mark on the first e for emphasis, and the personal pronoun te latched onto the end of the verb.
4. Arriba (Up)
This is a good command to have your dog stand up on his hind legs, jump up—or even jump up onto something like a chair (if that’s your thing).
It’s also generally a valuable vocabulary word for Spanish beginners, as it means “up” in any context you might want. For example, “I’m looking up” is “estoy mirando hacia arriba,” and “he’s upstairs” can be translated as “él está arriba.”
5. Abajo (Down)
This one I use to have my dog lie down, but I’ll give you another alternative for this below. This also works to get your dog off the furniture if he’s not allowed on the sofa or bed.
And of course, it’s also a useful word to learn, meaning both “down” and “below” in Spanish.
6. Echado/Échate (Lie down)
Echar is a multipurpose Spanish verb with tons of meaning in different contexts, including: put, place, pour, send, shoot, emit and give. It’s a hard-to-explain kind of verb.
In this case, we see a common usage of the verb in the context of dog training: to mean “lie down.” Échate is the command form version of the verb, and echado is the past participle. Both can be used as commands.
7. Ven (Come)
This is the irregular command form of venir (to come).
Notice how, with this and the other command form verbs above, we’re always using the second person singular form, which is the casual tú form. Speaking to your dog definitely qualifies as informal speech.
Though, in some Spanish-speaking countries, people prefer to use Usted and formal conjugations (third person singular) with dogs. Use whatever comes more naturally to you, depending on whatever regional Spanish you’re learning!
8. Aquí/Acá (Here)
You can combine these words with ven for extra clear and descriptive commands: ven aquí and ven acá.
The difference between these two words is slight, but aquí is more often used to describe an area (aquí estoy = here I am) while acá is more often used to describe an action, as in ven acá.
Where you are can also influence which word you use: In some countries, aquí is used as a more specific version of acá, though in this case both commands are correct. In addition, Acá is hardly ever used in Spain and is much more common in South America (for example, you practically never hear aquí in Argentina!).
You can also use these words on their own with your dog. For instance, when playing fetch, I’ll say “aquí!” and point to where I want him to drop the ball.
9. Trae (Fetch)
More fetch vocabulary!
After you throw the ball and your dog’s collected it, say “trae!” This is the command form of the verb traer, which means “to bring.”
10. ¡Muy Bien! (Very Good!)
After all this training, you’re going to need this phrase.
Keep in mind the difference between bien and bueno. It’s like the difference between “well” and “good” in English. You do something well (bien) and are good (bueno). This phrase, muy bien, expresses that your dog has done something well.
Buen perro would be “good dog!”
11. Quieto (Stay)
Yes, quieto does look like “quiet,” and for good reason. It technically translates to “still,” “calm” or “peaceful.”
That’s why it works great for “stay” when training your dog. Give this command with the classic, international hand motion for “stop,” palm out and fingers pointing up.
12. Rápido (Fast/Faster)
Is your dog moving too slow? Use rápido to get him to pick up the pace.
13. Suelta(lo/la) (Let go/Drop it)
This command form verb comes from the verb soltar which means “let go” or “release.”
Notice that you can stick a direct object pronoun (lo or la) right after the conjugated verb to talk about whatever your dog is holding that they need to drop. In this case, you’ll need to add an accent for emphasis: suéltalo or suéltala.
Also, the Spanish version of Disney’s song “Let It Go” is aptly titled “Suéltalo.”
14. Vamos (Let’s go)
Even if you’ve never studied Spanish, you probably already knew this common Spanish word. Use it to keep your dog walking by your side when he wanders off!
15. Mírame (Look at me)
I never knew just how useful this command could be, but it can really keep your dog safe.
Is he distracted, sniffing around or staring down a squirrel and silently planning to sprint off? This command, given strongly—maybe even with a snap of the fingers—breaks the spell and gets your dog focused on you, ready for your next command.
It’s the command form of mirar (to look [at]) with me (me) added at the end.
16. Sale (Out of here)
While traveling in Latin America, you’ll hear this everywhere while walking around—it’s the go-to way to say “shoo!” and people are thus always saying “sale!” to get street dogs away from them, or out of their stores. (Though some countries use another word, fuera, to mean the same thing.)
Well, people also use this for their own dogs when they’re somewhere they’re not supposed to be. If you want to direct a dog out of your kitchen so he doesn’t eat the chocolate you spilled on the floor, say “sale!” and gently shoo him out of the room with a wave of your arms.
17. ¡No comas! (Don’t eat that!)
Of course, you can get even more specific to stop your dog from eating something, using the negative command form of comer (to eat).
18. Silencio (Quiet/Silence)
Stop your dog from barking with this Spanish noun, which sounds just like you’d expect the Spanish version of “silence” to sound.
19. Dame la pata / Hola (Give me your paw)
Aw, now here’s a fun trick! Either be very specific about the action with dame la pata (directly translating to “give me your paw”) or be even cuter about it and just say hola (hello) with your hand extended.
The latter option is a little more fun—later on, you can tell newcomers to your house to say “hi” to your dog this way, and they’ll get a kick out of the response.
20. ¡Perro malo! (Bad dog!)
For every good dog, there must be a bad dog. Not to end on a negative note, but sometimes you’ll just need to let your pup know he’s done wrong. Here’s the appropriate phrase, which can also be shortened to just malo (bad).
Well, now you’re fully prepared to teach your dog commands in Spanish!
I’d recommend devoting at least 20 minutes per day to practicing your commands. Start with the simplest ones and repeat until they’re totally mastered, then add additional tricks to the routine.
Within a few weeks of dedicated practice, you can expect to have a much better trained dog—along with better Spanish skills!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.