How to Teach Your Dog to Play Red Light, Green Light

by Todd Bowerman

Teaching a dog to stop has safety benefits as well as play benefits.

Dogs are immensely intelligent animals; you can teach a dog to do practically anything if you have patience, determination and a big bag of treats. Teaching your pup the basics of “Red Light, Green Light,” requires that you teach the two commands separately, then combine them once the dog has a firm grasp on both. As with all training, a positive, enthusiastic approach will yield the best results.

Teaching the Red Light Command

Step 1

Ask your dog to sit. Walk a few steps away from your dog (if your dog cannot sit and wait for a few seconds, you’ll need to work on that first).

Step 2

Stand and face your dog with a treat in your hand. Call the dog toward you.

Step 3

Raise your hand, making a “stop” signal similar to a police officer directing traffic. Forcefully say “red light” and take a step toward your dog. This is usually enough to stop the dog in its tracks.

Step 4

Toss the treat to the dog and praise him for successfully stopping. Reset the training activity and try again.

Step 5

Repeat these steps through several short training sessions. Gradually increase distance until your dog can reliably stop on the “red light” command from any distance.

Teaching Green Light

Step 1

Ask your dog to sit and take a few steps away from him.

Step 2

Face your dog with a treat in hand. Enthusiastically say “green light” and motion for your dog to come.

Step 3

Reward the dog with a treat and praise when he reaches you. Reset the training activity and repeat it a few times until the behavior is solid.

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