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

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


  • Once your dog stops on the “red light” command and comes on the “green light” command, you can mix the two behaviors. Call him with “green light” and stop him with “red light.” Remember to reward him for continued success.

An Item You Will Need

  • Dog treats