Dogs don’t come into this world knowing English, so it’s our job to teach them a little bit of English so we can communicate with them. Pairing the behavior with the word at the same time or having the word just before the behavior will teach the dog the word, rewarding with a tasty treat afterwards will get you more of that behavior. But saying “sit” 10 times will not work. If your dog did not do the behavior after 2 tries, he doesn’t know it well enough, the context is different and he doesn’t know it there, or there are too many distractions. That’s when you go back to how you taught the behavior, which might be putting the treat on the dog’s nose and luring them into the sit or down. Patience will get you and your dog both want you want.
Consistency in the words we use is the key to teaching our dogs “English as a second language”. You are welcome to use these or use your own, just make sure that everyone in the family is using the same word and hand signal. Remember, verbal cues mean nothing to your dog until you show him what they mean.
Naming tricks is really fun, because it’s what you call it that makes it super funny. Like “Dance like a Rock Star” for a little twirl.
I’d love to hear your favorite and most used behaviors and the words you use for them.
Sit, Down, Stay & Off – These are universal words in the USA for these behaviors. I think it’s best to use these words, because someone will probably take care of your dog at some point and if you use the word “bugger” for stay, it’s going to be hard for someone else to know and/or use this.
Come, Here or Come Here – Stop what you are doing and come directly to me.
Down – lie down on the ground (not get off of something)
Stay – In a sit or down, do not move until I release you.
Off – get off of something (a person or the couch).
Dog’s Name – Look at me and wait for instructions.
Okay, Free, Release, Go Play, At ease, Bingo – you are released from whatever I was asking you to do.
Oops, Uh O, you made a mistake. Let’s try again.
Take it, Hold it – Take food or object into your mouth.
Drop it , Release, Gracias – Release the item from your mouth.
Leave it – Do not go towards that thing nor take it into your mouth. Look away from whatever you are looking at or moving towards.
Touch, Say Hi, Kisses, Target – Tough your nose to a designated target (could be your hand, side of your leg or anything else).
Wait – Stop moving forward.
Yes, Good, Click What you are doing at this exact moment is perfect and you just earned a treat.
Too Bad, Time Out – That behavior is unacceptable, so I am taking away the good stuff.
Good Dog, Good Boy, Good Girl – These are great for bridging commands, such as your dog running towards you on a come or during a stay. Good Dog, keep it up. Let’s Go, Let’s Walk, Walk – Walk by me on a loose leash.
Watch, Look, Watch Me – Look at me in the eyes.
Eh Eh, WhoHoo, Hey or Clap Hands – Interrupt whatever the dog is doing, then redirect to something else.
No – Some trainers don’t use this at all, but I think because it’s in our language so much, it’s going to get used. My suggestion is to use it one of these two ways. #1 Save the “NO”, for big things like “let go of the cat”, “don’t cross that street”. #2 Say “no” in a low monotone voice, no emotion. What you don’t want is to be saying NO all day long, or yelling it a lot! It’s just not effective for you or the dog. “No”should mean stop that and/or interrupt the behavior. That’s why I recommend using the sound above, a eh, eh most of the time.
All Done, Take a Break, That’s All – This activity is over, like fetch, we are DONE!