Outside, Go Potty, Hurry Up, Go Pee
Ready to Eat, You Hungry,
No, Stop, Enough, Aaak, Leave it, Quit,
Come, Here, C’mon, Let’s go, C’mere
How often are you using words interchangeably or without actually thinking which word you should be using? Have you practiced and actually taught the dog what the words mean?
Most of us are just using loud words or excited words to invoke a response from their dog. Frankly we “react” without much precision to our language, movement, or follow-through.
But the fact is, lack of clarity will create a lack of consistency for you and your dog. When the stakes are high and you need your do to a very specific thing in a hurry, you may or may not get consistent results.
It doesn’t matter if you use a set of vocalizations, English words or Pig Latin Words — just use the same words consistently by all members of the family, in the same situations.
Tone and timing. Matters.
Our Basic Command List
· Come – move to me and sit in front
· Sit – Put your butt on the ground and stay until released.
· Down – butt, body, elbows on the ground
· Heel – Walk with me at my side – without pulling or lagging behind
· Place – stay on your mat calmly
· Watch Me – make eye contact with me
· Look – Look at that
· Leave-it – Don’t put that in your mouth (ever)
· Out – Give that object (toy, food bowl, bone, etc) to me, and I will give it back or give you something else valuable
· Off – don’t put your feet up on that
· Okay – you’re free to move and play
· Go Potty – get your business done
· Let’s Go – a casual move with me.
· Ready?! – let’s play
· We do not use Stay – you are either in command or not. Stay is implied between command and new command or release.
· Good!!! – you did it right. Good Job.
· That’s it – encouragement to keep trying something new / learning
· That’s Better – you finally got the behavior right – after having to be corrected.
· Nope/No – error made when asked to do something
· Enough – game over, stop barking, we’ll do it again later
· Aaak/Stop! — Don’t do that. Don’t lick me. Don’t put your feet on the back of another dog. Don’t hump.
· HEY!!! – universal all dogs halt what you’re doing.
· Load-up – get in the car.
There are others we use for other skills. But these will get you through the basics!
For what it’s worth – grunts and vocalizations, hand signals, body language, or just energy can communicate effectively with your dog, if you are consistent and crystal clear. Don’t’ be ambiguous! And don’t be confusing. Practice. Practice again. Tune-up. And practice some more to create muscle memory for you both.
And for the record, yes, I have conversations with my dogs every day. Whole sentences and less strict word choices. The commands show up when it’s not negotiable and I expect the dog to do what I told him immediately.
I too am working on clarity and consistency of language every day.