How To Teach Your Dog To Speak Any Language: Some Rules For Selecting Command Words!

One of my readers sent me this e-mail a few weeks ago. He states: “I enjoy your newsletter and wish to thank you for the time that it (obviously) takes to put together this publication.

I applied your training method regarding the “crawl” as described in your last newsletter, and my border collie cross had it down pat within 10 mins. The particular command that you use to guide the dog, is not important to the dog, in my opinion. (as long as you are consistent). After all, dogs don’t speak English or Spanish or French, or any other human language. They respond to the SOUND of the word or command.

For instance, instead of “shake a paw”, my dog responds to “gimme 5” … rather than command her to “sit up and beg”, I tell her to “gimme 10”. The result is exactly the same, and the dog responds to the command that it knows. My point is, that to humans, telling a dog to “gemmie 10”, (rather than “sit and beg”) is far less demeaning to the dog. Even though the dog couldn’t care less if you said either phrase, or said “xyzabcquerdt”, as long as it is the same command.

It is only to the human ear that the command is offensive. Instead of “crawl”, my command to my dog is “do the swim”. Same training methods, same rewards, it does not matter to the dog. However, when I tell her to “do the swim” as opposed to “crawl”, her human admirers are much more pleased and receptive to her many charms. Just a note on human nature!”

Why this works:

When dogs learn, they learn through association. And what this means is that anything you associate with a behavior, will become the trigger for that behavior. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be a word. It can be a sound, or an effect (like a whistle, or click of the tongue). It can be a hand signal. Or it can even be a sequence of events.


For example, have you ever noticed that your dog starts to get excited when you put on your shoes and grab your car keys? Even before you head to the door, you’ve inadvertently done a sequence of events which has acted as an informal command to tell your dog to “Get ready! We’re leaving.” Many movie dogs are trained with hand signals or other commands which can be blended with the background sound of the environment.

A Trick We Use For Personal Protection Dogs

Instead of using a command such as, “Attack!” or “Sick ’em”… I use the command, “Easy.” The dog learns that when I say, “Easy!” that he should start to fire up and show aggression. But to a potential attacker, the only thing he sees is a vicious dog and an owner who can hardly keep the dog back. In fact, the dog looks so violent that the owner is actually telling him to “Take it Easy.” 😉 Criminals don’t like unpredictable factors. Especially violent, aggressive dogs that the owner APPEARS to be only barely able to restrain.

Plus, if a legal situation should ever arise out of the conflict (yes, criminals do sue!)… any witness will attest to the fact that you were NOT “sicking the dog” on the perpetrator, but rather were trying to restrain the dog. Pretty sneaky, eh? –Of course, now the cat is out of the bag, now! But in any event, you can see the plethora of ways you can play on the dog’s ability to associate a word or sequence of events with a specifc behavior. Only your creativity is the limit!