How do dogs communicate? Do dogs actually understand human vocabulary? The answers to these questions have been studied for many years and YES dogs can be conditioned to understand over 1000 human words!
I teach my dog training customers that dogs can literally learn ANY word for ANY command or wanted behavior. Through routine conditioning and daily command work your dog has the intelligence and training potential to retain a large amount of learned behavior.
A dogs vocabulary will consist of whatever words you choose to teach them. “Sit” is the most basic where your dog will learn to sit for you on command. Some handlers may use another language such as German for a protection dog, thus proving that the dog could learn this one command with more than one command word. I teach my customers the importance of not only using verbal commands when dog training, but simultaneously with visual commands as well. The benefit of BOTH verbal and visual commands is if your dog can’t see you they will be able to hear you.
When dog training, try to use basic everyday words to communicate with your dog. Example: When working on the “heel” command, if your dog pulls, try stopping to condition your dog that pulling equals NO forward motion. Then, use everyday words like “chill”, or “relax”, or whatever your common phrasing would be for this instance. You will begin to see your dog actually making connections with these new words! For more info. on training a dog to walk on a leash click HERE.
Now that you have conditioned your dog to understand various everyday words, you can now incorporate them into your daily dog training routines. Try these new word phrases when you feed, groom, walk, or play with your dog. You will begin to see the connection with them in the resulting behaviors of your dog. All these words can be personalized by YOU the handler. Try to keep the standard training commands as standard as possible, i.e. sit, leave it, come, and stay. This way, if your neighbor tries to command your dog, they will most likely obey them.
Lastly, always be observant of your body language towards your dog. Dogs not only understand verbal vocabulary, but communicate greatly with each other through various body language cues. If your dog is not listening to you then try making yourself appear larger with your shoulders erect, OR a spread legged posture. By doing this, you will command a greater visual body presence and appear more as a pack leader.
With daily consistency of verbal and visual simultaneous commands, you will achieve the quickest dog training results. Don’t sell yourself short! Your dog has the capability of learning and retaining just about as much as you do.
** For a more in depth look at the intelligence of dogs, read the book: The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think
Since 2005, Mark Siebel has trained over 6000 satisfied K’9’s and customers alike. The goal has always been to show owners how to properly integrate their dog into the home setting. Consulting on what breed of dog to buy, where to buy/rescue from, preparing your home for your new puppy and health/nutrition are just a few ways DOGGIE STEPS helps its customers.