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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am ashamed to admit that neither of my previous dogs had much in the way of formal training. We spoke to them like household members and both were smart enough to get the gist of what we were saying to them. But there is a down side to using everyday vocabulary with dogs. Over the years, "dinner" meant time for our dog to eat. We humans started calling our evening meal "Big D," so the furball didn't think he was getting a second evening meal. We also had to spell words and phrases like "car ride," "cookie," "outside," "treat," and "bone." If we didn't spell, our dog thought we were talking to him.

My new pup comes home in three weeks. I'm wracking my brain to think of command words that I want to use and conversation words that I want to avoid. As I research traditional commands, I wonder if some of them sound too similar: Drop-it; leave-it; get-it; take-it. Won't those "it" sounds at the end of the phrase confuse the dog? What about "heel" and "here?"

I'd love to hear what words you've taught your dog, both formally in training and informally in everyday conversation, and if you wished you used other words instead.
 

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I talk conversationally to my dogs too. Not ashamed of it lol. They know that " come on bud " is different from " COME ". I use a different tone and I'm sure body language for non-negotiable commands vs " conversational". If you want to have words for certain commands that wont get mixed up in everyday talk you can use command words in a different language. German seems to work well for alot of people.
 

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As much as I love training, if I had to get rid of one enrichment activity, formal training sessions would be it. As you've discovered, dogs learn a lot through just everyday interaction and consistency, and for a lot of households that's enough to wind up with a dog with decent manners. I'm glad I don't have to give it up, mind you! But I think that for the most part, people can choose what level of formal training they want to do (assuming they compensate by providing mental stimulation in other ways, of course!).

Tone is a big part of it, as [email protected] says. For example, I tend to say "drop it" like "drop it!" but "get it" like "get it!", so the emphasis on certain words or syllables can definitely make two cues that look similar on paper sound really different in practice. I started recall training with "come", but did it so clumsily that I replaced it with "here" at some point. But tbh he also responds to his full name in most cases. We don't call him "Samwise" a lot in normal conversation, and again, the tone is different when we call him vs. are just talking about/to him, so it works for us.

But really, cues can be whatever you want. I'm a big nerd so Sam's "come to a heel position and sit" cue is "respawn". And since I've never trained a formal heel cue, I use "with me" instead of "heel" (it's a "walk close to me" cue, but he's not in formal heel position). We did a lot of his foundation training before we moved to Norway, as you might've guessed, but using Norwegian cues is also an option for us if we want something really different.
 

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My dog responds far better to hand signals. I figured this out because every time I accidentally give the wrong signal with a voice command he follows the hand signal :p. This is pretty normal from what I've read, and some dogs it can make a HUGE difference adding hand signals. I have a few trick commands he only responds to by hand signals and some like "come" I use only voice commands for. If you end up with 2 commands that confuse the dog, just add a hand signal to one or both. Also I use "leave it", "take it", "drop it" and "get it" with no issues.
 

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I used all English commands and in Schutzhund/IPO soon to be IGP most use German commands. It was a mess to use English so I went to German.

Pfuie "Fooeee" is leave it.
Hier is "Here" and means come.
Sitz is Sit
Platz is down.
Gib Blaut is speak.

I still use "No" and a negative marker (and non the German Nine) and I use Yes (or a click) as a positive marker.

I do not use Stay. It is a redundant useless command. If the dog is sitting or lying down, he should be staying.

I do use Sta which sounds like Shhhhtaaay. It means Stand.

Not much repetition in sound there.
 

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I use a lot of "casual" terms and "formal" terms with my dogs. For example, "Let's go" means "let's proceed from point A to point B without yanking my arm out of its socket". "Heel" on the other hand, means "get into position on my left side, and stay in that position, no matter what direction I move in". "Go park it" means "go lie down somewhere where I won't be tripping over you". "Down" means "lie down where you are, and don't move until I tell you otherwise".

For my two, "formal" training sessions are the highlight(s) of the day, because they know they will be getting lots of attention and food.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If mine was a protection dog, I might have considered German. But with house pet it would seem akin to using military lingo with a child. Halt! Attention! Dismissed! :)
I briefly considered Spanish, even though I only understand about five non-food words in the language.

The "Park It," "Take a Load Off" and "Respawn" commands are awesome! You've inspired me to think outside the traditional training box.

Daysleepers, I was never good at using "come" or "here" as commands. I think it's because the words are too breathy for me to use it loudly. I thought about using "aqui" (Spanish for here) but maybe I'll pick something completely off the wall for her recall word, like "U-Turn" or "Jackpot."
 

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There's also the classic whistle (if you can either do it loudly or don't mind carrying around a literal whistle). But I'm also partial to Grisha Stewart's suggestion of using "Treat Party!" - it's got the added psychological effect that the human is less likely to forget to reward the recall because it feels more like 'lying' to the dog to say "treat party" and then not deliver, haha! I bet using 'Jackpot' would work similarly. Thought it was pretty brilliant, and I'm working on turning it into an emergency recall, though we're not there yet.
 
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