What’s in your dog’s repertoire? We all know the standard cues we use with our dogs–Sit, Stay, Lie Down, Come. (Some of our dogs actually do too.) But cruising through old blogs led me to this post from 2012 about “non-traditional” cues that some of us use. I was gobsmacked at how many responses it got (182), and also motivated to think about what cues I still use most often.
I do indeed ask my dogs to sit, lie down and come when called often, but much more often I ask the dogs to Wait, (One of the commenters called it a ‘Soft Stay”. Love that.), Get Back (are you listening Mr Willie?), Enough (several folks use All Done) and Settle Down, which means please go somewhere else and chill out. Also Hup for jump, Go Around, Enough, Here (sloppy heel).
There are so many other great ideas in the comments linked above, including a “big truck back up beep” for Get Back, Shake Off, Do You Wanna?, Ready?, Touch, Watch, Move Over or Excuse Me and my absolute favorite, Whoops, when a dog makes a mistake. I forgot about “whoops” until now, but love how saying it sounds so happy and forgiving. I’m going to add that to my repertoire.
What about you? What cues do you use the most? What are the most novel?
Here’s another question for you–if you only had three words you could say to your dog, what would you choose? Without much thought, I’d pick 1) their name, 2) Good! as reinforcement, and 3) Wait. (I use clapping as a recall, and can imagine using hand signals for most of the other cues. Wait I use all the time when they are not looking at me.) You?
MEANWHILE, back on the farm. The biggest news is that I am indeed back on the farm, after a brief, but whirlwind speaking tour that included four talks in three days. I left home last week exhausted from a crisis at the farm regarding some nasty remodeling complications, but came home full of energy and inspiration from all the wonderful things going on in Wisconsin.
First off, I spoke at UW River Falls, and had the pleasure of meeting some rock star women who are doing amazing things. Dr. Beth Rausch created River Fall’s Companion Animal Program, a world class program that includes five different courses related to companion animals, and the ADEPT program in which students can intern with an assistance dog program and act as raisers as trainers of dogs-in-training. Here are some of the students and dogs. (The dogs get to live with the students and vice versa. Wow.)
I got to meet some of the students and their dogs, along with Linda Ball, the Executive Director of the assistance dog program, Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs. She recently took her sweet, stable and love-sponge dog to Mongolia to introduce the concept of assistance dogs. Some stories there for sure! Here is Linda and her dear, dear dog whose name I can’t remember.
This part of my trip was thanks to Dr. Kathleen Hunzer, Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program, who was my host and an absolute inspiration about how many wonderful things can be done by women determined to do good things in the world. My hat is off to all three of them.
The next day I was immersed in the Chippewa Valley Book Festival, which was equally inspiring in the sense that in I felt bathed in brilliant writing and the people who love reading it. Friday night’s talk and reading was from Tessa Fontaine, the author of The Electric Woman. The entire audience was so riveted by her memoir (she ran away to a side show and ate fire, as a way of dealing with her mother’s stroke) that you could hear a pin drop while she was speaking. Grateful thanks to my host Amy Alpine and Pam Gardow, Librarian at Memorial High School in Eau Claire. Pam arranged for me to speak to several high school classes about The Education of Will, which was a wonderful experience.
And here are the dogs I took with me when I traveled. I was feeling a bit, uh, needy, so I brought the two dogs who travel the best. Please don’t hesitate to laugh out loud or shake your head with eyes rolling. Doesn’t matter to me, whatever works, right?