A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the cue “Get Back,” which is one of my favorites because it is so useful in so many contexts. Katie Martz, Communications Coordinator here at PMcC, video taped Willie getting back in a variety of contexts, and we noticed that every time I said “Get Back” in a context in which he’d rather not, he tongue flicked. That led to a very interesting discussion with readers about why he was tongue flicking, but distracted us from the reason we did the taping: the usefulness of “non-traditional” cues in dog training. Yes, we all need Come, and Sit and Stay; I can’t imagine what I would do without them. But there are a variety of cues that are equally useful, but not as common or well known. I thought it would be fun to canvass readers to learn about their favorite “non-traditional” cues, and perhaps add to the vocabularies of all of us. Here are just a few to get us started:
ENOUGH: Along with “Get Back,” I also love “Enough,” no doubt in part because I have had dogs (and still do) willing to elicit play or petting until all the entire Antarctic ice pack melts and we are all paddling to work. There’s a video of Enough training in the Reading Room on the website, it’s the Second from the Top. I use it when I want to focus on important issues, including whether Castle and Beckett will ever have a relationship like normal people, when I am done playing with toys with Willie, and when I simply can not stroke Tootsie’s adorable little round belly pooch for one more minute.
TAKE IT/DROP IT: I teach Drop It as the flip side of Take It, and I find I use both of them often. As in: Please drop the dead bird you found, or please pick up your toy and bring it back in the house. I know these aren’t especially ‘non-traditional’ but they often aren’t taught in training classes and I wish they were. Far better to teach Drop It as a fun exercise rather than reflexively shouting DROP IT! in an angry voice and teaching your dog to swallow as fast as she can when she hears it. That seems to be the default of most dog owners, an understandable primate-like response, but not a good way to establish a good relationship with your dog. I’d love to see it as part of dog training curricula and have included it in The Puppy Primer.
READY? This is a standard signal a lot of serious trainers use, but I wish again it was more common place. I love looking at Willie and asking him if he wants to engage with me. The key here is asking. It’s not a command or even a cue really, in the sense that I’m simply asking Willie if he’d like to start training something new or practicing something old. Any answer is acceptable and I have no expectations of his response, except as information. If he doesn’t turn to me, eyes shining, then he’s not ready, and I change my behavior until he is. Because the sound so often leads to working sheep or doing something that elicits treats or play, Willie seems to love the word as much as I do.
OUT: Katie Martz uses this with Lily, her beautiful Dogo. She uses it when she’s chopping vegetables in the kitchen, to prevent Lily the 90 lb white wonder from dancing on the counters in delight. Out means either go to another room or another surface (floor to carpet for example) or, essentially, stop bothering me right now. She taught it by tossing treats into the other room and body blocking her from coming back in. Lily seems to define it the same way Katie does (often rare in training, right?), because she will respond correctly to it in a new house or apartment.
WHAT’S YOURS? This is just a partial list, and I’d love to hear what “Non-Traditional” signals you use with your dogs that you especially love. I envision a very interesting discussion about it, thanks to all our thoughtful readers. I fully expect I’ll be teaching Willie a new cue by the end of the weekend….
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: It’s gorgeous but desperately dry. I am watering the trees in the yard, but who knows what will happen in the woods and the prairies. But it has been stunningly beautiful, one of the prettiest autumns ever. Dry conditions, followed by sunny days and cool nights are apparently ideal for fall color, and that has been the case here to a T. The sheep are doing well, although that’s not the answer you would get if you asked them. They are confined to the pen because the pastures are little better than dirt. It’s sad to see, but I have had excellent advice from a pasture specialist (thank you Laura) and have a plan to rehabilitate starting next spring. I’m taking soil samples in this week to get that part done now anyway, and we are, one by one, ridding the area of the thistles we didn’t get this spring. (Thistles appear to be drought proof apparently, such a shame they are not edible.)
However, thanks to Jim, who is the primary portable fence mover, the sheep are able to get some grass from selected areas in the front of the farm. In the photo below they are eating the lush grasses right alongside the road. This is the best grass on the farm: it’s a low area that gathers rain run off from a culvert, is shaded much of the day and is mowed by the county on a regular basis. There is a tiny bit of grass in other areas of the front lawn, and thanks to Jim, Willie and the portable fencing, the sheep will be able to get some of it. Most of their ration is the hay we purchased for winter, which we are going through at an alarming rate. But it’s good, rich alfalfa and the sheep are actually doing well on it.
Last Sunday we all got out for a lovely fall walk in the fields and woods close to a good friend’s house. Willie’s shoulder has improved enough so that he is now off leash again. When I had to put him back on leash, both inside and out, he became as depressed as any dog I’ve seen. It was, in a word, heartbreaking. Now that he can run free again he is back to his happy, happy self. We saw his physical therapist on Monday and she strongly advised that we go very, very slowly trying to bring him back to training for competition. It’s clear that his shoulder simply may never be able to handle the wear and tear involved in training for driving on a perfectly straight line, something that requires a tremendous amount of lateral stress on shoulder joints. If he can’t ever trial again I don’t think he’d care at all, as long as he can work sheep at home. It’s me that wants to trial, so although it would be a great disappointment to drop out now that I’ve caught the bug again, if Willie is happy, that’ll be enough for me. I’ll get over it, and Willie will not care one little bit. I’ll see how it goes, going very slowly and carefully.
Here’s the gang on the wooded part of our walk: Willie, Jim, Tootsie, good friend Beth Viney of Great Pyrenees Rescue of Wisconsin and her lovely lady, Tundra. Willie and Tundra did beautifully when they were re-introduced at the beginning of our walk (they had met once before, I have a video of it on my Dog-Dog Reactivity DVD and we all had a grand old time. Tootsie did get carried by me or Jim part of the way, the grasses were pretty high in some places and what was a path to us was a jungle to her. Short of teaching her to use a machete, we picked her up and carried her. But she was a trooper and still did a lot of walking, and we all had a wonderful time. Then Jim and I went back to doing farm chores, worked outside most of the afternoon, and ate a yummy dinner of local, organic pork, roasted root veggies and home made bread. We fell in bed about 9 o’clock and slept as if we’d been drugged. Hopefully there will be more of the same this weekend (the walks, farm chores and good food, we’ll pass on the “as if drugged” part.)
I love “Up” and “off” which mean to jump onto or off of something, like the bed, or the car seat.
Also, I have a dog with allergies who needs a bath every couple of weeks so I taught her “Shakeoff” so she would shakeoff the water in the tub with shower doors closed to help me get her dry without wetting up the bathroom.
I’m such a newbie to dogs that I don’t even know what counts as “non-traditional.” We do use “All Done!” which is your “Enough.” “Ready?” here means “are you ready to go catch this ball?” and is far to exciting to use casually.
We also taught our dog to run on cue while on his leash. He’s so scared of cars that sometimes the only way I can get him across a parking lot is to say, “Let’s Run!” Or, it will mean run around in the park like crazies, instead of walking. He doesn’t eat outside (high strung, and not very food motivated), so “Let’s Run!” also works as a reward for things like attention or a certain distance of loose-leash walking. Do what I want for a while, then we’ll do what you want.
Let’s see…when Elka and I are out for a walk, much of it is sidewalk. I use “Move over” for her to walk on the grass, so I can give people passing enough room. “Heel” means to heal on my right, “Fuss” means to switch and heel on the left, which can be useful for passing delivery personnel, unidentified stuff on the sidewalk, etc.
“Pick it up” is a cue that sometimes also requires the prompt “In my hand” (though not always). If I’ve dropped an object, or indicate something already on the floor/ground, Elka will pick it up. For handling objects in this sense, she has a very soft mouth, and it’s useful if you’ve dropped your glasses and can’t see to find them.
“Take it” and “Take it to [person’s name]”: We can hand an object, ranging from a can of soda to an envelope, to Elka and have her take it (unharmed) to a person in the house. Hilariously, she will also mug somebody of their empty can or bottle of soda and take it to the kitchen, to be put in the returns bin (she doesn’t bin it herself yet).
“Find it!” is mostly a fun one (finding the Gumby toy, as a for instance), but she will also find socks when I’m doing laundry, and we’re working on finding my fiance’s wallet.
I find I use “Wait” far more often than “stay”: on a street corner while looking both ways, at the front door when getting the leash on, putting food/water in bowls, when people are entering the house.
I guess it depends on what one means by “non-traditional.” I certainly have a bunch of cues that aren’t traditional for most people who have dogs, but certainly are for people doing agility! Things like “touch” (come down to the bottom of the contact and touch the ground with your nose while having two feet on the contact and two off), “teeter” (a cue to remind her that it’s the teeter, not the dog walk!), “walk it” (take the A-Frame). I use “Go” a lot and use it mostly to mean “Go out ahead of me and take that obstacle in your path”).
I use “Ready” to get her hyped up for a run.
I’ve been working on teaching her the cue “Alpha roll!!” for roll over as some sort of big joke.
And I’ve been working on teaching her to bark. As she is a super quiet dog who barks at almost nothing, I’ve had to use one specific thing to get her to bark. So the cue is becoming “Where’s the horseys?”
emily douglas says
My absolute favorite and most frequently-used command is “go to your place”. I learned this during a Settling Workshop with our therapy dog trainer and it has become invaluable in our multi-dog household. We have mats all over our great room/kitchen area. Most of the time, the dogs will head to their mats by default. But if somebody is getting under foot or getting in the way, a “go to your place” is all that’s needed to send them back to the periphery of the room.
Thanks to Michelle McCarthy of K9 Homeschooling in Southeast Michigan!
“eyes” instead of “watch me”
“do a spider” for “put your back legs up on a wall/bed/chair, or something”
‘go noodles” for the weaves on agility, If I say weave, she will weave between my legs.
“think” and she will do anything she is doing slower
“be careful” for climb the ladder in the children playground
“orbit” for make a circle
“hop it” to jump on top of something, etc.
Kait Roe says
So my favorite non-traditional cue happened accidentally. I had a pretty big Rotti X and she was constantly getting into places without enough room to turn around. I jokingly started the “big truck back up beep” while teaching her to back up. In not very long at all, the only thing I had to do was make a “beep” noise and she would start backing up no matter where she was. A “Garbo, beep beep beep” and she would back up from her bowl, back up from a child, back up from a fence. It became very handy, especially later in her life when she went blind and couldn’t see a set of stairs, or something else she might trip over. She died of cancer at age 7 but what a fun thing to watch a 120# Rottie back up just like a dump truck.
Mufaasa's Mum says
I’ve got “OUT”, “READY” (which I use to rev him up before doing a sequence in agility or chasing a frisbee), “Whoops!” which I use when training a sequence (like weave poles) in order to say “Good try but that wasn’t it, but if you try again and you still might get a reward.” I think Susan Garrett refers to that last one as a “non-reward marker” which makes keeping my pooch’s energy up. I also use “What is it?” literally to see what’s got my dog so excited when he’s trying to get my attention (does he think it’s dinner time, time to go for a pee, is he just bored? Did he loose his ball under the book shelf again?). I also have “MOVE” for when he inexplicably decides to lie down in front of the fridge when I’m trying to get milk for my morning coffee. That last one is a very useful command to have when living with a 50lb dog in a condo!
I use “wait” (aka “just hang on a minute there, missy”) “ready?” or “do you wanna…?” (something fun’s gonna happen), “go-go-go” (run fast beside the bike as I try to keep up with her), “go say hi” (not so much a command as an acknowledgement that the new dog or person is ok to get to know), and something that’s turned out to be very useful in the dog park – “that’s not your toy/ball”. Combined with “leave it” (she hasn’t touched it yet) or “drop it” (she grabbed it from another dog), it means we’re not playing with that, the other dog gets his toy back and we can all leave with the toy or ball we came with. I then treat her and/or make sure she has her ball instead so she’s rewarded for being so polite.
Meghan F. says
I always liked using “go around”, with my dog, Eli, as in, your leash has gotten tangled, “go around” or you’re on a leash, you can’t walk on that side of the tree in our path, “go around” always helpful.
In other news, Costa Rica is beautiful, but I miss thinking about Human Animal Relationships, and I miss dogs in general! I’ll be home for a month in November!
Eden Halbert says
With my own dogs, I use “Chill” for a sit-stay, “Touch!” for a hand-targeted recall instead of saying “come!” and I taught one of my dogs “shimmy” which means to shake water off after swimming or a bath. And of course I teach a few fun tricks, like “yoga time!” for a deep play bow. With clients, I help them choose basic commands that work best for them, and many of them enjoy having something a little non-traditional which lets them express their personality.
Octopus Gallery says
We’ve a couple of things where the cue is different from the traditional, like “Use your words!” for “Speak” (my mom’s a kindergarten teacher). Our version of “Out” is “Get out of the kitchen” which evolved probably exactly as you think.
“Stand on this” was something we taught our dog mostly as a way to take nice pictures. Point to a stump for her to leap up on and stand nicely and there you go, great Facebook photo. It’s proven very useful at the vet for getting her on the scale.
We use ‘settle” to get Zanzi to calm down when she sees a squirrel on our walks. “All gone” means no more treat and then she stops staring at me as only Aussies and B Cs can do. “Who’s a brave girl?” is her cue to come between my legs – very handy when I’m answering the door.
Lori A. says
We actually taught our cat “out.” It’s such a useful cue! Our dog has picked it up fast, too.
Jo Cook says
“Hit the Road”. Which means basically vacate the area you are in, very handy.
We have ‘All Gone’ two open hands clearly showing that there are no more treats, to get other dogs to stop begging when I’m busy working with my two.
Also, ‘Spit’ which started as ‘Spit it out’ as I have one who picks up almost anything from food, to tissues, little pieces of foam balls or tennis balls (perfect for choking on or blocking up guts), wrappers etc. While it isn’t brilliantly successful when she’s found food (yet) amazingly the ball remnants and paper wrapping get spat back out for me to pick up and dispose of.
‘In the car’ is pretty obvious, but with two toy dogs (under 6kg/12 pounds each), I didn’t want a lifetime of excessively pampered, incapable little dogs. They’re pretty agile and go flying in to my small 4wd car in a second.
‘Go for coffee?’ they know all about as they love sharing a cuddle over the newspaper at one of our local cafes. It also means plenty of treats to help with good behaviour from my reactive one if there are other dogs nearby.
‘Who’s That?’ is guarantees a super excited response as they go searching for someone that they know well – family, friends etc.
I like ‘up’ too, Elizabeth, although my versions are ‘hop up!’ (or hop down). Useful for getting in and out of my SUV, on and off the bed, onto benches, rocks, etc., for posing for pictures and much more.
Another of my favorites is ‘this way.’ I use it all the time when my girls are off leash or on a long line. While they’re enjoying their free time, sniffing and running and going over here and over there, ‘this way’ means get going in the same direction that I am going. They don’t have to come over to me but I like this cue as a way to keep us somewhat together without interrupting their free time. It’s also handy to use to immediately turn my dog Shae away from a rabbit or other creature that she will chase if given that option.
My favorites are “Mgonna getcha,” which at this point inspires a wild lap around the yard or house without me even having to chase; “Find D___,” which means go lick my husband on the mouth; and “Cleanup!” a “take it” I use when I’ve dropped something dog-edible on the floor while cooking.
When I let my wild child out of her crate, I use “Release the Kracken!” to release her from her “wait”. It amuses me.
I love “Back Out” which means turn back toward me and sit in front of me. My TT had issues with GSD, Malamutes and Boxers. Using “back out” I could get to him before he got himself in a situation he couldn’t handle. When we were living in NYC this was a life saver. Unfortunately it does not seem to work with racoons now that we’ve moved to the suburbs of Chicago.
Janet Becker says
I use ” Settle” when Marmot is bugging me – either by jumping up as I am fixing the dogs meals or nudging me when he wants me to get up in the morning and I am not ready. Not sure exactly how I trained it but it works.
Gail Storm says
My favorite is “close”. At any time or any point or anywhere, I can get my dog to come in close to me and stay there until I give them the ok. I can use it with one dog or when I have the whole group out. I use it when walking near the horses, or a safety issue area or when it’s needed. It means you have to be within about 5 ft. of me but don’t need to heel or anything just stick close until further notice. It’s also great for me on the bike/walking trail and I can take all the dogs with and when a bike or another dog are encountered I can call out close, they all gather around and then if needed in addition I can also give a down and we’re safer and out of everyone’s way. When you’re taking from 3 to 5 dogs usually it’s a great tool.
Not really a non-traditional cue, but I’ve found “Give Paw” to be very useful. Many competitive obedience people dislike teaching “Give Paw” as they believe it causes the dog to default to pawing when they get frustrated or want something. Having a Siberian Husky, I needed a means of keeping focused and still in the working mindset during class lectures or while waiting for our turn. Often, there’s not enough space or most other cues can be quite distracting to others, so “Give Paw” makes for a great way to keep him from getting bored in these cases. To keep it even more interesting/challenging, I’ve taught him to give his left or right paw depending on which hand I present him, alternating and repeating which hand I offer keeps him thinking.
I often walk my dogs on long lines, so “tree” (meaning to go the other way around an object they passed) is essential to keep the leashes from tangling! My Annie knows to keep the leash untangled on her own now.
My nosey pooches always want to see what I bring home, so “just sniff” means they can investigate an object but it does not belong to them, so no licking or chewing.
“So-and-so’s sleeping” means that we actually mean it when we say to be quiet. 🙂
Susan S. says
I use “get” often & in various ways: “get your ball”, “get a toy”, “get the rabbit” (which fortunately results in a point; they’re Weimaraners). I wonder if it’s confusing for them for me to say “get back”, or “get in” & “get out” of the car. Probably not, as “get” still means “go toward” or “go away from”. Now that my nearly fifteen-year-old is almost completely deaf & has a limited field of vision, she’ll lose me when we’re walking if we become separated by more than about 25 feet. She’ll run around looking for me, most likely in the direction from which we’ve come. Now I can ask my younger dog to “go get Luna” & Luna, saved, will follow Sallie back to me.
As my little terrier, Bertie, is walked on a long line, his most useful non-traditional cue is “mind the tree”. If he walks the other side of a tree (or other obstacle) to me, this brings it to his attention and he immediately turns round and comes the right side of it, looking very pleased with himself and hoping for a treat.
Another is “goat”, a reference to the fact that he likes to clamber over furniture like a little mountain goat. The word “goat” tells him to hop up and settle on his favourite place on the back of the sofa.
A commenter in the last post about cues said she taught “Beep” to her dogs. I still giggle everytime I think about it and I’m going to begin teaching it to Seamus this weekend as a general, get out of my way cue, like your “get back” Tricia. Our dogs are trained with the word “Off,” to mean, get off the couch/bed/counter and I’m amazed, that after 10 years of me having dogs from the same school who know the same cue, that my family still uses down when they should say off. Boy do the dogs look both happy and confused all at once when they’re told that, especially on the couch. I’ll never forget the one and only time I used down in this context. I was at Guide Dogs, as a fresh new, first-time handler with my first dog, Marlin. we were exiting the school van for a workout and he jumped up onto the bench seat. Panicing at his behaivor, I snapped, “down.” He looked at me as if to say, “Ok.” And down he laid. I burst out laughing, at myself and I’ve never used it since.
My favorite is ” check in”. my yard is such that I cannot see the entire yard from any one place. Also our cottage is an acre of thick woods, both yards have ecollars. I say check in and all three of my dogs come to where they can make eye contact and I know they are safe and contained and I release them with ok. This command is also great on walks in the woods or along the river and when we squirrel hunt.
I use “wait” a good bit. I have three dogs and sometimes we use the wait at the door and then I call them through one at a time. They think this is a great game, but it really teaches them not to all rush out the open door like the house is on fire. I also use the wait cue when I’m getting them out of a car, so that they don’t rush out an open door. I also use “go wheedle” which means to go to the bathroom – super handy cue in all sorts of situations. I also use “off” a good bit, and “kennel” which really means to get into anything or onto anything I point them at (car, crate, vet’s office table, room, etc.)
I think I learned “Ready?” from you, and I use it when I put my dog’s seatbelt harness on. She needs to shift her weight from side to side, and using the “Ready?” question allows her to shift on her own rather than having me just grab a paw out from under her and throw her off balance.
Recently I have started using “Get Your Toy” inside when I want her to grab the black waffle ball we play with before we go out the side door (to the play yard), and outside after she has gone potty and I want her to grab whatever toy she has brought with her and left on the lawn while she scouted out her go spot. It isn’t a clear cue for her yet (especially since “toy” can be different things), so sometimes I’ll point to the toy and she figures out what I want her to do.
Long ago I trained her to “Get Your Food Ball” (usually requires my hand cue also), which sends her to the living room to locate the Tricky Ball she gets her meals served in and she brings it to me at the pantry. I had to shape this cue, because first she would just get it to the kitchen and throw it on the floor. Eventually she learned to bring it right to my feet.
I know she would probably perform better if I used simpler verbal cues, but I’m not too worried about it.
My favorite non-traditional cue is “Bernie Cheese.” This has been used with great success to create a positive and much less aggressive response to the site of a neighborhood dog that would frequently walk past our house. My dog was rewarded with cheese and praise each time we saw Bernie pass by our house, and he remained calm and still, rather than crazy and aggressive as he was initially. He has now reached the point that he will calmly, but alertly, watch the dog pass and then look at me to confirm that he has earned his “Bernie Cheese.” He then proudly (it sure looks that way) walks to the door so we can get his reward.
Roberta from Vancouver Island says
What an interesting topic…
I like “all done” too. Critical to get my dog to turn off.
Also “go settle”, which is basically go lie down somewhere, but I don’t care where. She’ll pick whatever is most comfortable to her in that moment, the point being that it gets her settled and out from under foot.
We also have something that for lack of a better term I call a “soft stay”. My dog is a bit of a velcro dog, and every time I get up she gets up too. This is annoying for both of us, especially if I’m just getting up to refill my water glass and coming right back, and she struggles out of a deep sleep to spring to her feet “just in case”.
So I give her a signal that lets her know I’ll be right back. It’s like a softer version of the stay. I don’t care if she gets up – it’s not a true stay – but it lets her know that she doesn’t HAVE to get up. So when I stand up now she raises her head, and if I flash her the soft stay signal she usually drops it back down and relaxes again. If I’m gone for too long she’ll get up, or she may get up anyways just because she wants to move. Which is fine by me. But the key is that she knows she can stay where she is and not miss out on anything.
This signal evolved over time; it’s not something I set out to build, but it’s been a really good one for us.
At my house we use “take it” as well, but it means “pick up the object I am indicating and put it in my hand”. The only other non-traditional cues I can think of that we use are “finished” to end play, “feet” to get front feet up on a surface and “underneath” as a cue for settling under a table or bench.
I use “wait” often, especially on off-leash walks. It means ‘stop moving forward and wait for the next request or a release. Any position is fine but they usually just stand. They have an automatic wait at doors and when their crate (including car crate) door is opened.
Beth with the Corgis says
My two favorites are “Excuse me!” which means “you are in my way so please move, wherever you like just not right here” and “Whoopsee!!” which is used in a happy voice to say “not what you were meant to do, let’s start over.” I picked it up teaching weaves (weaves become self-rewarding so you need a way to stop the dog weaving if he gets a bad entrance, but don’t want to dampen enthusiasm by saying “no” or “ah-ah”), and have since found it useful in other circumstances.
“Wait” is also good but means different things to different trainers.
pat mommaerts says
I use the sound “Chih chih chih” My dog knows it as “come here” when she’s among other dogs when a simple come might beckon several dogs. It also stands out from background noise and since she is going deaf, it’s something she can still hear.
I always use “turn around” when walking my dogs off leash. It means about face, we are heading back. It works well if I happen to see potential danger, too… once I saw five HUGE hunting dogs down the dirt road up in the mountains and I said “turn around” and we walked back to the truck and they were none the wiser .
I just thought of a couple more cues that we use here – one is “feeties”, it means put your front feet up on the car bumper so that I can lift your rear end into the car (I have labradors). Two out of three of my dogs do feeties, the other one insists on jumping up even though she’s not very good at it, and in fact she broke my nose doing it once when I was trying to help her. The other cue is “oops”, which is a self taught cue and apparently means to make a mad dash into the kitchen to see what mom just dropped. Speed is of the essence with this one because there is intense competition to be the first dog there so that they can eat the dropped item.
“Who’s a goof?” means it’s OK to take a break to roll in the grass. “Lemme see,” means either, “Hang on a sec so I can fix your leash,” or, “Let me help you get that sticker out of your paw.” We have a lot of direction cues, too – “this way,” “sidewalk,” etc. “Be nice” or “niiiiiice girl” usually means “Take it down a notch,” and “Put it in the basket” means “pick up your toys and put them away.”
More traditional – Wait is in frequent use, for getting leads on before getting out of the car, waiting at crossing points when walking off lead, waiting by the side of the path for bicycles or nervous dogs to pass, waiting to have leads put on at the end of the walk, etc, etc. Settle Down stops barking and other mithering, and lets me go to sleep in a bed full of cats and dogs at night. Less traditional – Budge-y Over means I need you to move off my lap and into the space beside me, either because my leg has gone to sleep or because another animal wants to come up; Stay And Be Good means I am going out without you; I’m BUSY means I am doing/about to do stuff like painting or sewing that neither requires nor wants the attendance of dogs, so please stay out of the way (and be ready to move further away if asked!); DANGEROUS! means power tools are involved, get out immediately!
What I find fascinating is how well understood these phrases are between my dogs and me. If I start getting ready to go out, hopeful bouncing ensues, until I tell them that they are going to Stay-And-Be-Good, when I get reproachful gazes instead. And usually if I set off upstairs it is with accompanying canines – if I tell them I am going to be Busy they don’t bother. If I ask Poppy to Budgey Over Please, she shifts without a murmur. Yet none of these cues were formally trained, except for Wait and Settle – all of them were the words that described what I was doing or wanted them to do. They have learned through association, which is pretty close to language comprehension in my book!
The four non-traditional cues I use the most are “Beep” for get out of my way. “Finished” we’re done with whatever (treats, ball, training, petting, etc.) “Let’s Go…” for a walk, inside, outside, for a ride, etc. “Shall we…” when asking the dogs if they would like to do whatever. With “Shall we…” the dog has a choice with “Let’s go…” they don’t.
Those four are cues that both Ranger and Finna know. And I know they’re important because they’re some of the first cues I taught our reactive Finna. Ranger knows a host of other cues some specifically trained and others taught by accident.
He knows, “On” get on the couch, bed, rock, stump, etc. and of course “Off” four paws on the ground.
“Flat” lay flat on your side trained for veterinary use since it can be easier to examine parts of this 90 lb dog if he’s laying flat on the ground.
“All the way” for when he hasn’t finished the requested behavior such as still holding his head up when asked to be “Flat.”
“Problem Solve” for when he’s gone one way around the post or tree and I’ve gone the other.
“Back” for walking backwards
“Through” come between my legs–we’re working on this one with Finna in her case she’s to run to me when called, run between my legs and wind up sitting in perfect heel position it’s a showy trick that at 50lbs she’s the perfect size for. Eventually we’ll teach her a weave walk.
“Dry” for shake off the excess water in your coat.
“Hug” trained when I couldn’t get people in the neighborhood to support my efforts to keep him from jumping on people. I put it on cue and told people they had to ask him for a hug which worked well.
“Gee Paw” “Haw Paw” he carts so Right and left are Gee and Haw.
“Paws up” trained for Therapy dog work. He’ll put his front paws on a bed, chair, whatever, when asked.
“Four Paws” accidentally trained as an alternative to “On” when he would stop getting “On” with only two paws on whatever.
“Loud” another accidentally trained because Ranger knows “Speak” a very quiet bark that is sometimes no more than moving his mouth and “Bark” which is a conversational level voiced bark but when he’d be too quiet with “bark” we’d add “Loud”
“Unpack” stand still to have the harness, pack, collar, whatever removed.
And a personal favorite “Cracker Dog” which is permission to grab his leash and worry it leaping around like a crazy dog while I’m still holding the other end of the leash. He loves this game, he looks out of control but he stays within the length allowed by the leash and doesn’t tug so hard that I’m in danger of losing my grip or having my shoulder dislocated.
“All right” which is my agreement that Ranger and Finna can have what they’re asking for. Finna especially asks for attention, permission to sit in my chair with me, etc. “All right” confers that permission.
“Over” “Under” self- explanatory
“Visit” “No Visit” self-explanatory and tells him whether a particular resident wants a visit or not.
“With me” stay close and pay attention
“When I’m Done” I love this one as the dogs treat it just the ways the kids did. They want to go out and I’ll say “When I’m done with my tea” both my children when they were young and the dogs will back off and wait watching attentively for when I’m done and the instant I take my last swallow they’ll dance with impatience waiting for me to put the cup down and get up and take them out.
“Recycle” take this bottle and put it in the recycling bin.
These are the ones we use often enough that they come readily to mind. Now I’m curious though and will have to go dig out Ranger’s cue sheet to see what other things we might have taught him that we don’t use much. I have a care and feeding file for each animal and in it are lists of all the cues they know. Ranger’s list is pretty long. Finna’s is steadily growing. The cats don’t have as many cues Meowzart the fewest and The Great Catsby has a lot for a cat. He loves to train with the dogs.
Kate G says
These are great! I’ll have to teach a few of these.
“Find It:” my girl Sara’s job is to vacuum the food on the floor. “Get to Work” means to clean out the cat food area, though I think she cues more on being let in from outside at a certain time (after I get home from work but before I bring out dinner).
One of my friends uses “Come sit by me” to have her dog come and sit on her feet. Very sweet with a chow-GSD mix. He’s so big!
I have reactive, space-sensitive dogs so I use “Keep walking” when we’re walking on leash through a crowd of dogs. It means eyes forward, pick up the pace and ignore all those other dogs. I also use “go truck” to go jump in the back of my pickup (it has a cap). I leave it open when we’re at the park and can send them from 100 feet away. It keeps them out of trouble as we walk back toward the parked cars and traffic.
Mikey's mom says
“Easy, little dude” — used in the agility ring when things are spinning a bit out of control.
Working on “clean up”, meaning pick up your 50 thousand toys and put them in the basket.
(Yes, I have a Border Collie.)
Jean McCollister says
I use “Last time!” with our dogs. It means “I’m going to throw the ball/toy one more time and then that’s it for now.” What’s fascinating is their different reactions to it. Border collie mix Lyra waits expectantly, chases the ball when I throw it, then goes off at an angle away from me and lies down with it. If I DON’T say “Last time” before I throw something, she brings it immediately back to me, drops the object at my feet or delivers it to my hand, and waits expectantly. Ad infinitum. If I say “last time” she know there’s no use coming back for more.
Australian shepherd Olivia responds with two behaviors. If the object is still on the ground when I say the phrase, she will grab it and run off with it, as if to tease the others (and in that case I don’t even get to throw it that last time). If it’s in my hand when I say it she will simply lose interest, she won’t even try to chase it. Lets the other dog(s) get it if there are some; if it’s just the two of us as far as she’s concerned the game is over, she doesn’t retrieve it if I throw it.
For whatever reason the command that I find most endearing involves getting the halter on every morning. After draping the center section over his head, my husband says “one leg” and then “other leg” to cue Peanut to lift his right and then left legs (always in that order) into the halter.
Yesterday I was watching my neighbor’s puppy. When I took them out in the yard I said “potty” — the puppy ignored me and Peanut lifted his leg and pottied, then again and again. After the 4th potty request he just lifted his leg and gave me an “I got nothing, lady” look.
Gwen P says
“Bombs Away” is our bathroom. We didn’t want our neighbors to have to hear a litany of “go potty” and “hurry up” seemed a little pushy, even though we were aiming for speed! “Bombs Away” won as the cue because earned the most laughs and was therefore easily remembered in our household.
I don’t teach this command but my friends do. A lot of the dogs at my dog club love me. I mean really love me. As in leave the ring for me. So several of my friends have taught a “No Stacie” command. 🙂
Mary Maruszewski says
When my kids were little, we owned a lovely lab/golden mix, a female named Toby.
Whenever Toby pestered the kids too much, (if they were snacking, trying to nap), they would yell “Mom!” so I would stop Toby. (They made it the 2 or 3 syllable “maaah- aahm” that kids usually use) At any rate, after a few instances, all they had to do was yell for me and Toby would stop. So I figure this is a pretty non-traditional cue, one that children have used since the dawn of time: Mom! (I’m telling!)
I couldn’t use it because Toby knew it for my name.
My hands-down favorite is “wait.” I use it dozens of times every single day: wait before jumping into the car, wait before jumping out of the car, wait at the open doorway while I carry groceries in from the car, wait before going out any door or the gate from the back yard, wait at the tops and bottoms of stairs (so I don’t get knocked over!), etc. etc. I use “wait” far more than I use any traditional cue.
WE also use “Beep Beep” for getting our dog to back up – usually to get his head out of the dishwasher or the garbage can.
And I have found myself saying “Are you HONGRY?” in a voice as obnoxious as the woman in the cereal commercial when it’s time for them to eat.
Katie M says
My dogs know “move”. It works for us as just a way to say “I need to you not be where you are right now” and they will move back or to the side and if they do not end up where I need them, I say it again and they move further away to whatever side or direction they were going or until I tell them OK or Stay.. It is helpful when I am bringing in groceries, carrying things around the house, cleaning, vacuuming, etc, because they just know when I say MOVE it means “move somewhere else”. I suppose typing it out here it sounds kind of silly/useless, but it works for us. 🙂
“Bon Appetit” means I stepped away from the bowls and you can eat now.
“Wet Toes” means don’t come too close. The command was born from a ruined pedicure by an overexcited boxer. This command works well with walking into the yard with my arms full of groceries too, but the neighbors think I’m a little nuts when I greet the dogs with “wet toes!
I use “it’s a buddy” to allow my dog to meet and greet people. He thinks it’s exciting! If I don’t want him to greet people I used the command “stay by me.” When walking the dog, he takes change in direction by saying “this way” and “over here.” We use “wait” alot by the door and then “Lets Go” or “out.” Wait has carried through to everything needing him to “wait.” Getting into vehicles it’s “up-up” A most interesting command started as a puppy in training. Each the time he needs to go outuside it’s for “business.” We just repeat the word while he is searching for the exact spot. I have to say, with delight, it works every time!
Mice! After some noise in the middle of the night my little Yorkie/Poodle/Maltese had ran toward me, looked up and when I said the word instantly started to sniff and search along the walls. Now during day light, any time he will look and check for something to hunt when I mention mice.
Not Now! Very useful when giving a shower and not wanting one myself.
Shake! The cue for them to shake and dry off after a shower or after a walk in rain, but while they are out and not near MY bed.
Step! My long-legged superstar Isabella kept growing especially in her legs from what should have been a 24 pound lap dog to (sigh) double that size, so it is easy for her to get entangled in the lead, but this will make her step out.
Jump! They would jump over a border such as a low rope. It took me three tries for them to get it, but soon after my bigger girl’s joint inflammation no longer allows for such, so this is no longer in use.
Up! Is very useful for my little cutie to jump up on a higher surface so I can attend to a sticker that will not fall off my itself or put him on lead without having to bend over all the time.
Say Hello! They offer their paw to show what nice and well socialized dogs they are.
Go Poop! My Isabella-girl would give it a try when younger, but eventually decided it was none of my business to tell her when to go!
I have tried to teach them Right and Left to walk on different sides of me, very useful in urban style walks, but I have not been consistent enough.
with my aussie- “where’s your belly?” – roll over for belly rubs and “stop” – like your “enough” because she stares and nudges endlessly for attention
with my pom- “go to sleep” – go lie down on at the foot of the bed
with my lab- “where’s your toy?” – go get a toy so we can play fetch
I use “Be tall” for stand on your hind legs and ” Tip up teapot” for stand on your front legs.
Lick! Is actually an important one I forgot. It means that she is allowed to lick out a container, but not chew on it. My Isabella-girl loves to clean any container that held food, it keeps her occupied and makes my job easier.
Make it squeak! My invitation for her to play with a squeaky toy. It worked great with my girl, but my little Sumo-boy just can not ever really figure how to make it squeak, probably does not get why to bite down when shaking the thing to death is all he desires.
“CAREFUL!” to warn my blind dog he’s about to run into something. It means change direction or slow down and cautiously sniff what’s in front of you (the latter is more typical on walks since if it is a tree it must be smelled and marked)… Basically anything other than continuing ahead at full speed.
Donna in VA says
I use many of the cues already mentioned, but I have not seen anything similar to the cue I have been giving my dog when I want him to take his treat gently instead of snatching it out of my fingers. He is always great about taking it gently from strangers but tends to be grabby with me. I look him directly in the eye and say “nice” while holding out the treat. If he doesn’t take it gently, he doesn’t get it and must start all over again.
Most of the non-traditional ones seem to evolve rather than being actively taught–or they’re a cooperative venture: we say something and the dogs do something. If it’s close to what we wanted, then it becomes a “command.”
“Excuse me” is a good example (we try to be polite around here). We say it to each other when carrying a pile of laundry or some other large burden past someone in the way, and the dogs both seem to have picked it up. When we say it, they look around and then move out of the way.
“All done” with a mini “safe!” signal like a baseball referee means “we’re all done playing with this frisbee/ball/stick so don’t you dare think about leaping at the hand that’s holding it.” (the dog is a 2 year old, cattle dog mix from a rescue organization who apparently grew up without toys. When we got him nearly a year ago, he didn’t know how to play, but he has learned to fetch and it is now the be-all and end-all of his life, so when it’s time to put the toy away, he can get pretty sad about it and try to encourage the person to throw the object by tearing it out of the person’s hand)
“where’s. . . ” is used to find hidden toys in the house or to play hide and seek in the woods. The cattle dog doesn’t get it yet, but Mico, the bc mix, tears off with his nose to the ground and always finds the object or person.
When Mico was a puppy, he couldn’t resist sniffing and then snapping at bees–and then he would get stung and start screaming. It happened probably five times in his first summer as a young puppy. I would rush to him and grab him to scrape off the bees so that the venom would stop pumping into him. I would always say (as calmly as possible) “sh,sh, hold still.” He quickly learned to freeze and hold perfectly still when I said it and that particular command has come in handy many times since (when picking off ticks after a walk in the woods; when examining paws for thorns; when looking at his current injury, a puncture wound on his chest from leaping without looking in the woods). I didn’t plan that one at all, but it sure is a good one.
Others that other people have said, like “wait, leave it, drop” are also SO useful, along with “get out of the bathroom” which is obvious and saved us from dogs that lap water out of the toilet and then want to lick your face.
Boy, I never thought about how many “soft commands” there are. Our dogs are smart, aren’t they?
We’ve had a similar experience to Jean McCollister with our 9 m.o. red kelpie, Skyla. If I throw her favourite croaky hippo toy while out walking, she’ll bring it back. But if I say “last time”, she chases then runs off with it, apparently knowing the next thing I’ll say is “that’ll do” before I put the toy away in my bag. She knows lots of trick commands (e.g. “speak”, “play dead”, “roll over”) and she knows “buzz off” means to leave us alone while we’re having coffee on the back veranda. “Where’s David?” works too if I want to find out where my husband’s got to in the garden.
I forgot another really good one. When we first got Argus, the cattle dog mix, he was a really rough treat-taker. He apparently grew up without treats, either, and could hardly believe that people would just give away tasty morsels, so he would grab them really roughly. We would do the “puppy yip” (another soft command, I guess) and act really hurt and then say, “be gentle!” and offer the treat again. Now he’s got a very soft mouth 90% of the time, but if he’s a bit aroused and I suspect he’s going to be grabby, a pre-treat “be gentle” reminds him to take the treat nicely. It works really well.
Favorite: “Break”- like take a break (or I suppose break it up) when play becomes a little too intense. It means stop playing for a sec, breathe or sniff or whatever, then resume. (Taught when play sessions are in their earliest stages using body blocks or distractions.)
Having a dog w/ a leg injury, play can be stressful for me to watch, and while not wanting to deprive him of the good time, I definitely want to be able to stop anything too rambunctious. So for the sake of both of our health, my stress level and his leg, “Break” is a necessity. It’s also handy for my other more hyper girl who needs to be reminded that she must remain hydrated- will stop at nothing to play/chase- and she often uses the break to get a much needed drink.
I heard this cue as one exhibitor was coming out of the obedience ring while I was waiting to go in: “That’s mine,” the handler said to the Lab who looked over at my rat terrier. I must have said something like, “That’s interesting” (or maybe “Wait a minute!”) and she explained that there were things that her dog couldn’t have, called “mine,” and things he could have, called “yours.” I like that much better than “leave it!”
Dr. M says
My cats know “beep beep” means back out of wherever you are, the door is closing – usually the fridge. I teach owners to use a “look” or “watch me” command to get their dog’s attention. I learned it from Dr. MJ Bain. Very useful.
There are some wonderful tips up here! I love “Bernie Cheese” and may implement that for our various Bernies! Some of our cues have already been mentioned, but two of our biggest are “Whoopsie” and “Check it Out.” Whoopsie when something scary happens, like a clanging or banging, for which we need to restore calm and/or apologize. Check it Out for when there is a scary thing, like a Halloween decoration. Boy, that has worked wonders. And “Time to Go Pee” for the night’s last call. It’s amazing to see the variety but also the similarities!
Lisa Mullinax says
“Close it.” When you have a dog who can open the door and let himself in, it’s nice to have him shut the door behind him!
“Moonwalk” is for a behavior my dog offered and I captured, backing up while in the down position.
Oh, jeez. We mostly use non-traditional cues in my household. Indiana picks things up so quickly and I’m a chatterbox — so she learns cues just through day-to-day activities. A lot of them center around traveling/hiking, as a result. And we don’t do much (if any, shame on me) traditional training, so they make up the bulk of her knowledge base.
Back It Up — get the blankity-blank off my center console and put all four paws on the back seat / get away from my face and let me put my blankity-blank sneakers on
Scoot! — stop shadowing me, you’re in the way, go somewhere else
Excuse Me — yes, you are very comfy and spread out like my very own custom rug, but you need to move
Out — leave the room / go far enough away that I stop snarling at you
Up-Up, Up-Up — hop into the car / jump onto a hard surface
Eaaaasy, Girl — go slow down this hill so you don’t pull me over
Oh, You’re Fine — whatever is making you uncomfortable, it’s no big thing
Yum-Yums? — are you too busy sleeping or don’t you want dinner?
What d’you think? — which way are we going? home? further? left/right? your call
Nope, not that way! — try again, little girl
Here are a few of my favorite non-traditional cues:
UP – get onto some object/furniture/into vehicle
OFF – place all four of your paws on the ground, works for off furniture, people, etc.
ALL RIGHT – I’m getting up from the computer or reading, so get ready for some excitement! This was an inadvertent cue that I trained; apparently I say it all the time and all three of my dogs know what it means and will bolt for the door out of a sound sleep when they hear it.
FOOTIE – pick up your paw that you feel pressure on and get it untangled from the leash
GO UPSTAIRS/DOWNSTAIRS – clear the stairwell of the three dog logjam so I can get by
BEEP BEEP – get out of my way
GO SEE – grants permission to go visit with a person or dog or check out an object of interest
oh, and here are a few more:
patting my shoulders – permission to jump up and put paws on the human for petting
GO POTTY – self explanatory 🙂 the two boy dogs I’ve had since puppies learned this one very well, my older rescue girl has never picked up on it. I suspect she considers it beneath her dignity.
Life With Riley & Stella says
My favourites are “on your bed” which means go and sit your bed on the closest dog bed and stay there, “place” which is get onto the thing I am pointing at and stay there, “wait” means pause forward movement until I catch up or release, “this way” means we are likely changing direction and you should check in with me. Place is probably the most useful as it can be used to get a dog out of the way in crowds or on a trail or just to get them into a car. bathtub etc. My new little girl has been taught ” middle” which reverses her to stand between my legs and stay there going forward, back etc. Very useful for keeping her amused in a line up or away from other dogs etc.
Alice Fisher says
I taught a cue of Launch. I did not want other people to poison my cue of my Quila putting her paws on my shoulders and encouraging her to jump up unless asked…so taught her paws , then put the paws on my arms – that is Paws up, and then went to put the paws on my shoulders for Launch. This way I could cuddle her without bending over her and she could keep her head parallel to mine – to rest her head on my shoulder. From this position I can check her body for sticks and burrs without her lying down. I have since shaped this to “assume the position” which is put her paws on a wall or other vertical post so I can towel her down.
I love to watch Castle, too.
I use “settle” to get my dog to lie down on his side, although I like the term used an earlier commenter: “flat.” This position is helpful for me when I trim my dog’s hind toenails. I use “shake” and “other paw” when trimming the nails on his front paws.
Once, I had my dog Ava in the car with me & she was alert & sitting watching out the front window in the passenger’s side. A Large Munsterlander, she is always on the lookout for any movement. Anyhow, I came to an intersection & needed to see around her so I looked straight in her direction & said “move your head!” & gently pushed her into the seat. she learned that just that fast, as from then on, every time I say “move your head” she will sit back in the car seat or lay down… (useful for the dog in front of the tv) another one she knows is “rub your head” which is exactly what it means….she’s so cute when she does that one
I tell my papillon Lucky “Toy Front” when he places a toy too far away from my feet when he wants me to throw it. It works, although sometimes he will only move it 2 inches closer and has to hear the command again to move it within my reach.
And finally, when I tired of tossing I say “ALL Done” He will take his toy and lay down . It predictably works for 5 minutes.
When he sneaks down to the basement, where he does not belong, he will go back upstair when I say
“Big boy up up” Yes, its silly but it works.
My dog passed away a little over a year ago, but we had about a zillion accidentally trained commands. One of the funniest was “pick a spot.” This evolved because she knew that “let’s go potty” meant just that. But sometimes she would take her time sniffing around here and there and I would get impatient and I would say “pick a spot.” Eventually she picked up on that and that became the queue for “go potty.”
Another enormously useful one was “show me.” When you’re sitting in the chair in the evening and the dog comes up and gives you “the stare” and you don’t know for sure what she wants, “show me” means if I get up you will guide me to whatever it is you want. Usually this meant she wanted dinner, but sometimes it meant she wanted to go outside. If I would simply ask her “do you need to go potty?” She would get excited and run toward the back door (which was coincidentally right next door to the kitchen) and then suddenly make a right turn and go into the kitchen and beg for food instead. She knew answering Yes to the question would get me up and moving and there was a slight tiny miniscule chance that she might actually get some food out of the deal. 😉
She also understood “wait” in two different contexts. Wait on a walk or by the door meant just that, stand there and hold your position. But she also understood if I said “you have to wait” when she was asking for dinner but it was too early. Usually this resulted in a disgusted flounce down onto the floor by the dish, looking dejected. She was the queen of guilt trips.
Another good one was “the pizza guy.” She was psychic about pizza. I could order pizza online, without ever uttering the word “pizza” and she would somehow know I had ordered pizza and would lie by the door and whine occasionally until the pizza guy showed up with the pizza. So subsequently it was really handy if she started getting a little too aggressive toward any delivery person. I would just tell her it it was “the pizza guy” and she would mellow right out.
I really miss her…
Roger Steinbach says
“Tree.” It means we went around different sides of an object, and the lead is wrapped around a tree, post or person. The dogs respond by running rapidly and happily back around the object in a wide circle. If the dog goes the wrong way around the object in an effort to unwrap the lead, the cue is “other way.” Sadly, one of our dogs isn’t too bright and sometimes keeps reversing back to the original way, then stands there looking sadly at you as he has wrapped himself as tightly as possible around the tree.
My two dogs and I do a lot of walking in the neighborhood, so my non-traditional cues are all designed to convey directional change of some sort. “Move over” is great if we’re walking down the road (our neighborhood has no sidewalks) and a car is coming. The dogs instantly shift to the right, onto a patch of grass, to let the car pass. “Let’s cross” is something I use in the middle of the block. They react right away by heading left or right as the situation dictates, making a beeline to the other side of the street. “This way” is useful at a crossroads, if the dogs are blindly moving straight ahead and I want to turn a corner and head in a new direction. They always look back to see what kind of course correction they are supposed to take–they understand that for this one they need further information from me. The three cues are great for keeping our little pack moving in synchrony, without tangled leashes and bumping into one another!
Some useful, some interesting ‘words’ used in doggy conversations —- “wipe your paws” means stop-right-here-by-the-front-door-so-I-can-use-this-handy-towel-to-wipe-the-mud-off-your-feet. And, to remind him that all four need to be wiped, it’s “now gimme your OTHER paw”. “Shake it off” means get the water/rain/snow/dust/etc off your coat. “Load up” is useful for telling him to either get IN the SUV through any available open port or to get NEAR the vehicle in preparation for actually loading up. I live alone out in the country, so “Watch ’em!” means BARK! and be alert to what’s outside or coming up the drive and even to hop front paws on the window sill to look out while barking. Intimidating sight! “Quiet” was taught at the same time “Watch ’em!” was – we made a game out of that learning experience. “back up back up back up” became one of Yogi’s favorite Rally exercises and he will give me as many backing up steps, either in Heel position or from directly in front of me as if dancing with me, as long as I keep saying ‘back up’. Another Rally exercise which was fun was the, um, Reverse About Turn —- we reverse direction 180 by me turning left into my dog while he ‘heels’ in a Right About Turn — and I told him “you go this way, I’ll go that way” as I (initially) maneuvered him into position with the leash. I didn’t know what else to use to cue him to what I wanted him to do when we came to that station, so I just continued to tell him “you go this way, I’ll go that way” and he knows what is being asked. This also evolved to teaching him to “SPIN! which meant to make a tight circle to his left while heeling and return to Heel Position again. “Dancing Dog!” will get Yogi to start hobby-horsing, rocking, back and forth from front paws to back paws. That grew out of the excitement of and needing to go ‘Outside’ (we don’t ‘potty’) first thing in the morning until now he will ‘dance’ any time he’s asked. Trish, my Morgan mare LOVES thistles as if they were a rare delicacy. She carefully peels her lips back out of the way of the stickers and gently nibbles at the globes. Could you, perhaps, borrow a willing Morgan or a flock of goats to take out your thistles instead of chopping and/or spraying?
Eileen Anderson says
Mine is “elevator” which means “I’m going to pick you up.” It started off as a preparatory signal, a warning to my 30 lb dog to avoid a startle response. But lo and behold she started jumping into my arms. I never reinforced it with food or anything. I can only gather that the jumping is reinforced by its being more comfortable than being picked up all the way from the floor.
I’m not sure if they’re considered non-traditional but I use “Leave it” and “Look” all the time. My dog was very dog reactive and I’ve found both of those to be invaluable. I started with “Look” (I bought Feisty Fido within days of getting my dog!) and then moved on to “Leave it”. “Look” is more specific and I use it to mean look at me and keep eye contact until I release you. “Leave it” just means stop looking at or touching whatever it is your fixated on and I used it for tons of things – other dogs, skateboarders, interesting things on the sidewalk.
I use “Go sniff” all the time during our walks when I want to give him a break. He’s interested in everything so it’s a great reward for a really stellar leave it.
And finally, my personal favourite is “Are you a bad pit bull?”, which is his cue to wiggle uncontrollably and look adorable. Cairo is not only a pit bull but a black one at that, which makes him even scarier. The “Are you a bad pit bull?” cue really only exists because it makes me laugh. 🙂
With my girl Abby we have several:
WITH ME, stay by my side, in “heel position”. Useful on walks when I want her closer to me and not sniffing/moseying about.
FIX YOUR LEG for when the leash gets tangled around her legs. She will lift her legs up to set the leash right.
FIND IT for when I drop food on the floor or scatter treats for her to find.
and my favorite WAIT for hold on a sec and don’t move forward. Very useful for crossing streets.
My Mom has some for her 1 year old boxer mix.
SLEEPY SLEEPS. Time to settle down and go to bed, get in your crate.
ARE YOU IN PLACE? (with the questioning tone and voice raising up at the end, this is important). This was supposed to be teaching the dog to go to a mat or rug. However, it has turned into a dinner time dance in which the puppy creeps toward the table (because my dad will feed the dog from the table and who knows, this may be the time dad shares), mom looks at the dog and says “are you in place?”. dog backs up and lies down. Mom and dad resume eating dinner and chatting, dog creeps towards the table and the cycle begins again.
I too use “OFF” for my dog to remove herself from the couch etc. and “UP” to indicate she can get on said object. Like one of the other posters, my mom uses “DOWN” to get the dog off the desired object. Well, when I first brought Abby over to my parents for the holidays, Abby was on the couch, Mom was saying “abby down, abby down”, and my dog was lying “down” in a curled up ball looking annoyed.
I use on daily basis:
“Not in the house” (“en casa no”) when my dog tries to walk in from the garden with something half eaten and gross in his mouth (wet tennis ball, pinetree…). So he drops it in the porch and comes in.
“Who’s coming? (“¿quién viene?”) to signal friends/visitors, their barks become happy and high pitched
“Think” (“Piensa”) my small dog gets really excited when learning new tricks, and gives me all she knows in fast sucesion. This word makes her stop, and try something new.
“not in the sofa today” (“hoy al sofá no”) my little dogs sleeps in the sofa, except when is wet… with this signal she goes to her bed instead.
This are my most unusual, “learn on the go” signals, not teached, but learned with repetition.
Others we use are “Say hello politely” which means this child or not very doggy person wants to say hello but the dogs need to make the first approach, and be very gentle. I used Gently! so much for calming exuberant indoor play that they now play nearly silently so I won’t interrupt. And the slightly embarrassing “So-ho-phy, where-w’are-woooo?” called out in a sing song means just show yourself so I know you are OK. He/she/it is Allowed is useful for stopping barking at bin men, delivery men, neighbours gardening, and all the other noises off that may be dangerous intruders overflowing with nefarious intent (according to my dogs, anyway!), and for requesting that they allow the cats onto the bed at night.
My sister, many years ago, made the mistake of using “Bugger off” when asking her dog to leave her alone for a bit. Never tie a behaviour to a phrase you cannot use in polite company…!
My “must-have, not-taught-in-class” cues are:
“enough” (stop bugging me),
“all gone” (no more treats),
“break” (sniff the ground instead of lunging at that dog),
“look” (look at that trigger then look at me for a treat/reward)
“Say hi” (go investigate that person/dog)
“go-take-a-look” (go investigate that scary/unusual thing)
“out” (get into another room)
“go crazy” (run as fast as you can in crazy circles)
“careful” (warning that you’re getting too worked up/hyper)
“grass” or “this side” (move off the sidewalk on my right to make space)
“stay close” (be within 6 feet of me, even when off leash, but you can “be a dog”)
Also “clean-up” (I’ve spilled something in the kitchen and you can have it)
Oh, and “all the way” (finish the cue, such as “all the way in the crate” or “all the way down”)
And finally (promise!) there are the phrases that are used to communicate to passing humans as well. I tell Jilly, the reactive terrier, to “Come and be safe” when another dog approaches – once her lead is on she knows I will do any protecting necessary, and it reminds me and others that she snarks to protect her space rather than out of bad temper. And calling “Don’t tease the big dogs!”to my tinies keeps them away from nervous larger dogs, while telling the other owner I know their dog is harmless, and just wants to be left alone.
Leave it = never mind whatever gross thing you’re zeroing in on
Load up = hop in the car and get in your spot
Beep Beep = back up
Get the Kitty = go find the cats
Wait = totally indespensible cue to just be aware of your surroundings, be patient, pause
Ok, girl = acknowledges that I hear her alerting that someone is outside/at the door/something’s up and that I’m investigating. She stops barking when she hears this cue.
Wendy W says
Question: I want to teach Hope (an Aussie/Golden) a “shake” cue, figuring it might be a good way for her to release tension on a walk or during training, and would also like to know if anyone has taught a “wag your tail” cue. I find myself wondering if dogs know what they are doing with their own tails, although I know they are always picking up signals from how other dogs hold their tails. Ideas anyone?
My favorite new cue is one that Hope is learning to give to me. I shaped how to ring a bell (the kind you see on countertops with the “ring bell for service” sign) and put the cue “Service Please” to it. Then I put the bell on the floor by the back door, and asked her to ring the bell before I opened the door. She is now learning to ring the bell when she wants to go outside to pee, instead of boring a hole into my head with her “Really – you need to take me outside RIGHT NOW OR ELSE!” look. I can’t help but laugh when she cues me with a “ding ding.” 🙂
I also like to use a 3-2-1-GO cue (first taught with the pause table) when we’re playing chase or tossing balls/toys. Hope loves it when I draw out the words and say them very dramatically, and she tenses throughout in preparation for the release. She has more fun, while also practicing self control, a win-win for both of us!
Wendy W says
Trisha – just saw on Facebook that you may be thinking about teaching Willie a “shake.” Any chance we could get video of some of the training in a future blog (please, please, wag, wag)?
Btw – another new favorite is “Pull Basket.” A couple months ago, I tied a rope to a basket that I keep filled with some of Hope’s 10,000 balls and toys. When Hope wants to play catch inside (and I don’t want to lift my lazy butt off the sofa), I just ask her to pull her basket on over to me. At some point, I’ll have to teach her how to put her toys away, since my small house usually looks like a toy store threw up in here. 🙂
These are fantastic! I am loving this glimpse into the day-to-day lives of dogs and their humans!
For my dogs, the cues that I use most often are pretty standard- Out on the trail, I use WALK CLOSE when I want them to stay very close to me, SLOOOWLY when I want them to slow down and pay close attention- I use this when I suspect that the footing is bad, or on leash when we are tackling long flights of steps, or when approaching an unfamiliar dog, WAIT to mean ‘stay where you are until I say it’s ok to go’.
In the house, I use MOVE OVER to mean that I want the dogs to shift out of my way, BACK to mean back up, and OUT to mean leave the room. Otis is a champ at all three, Sandy gets stressy with them, though, so I focus on different cues with her- SIT, STAY, GO TO YOUR BED, RIGHT HERE. Actually, I use COME in a mildly unconventional way- When I say COME or COME ON, I generally mean ‘come to my general location/move towards me/keep up’. When I want the dogs to come all the way to my hand, I say RIGHT HERE.
One of the most touching cues to witness, to me, is the one that very food motivated Sandy picked up sort of accidentally/on purpose. When we’re out on the trail, she scans the ground continually for good smells and small critters and every so often, she’ll find a prize- a piece of a carcass left by coyotes, a mouse that she can snatch and kill in an instant, a piece of delicious detritus left by careless humans, whatever. I developed a habit of saying, ‘Sandy, whatcha got?’ when I suspect that she has found something. After a couple of instances of following that phrase with ‘bring it here’ and ‘drop it’, Sandy automatically responds to a query of ‘whatcha got’ by bringing her find to me and dropping it at my feet. This is really handy because it gives me a chance to bag whatever it is and dispose of it properly so that neither she nor any of the other dogs can eat it. Yesterday, we were playing on the beach and she found a large and particularly delicious brand of dog biscuit. Without any cue on my part, she trotted up to me and dropped it dutifully at my feet. After examining her find, I told her ‘ok, you can have it.’ She looked so confused that I actually had to pick it up and hand it back to her before she would scarf it down.
The most interesting cues to me, though, are the ones that Otis has taught me. He uses only the best, positive training methods, but he has clearly worked out cues, chiefly through capture, to indicate that he wants specific actions from me. He established the first of these a week after we adopted him. He had had entropion surgery (the doggy equivalent of an eye lift to correct rolled-in eyelids) and had stitches in his eyelids. They must have hurt and itched like crazy, and he wanted to scratch at them. We could have used a cone, but a cone for a Great Dane is HUGE, and so we chose to keep a close eye on him, interrupt his scratching if we saw him try to do it and only use a cone if it became a problem. For a couple of days, when we saw him try to scratch, I interrupted him and spent a couple of minutes gently rubbing his face. On the third day, he got up from his bed, crossed the living room to stand directly in front of me, deliberately caught my eye, and waved his back foot vaguely in the direction of his face. With such a long neck and back, there is no way he can reach his face with a back foot from a standing position unless he curls all the way around. The minute I glanced up at him, quizzically, he craned his neck toward me and held out his face for rubbing. Four years later, long after his eyes have healed, he still does this. I know all dogs do this kind of thing to some extent- soliciting petting and attention with gestures, but Otis’ are so odd, that I’m tickled every time I see them.
He has a cue for ‘hug me’, too. I felt bad because he has such a deep chest and tucked abdomen that he can’t reach his own belly with his feet, so one day as I saw him struggling to scratch, I leaned over, wrapped my arms around his middle, and rubbed his belly. Now his belly evidently becomes intensely itchy whevever he wants a little extra attention or affection, especially after dinner and before bedtime.
The weirdest one by far, though, is his most recent. Over the summer, the ground was unusually hard and dry, with the grass and plants much sharper and more brittle than they typically are. Otis started licking his feet all the time. A trip to the vet indicated no joint inflammation or skin problems, and he never limped or seemed to favor any of his feet, so the verdict was that the dry grass was irritating his pads-like having hundreds of tiny paper cuts. His feet were fine, with no visible sores or swelling, but constant licking could change that, so we were advised to interrupt him if he seemed to be getting too persistent about it. So we did. He licked throughout the day, but bedtime was foot licking primetime. So we got in the habit of gently saying, “Otis, that’s enough, time for sleep” after a couple of minutes. He would stop, with a couple of last licks thrown in for good measure, settle down and go to sleep. Now, it’s been months since he’s licked his feet during the day and they no longer seem to bother him, but he still licks his feet every night after we turn out the light. A little experimentation has revealed that he will lick his feet until I tell him to stop. If I say “that’s enough” after ten seconds, he stops immediately, but if I say nothing, he will not stop on his own. We let him go for more nearly ten minutes one night. I suspect that foot licking/being told to stop foot licking has become part of his daily ritual now- like being tucked into bed at night, he’s not happy until I speak to him one last time before he sleeps.
@Frances, I absolutely agree that the cues I use make a big difference in how other people percieve my dog. I adopted BE POLITE, used when greeting dogs or people, years ago in preference to ‘be nice’ because ‘impolite ‘ is much a much more comfortable (and accurate, as it happens) prospect to people than the possibility that my dogs might not be ‘nice’. Perception can be everything!
Rebecca Rice says
I’m loving all the commands! Although I will admit, when reading the blog, I was really interested in learning what “What’s yours?” was going to mean! I use “Load up”/”Unload” for getting in and out of the car. All Done for “we are through with the interactive play/training session, and you can go do doggy stuff”. “All the Way” for “finish doing the command, especially downs”. “This side”, which is a command that means “if you keep going that way, the leash is going to get caught on the tree/pole/etc., so come over on this side of it”. To be honest, I do not know how the dogs figure that out, since it’s the same command on both sides, where their action needs to be mirrored, but they do. “It’s beddie-bye time” means “I am going to sleep now, and you all should be settled in your places for the night” and evolved from a command I used with the cats, who like to sleep curled up next to/on me in the bed.
Sorry to hear about the dry weather. My mom’s lost some trees down in Missouri. She said it got so dry, the ground just pulled away from the roots and trunks, and they would just fall over. Scary!
Margaret McLaughlin says
“Get dressed” = time to put your harness and/or service-dog-in-training cape on. “Load up”= jump intothe car. “Go home”= run to the front porch. A potential life-saver if they ever get out unsupervised. “Go say hello”=you may greet that person. “Manners!”= get your nose out of that person’s/dog’s backside. “Be bad”= paws on my shoulders. “Bang it!”= agility teeter.
And not mine, but I love them; two for the Drop on Recall. “Splat.” Incoming!”
And myall-time fave for bark on cue, from a woman I met at an agility trial & her Rough Collies, “Is Timmy in the well?”
A couple others that we use often.
“Closing” for get your head out of the way of the door useful for closing car doors, refrigerator doors, doors to the house, etc.
“Stand Easy” whatever it is that has you concerned I’ll deal with it you can relax.
“Permitted” Ranger would keep an eye on the property of our elderly neighbor next door and alert me if someone was there that he didn’t recognize or someone was behaving oddly. For example the yard work person that kept fishing in the hedge with a rake looked very strange to Ranger but as soon as I told him “Permitted” he lost all interest. Now that the neighbor has moved we’re not using the cue. I’ll be interested to see if he takes the same care of whoever moves there next.
“Thump it” when asking Ranger to make a noise hitting his paw against a bucket or similar. He’ll do it the requested number of times up to five if I show him that number of fingers.
“Mark” teaching Finna to go to an identified mark and put her front paws there.
“Suit up” hold still for getting your, pack, harness, collar, etc. on.
I’m really enjoying all the creative cues people have and the useful things they’ve taught their dogs that make it easier for the two species to live together.
This is all incredibly fun! I’m going to look at all of the cues on Monday and see how they categorize. I’m loving reading through these, keep ’em coming!
I use up-up a lot. It means climb the stairs, jump in the car, or jump over that obstacle. I also taught my blue heeler no bite when she was a puppy. She was really mouthy and would bite while we played. No bite means calm down and don’t bite my hands or face. It usually results in her giving me a kiss as apology. I also use Where’s Kiara? as a way to start playing. I put a small blanket over her and say “Where’s Kiara?” and she goes crazy, gets all excited, and works her way out of the blanket and appears as if to say “Here I am!!!” We also use a couple variations of get it. Like “Get your toy and bring it inside.” And, we use “gimme kisses” as a cue that it’s ok to give me a kiss on my cheek. If she’s really annoyed with me it results in her turning away from me.
The most useful nontraditional cue we use with our three is “room” or “go to your room”. No matter where we are in the house, the dogs all move outside the nearest door and lay down and wait for further instruction.
Margaret McLaughlin – haha about the woman with the rough collies! There is a lady at agility trials around here that asks her small bully-ish breed dog (I forget exactly what it is, sorry) “What do shelties do??” and he will spin around rapidly and bark. 🙂
Beth with the Corgis says
I just thought of one that I never even considered a “cue” because it’s more a case of imitation.
Jack has invented a game where he holds one normal-sized ball (think tennis ball) in his mouth while pushing a larger ball with his nose. His favorite version has me kicking the ball up the hallway past him; he waits for me to try to kick it, then chases it, pushes it back with his nose, and we start again. Doggy soccer, if you will.
Well, while I’m trying to jockey past him with the ball shifted back and forth between my feet, I will sometimes hop up and down with both feet leaving the ground at the same time.
Whenever I do so, he will also hop his front feet up and down, rearing up slightly on his hind legs and bringing both front feet down at the same time, eyes sparkling and play-growling the whole time.
I can’t even remember if he started hopping first or I did, but normally he only does it now if I hop.
Very funny thing: as an experiment, my husband tried sitting on the couch and just picking both his feet up and pounding them down at the same time while playing the game with Jack. Sure enough, Jack hopped.
Coincidentally I came over here just as I finished writing about my morning ritual with my dog, which includes the cue “Go back to bed it’s too early” said in a sort of sleepy monotone voice. It works! Sparky returns to his bed and stays there for another five minutes at least.
I haven’t determined if it works when other people say it, because when the dog sitter tried it she thought it was ineffective due to her British accent. May be.
Anyway, here’s what I wrote, about the cue along with his eerie ability to sense when I’m actually awake: http://whatdoiknow.typepad.com/what_do_i_know/2012/10/morning-rituals.html
All our dogs have known the command “move” which basically means get out of my way. Additionally, they know the word “scootch” which means to make room for a person on the couch or bed (as opposed to simply “off”). “Up” is another useful one they know, as well as “out” and “go.” They also know “get over” which means to get to the side of the trail or sidewalk to let a person go by and “go around” which avoids leash tangles. I also use “not yours” which is a slightly different command from “leave it” and means that the dog is allowed to investigate and look at the object but not to take it in his mouth.
My mother taught our childhood pet to do her business to the command of “go sh%$” which gave us children great joy because it was the only time we were allowed to curse.
In addition to all the usual cues, I taught my dogs a “stomp” cue. My old bungalow doesn’t have a mud room. On rainy or snowy days, I put down an old bath towel on the floor just inside the back door. I cue each dog to come in one at a time to be dried off, but also to stomp their feet on the towel that is on the floor. This way much of the mud, snow, wet that would otherwise be tracked all over my hardwood floors doesn’t get any further into the house. With three shaggy dogs, stomp is a very useful cue. Instead of having to vacuum/mop my hardwood multiple times a day I just shake out the towel outside and let it dry.
Leave it, as mentioned recently, is a really great cue!
As a natural response to the nastiness dogs may be interested in, “Ick” is what I say instead of Leave it. What’s interesting about “Ick” is that once I started volunteering and working with dogs I didn’t know well, I’d use it and they’d respond as if they knew the cue. Maybe 15 or so dogs have acted this way! I wonder if because “Ick” is sort of an onomatopoeia, and sounds a bit like gagging or retching, that it can be used to communicate on a different level than a conditioned cue.
It is really fun to think about how useful these all are, their origins, and their connotations for all of us dog (or language) geeks!
“Inside toy” and “Outside toy” are used at home to prevent my girl from bringing sticks in the house, dragging her plush toys around or leaving her kong somewhere I’d never look. (Finding those kongs can be time consuming!) Since she knew “Outside” and “Inside,” and “Toy,” it became kind of a compound cue? for her to leave whatever she has at the threshold. In hindsight I could have just told her to “drop,” but I guess I wanted to set some toy boundaries.
Heidi Meinzer says
We teach Stand! very early on in our Levels Training program at Fur-Get Me Not — a great one for the vet, groomer, or to wipe off muddy paws!
And as lots of other folks mention, we use Find It! a lot. We have group classes, specialty classes and privates with a focus on the family dog and rescues, so we tend to have challenging dogs even in our basic classes, and we welcome them with open arms. (Major kudos to all of our clients for being so patient when we have one of those special dogs in class!) Find It! and stuffed kongs go a long way to help out there.
A cue we introduce in our Reactive Dog classes is Turn! We really emphasis leash handling skills and a loose leash in those classes to keep handlers and dogs calm and give them better options in stressful situations. Turn! works great for that.
Settle! and Relax! are other cues we use regularly in classes like Confidence Building, Impulse Control and Reactive Dog.
My all time favorite was the cue we used with our childhood dog, Lady. When it was bulb planting time, we’d ask her to “Get the Bunny!” and she’d dig us holes to plant the bulbs.
We have several non-traditional cues most of which help us deal with the fact that 1) we have a largish dog who wants to be right next to us most of the time, but 2) who is blind.
back up — “No, don’t try to turn around, just back straight up so we can both move.”
move over — move sideways in the direction that I indicate (either with a light leash cue, or with slight pressure on his side in the direction I need him to move).
step up/down — for navigating stairs, said for each step requiring navigation. Though I have noticed that Gryphon also listens to our footsteps going down, and sort of feels with his nose/whiskers for steps going up.
watch out — I’m about to open the refrigerator/dishwasher/drawer and you need to move a foot or so out of the way so I don’t bonk you in the head.
careful — You’re about to bonk your head on something.
wait — Stand still here with me while I pick up poop/lock the door behind us/pay the vet/etc.
I have several as well. “Stop” is one I use most often as we walk off leash almost all the time. It means stand still and wait until I let you know it’s OK to resume whatever. “Be right back” means we’re leaving the house but I forgot something so just stay right there, I’ll be right back. “I’m gonna scoot you over” means just stay in your current body position and I’m going to move you. I use this when we’re visiting the children’s hospital and she’s on the bed and needs to be shifted to a new spot.
Amy W. says
“This One” (as I point) to indicate which paw I want raised for the purpose of wiping it with a towel.
“Go Home” meaning head to the car, so we can go home.
“Go See Uncle Ed” meaning go visit the neighbor across the street whom they adore.
“Slow” slow down and walk close to me (not a heel though). Mostly used for going around blind corners on trails.
Some others I remembered. “Sniff” means it’s OK to relieve yourself here, if you want to, and feel free to check out this area. Useful when walking in areas like downtown where it’s almost all pavement plus not every place that’s grassy is allowed. “Slow” means walk slow right next to me, which is useful for negotiating crowds. “Be polite” means to be still as a stranger offers a treat and wait until it’s offered in an open hand. “Go play!” is self explanatory although there are understood limits. It’s go/do whatever you want and we need to keep track of where each of us is and frequently “check in” by making eye contact.
The next ones are incorporated into the Reading Rovers program. “Look” means look at the picture in the book that the finger is pointing to. “Hold the page” is place your foot on the page and leave it there. This is used when the student places an open book on the floor to go get a drink or whatever.
Kyle Bohland says
I taught my dogs “inside.” This means come to me and go inside the door from the backyard. It is sort of like “come” but involves a little extra work on the dog’s part.
My dogs know come which is a traditional/basic command. But one of my dogs got the idea that “come” meant she had to go inside on a beautiful day when she might want to stay outside. And since I want “come” to be automatic and without hesitation I decided to make up a new command for coming inside. Now when I say “inside” all my dogs come just inside the door and wait for their treat. I cancel out the unintentional punishment of having to come inside (since the outside is usually much more interesting than the inside) with a tasty treat. And now the “come” command is not confused with having to go inside.
Jaye M. says
This is my first post, although I’ve been a lurker for quite a long time. I’m not adept at dog training by any stretch of the imagination, although I’ve got no excuse…I have all your books. :)) (Thanks, btw, for “I’ll Be Home Soon”…a life-saver).
I’ve accidentally taught two useful cues, both while out on walks with two dogs. First: “LIFT” Used when the leash ends up between the legs and I’m too lazy or encumbered to reach down and straighten it out. My dog automatically stops and lifts his front paw while I detangle the leash. The other, embarrassingly enough, is “TWIRL” That one comes into play when the leash on my girl’s Gentle Leader ends up on the wrong side of her head. She twirls around like a little ballerina until she rights it.
ok… I’ve been laughing for an hour or so at work and I think my coworkers are wondering why, but some of my favorites are,
elivator and the best, hands down, is, Is Timmy In The Well? LOL!
Some others I was thinking about that I use, or new ones that our trainers taught us last time out at GDB. “Careful.” Taught instead of “No.” When they dogs make a mistake, like walking over a curb without stopping to indicate it. We drop the harness handle and back up, using the heel command so the dog backs up with us. We then walk the dog back to the edge of the curb and tap it with our left foot, repeating the word Careful. We used to use No, but I really love Careful instead. I think it’s much more positive and I think the dogs are much more willing to rework something if it’s not seen as really bad. “Over Here.” Still love this one, used for doors which open on the left hand side, where our dogs are. It means to come around to the other side of me. “Hop up.” It’s kind of a catch-all. It can mean, go faster when walking, stop sniffing/looking at what ever is distracting you and pay attention to your guide work and it can also mean, move a little closer to something the dog has stopped to show me, like a set of stairs, a baricade, like from construction or a fence. I began teaching seamus the “Beep” cue this weekend. Smartypants got it right away and had a blast chasing the kibble I threw for him. Exercise and a meal, we couldn’t be happier. I’m currently thinking of a cue to teach him when I want him out of the kitchen. My boyfriend hates it when the dog is in the kitchen watching anyone cook or get food of any kind. I would use out, but he already knows that for drop something. It’s taught to them when they’re puppies, any suggestions would be appreciated, perhaps, “Be polite?”
I find myself using “Too far” and “too close” with my hearing boy, and he responds very well to both of them. I didn’t intentionally teach him either of these cues. I started using them when I got both of my dogs, before I knew a thing about training, and I expect that he probably learned “too far” by hearing it while running at about foot 14 of a 16 foot flexi-leash. Likewise, I’m not really sure how he learned the word “Danger,” but he knows it and reacts by stopping, immediately calming down and looking to me for further direction. I really wish I knew how that came into our shared vocabulary.
“Have some dignity” (our equivalent of “enough”) has really improved our relationship, because it gives me a way to say “no, I’m done” before I get to the point of being frustrated with him. I’m not particularly good at expressing displeasure or negation, either with people or with animals, so it’s helpful to have a way to say “this game is over while we’re both still in a good mood” without getting to the point of needing to say “Seriously, if your frisbee eclipses my textbook one more time, I’m going to EAT it.”
“Dead batteries” is also a lifesaver. That’s our settle cue. I’ll use “dead batteries” for my boy when I’m talking to a customer, working with another dog or otherwise explicitly paying attention to someone other than him. (My dogs are aussies, so I liked “dead batteries” as the cue. I always joked that aussies don’t rest — they keep playing until the battery runs dry.)
Teaching my hearing dog to fetch my deaf dog on command is a cute party trick, but not as useful around the house as I’d expected.
Writing this post has made me realize how many of my hearing dog’s cues I’ve failed to translate for my deafie. I need to remedy this.
I’m another one that finds ‘go to mat’ an absolute boon when owning more than one dog, particularly when trying to put their harnesses and leads on at walkies time.
‘Kitchen’ is an essential for our people-aggressive dog.
‘Ball gone’ is a useful one for our ball obsessed dog. ‘Where’s your ball?’ is also used a lot when she drops it in the hedge somewhere!
“Go sniff” means that the ball is not coming out but she is free to run around as she pleases. For the other dog, it means he can sniff around on lead and doesn’t have to walk to heel.
Debbie Schoene says
Hup = sit & stay until released
Place= go to wherever I am pointing and stay there
Dog’s Name: which, in a retreiveing context where something has been thrown or fallen from the sky, means “it’s OK to go fetch it”.
Trisha, I completely agree with your statement about Willy being happy even if he can no longer compete, as long as he can work sheep at your farm. In our zeal to pursue competitive games with our dogs, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that it really is to satisfy our own egos; the dogs don’t care a bit about ribbons. In trialing my Springers, they have just as much fun when they’ve done poorly as when they’ve won! If only we humans could enjoy the journey just a bit more instead of being so obsessed with the destination! 😉
Years ago when I was training my Doberman in agility, he was having trouble learning the collapsed tunnel. I came up with an enthusiastic “Whoosh!” as the collapsed tunnel command; he got pretty darned good at Whooshing! Another non-trad cue he knew was “Hold up!” When we’d be hiking and he’d get too far ahead, I would call out, “Hold up!” and he would turn, look at me, and wait for me to overtake him. This was particularly useful for hills or corners I couldn’t see past.
“Move” In my house it means move all 4 paws to a different location. Usually it’s just a few inches, which is all I need. But if more is required a second “move” will finish the job.
Beth with the Corgis says
Speaking of “non-traditional cues”, I thought some people might appreciate this as a demonstration of pure genius in animal training. Scenes from the Budweiser Clydesdales being trained for all those SuperBowl commercials over the years (and notice all the shouts of “gooood boooooy” sprinkled throughout). Trisha, I hope you don’t mind me sharing; I thought you’d find it fascinating. I did.
And I thought I was the only one who used “Tree!” As in, You can’t go that way, that’s a tree, meaning back up and come between me and the vertical object when on leash. Applies equally well to lampposts. “Easy” means you are about to hit the end of the leash so slow down now.
I have also used “this way” when initiating an off leash direction change, “beep” meaning move out from underfoot, “out” meaning stay out of the room I’m in (generally the kitchen, also useful for the dining room at Thanksgiving), and “Go lie down” if “out” produced too much staring and drooling.
“Hoover” means come clean up the floor. “Footsie” means take your weight off of this foot so I can pick it up and wipe it off.
I really impressed the girls at a local charity dog wash when I used “wait” and “shake yourself” to keep them from getting sprayed. They said it was the first time all day.
To Wendy W: Yes, dogs ARE aware of their tail (and other body parts) if you make them aware of it. I did not teach a dog to wag his tail, but I did teach one to “drop your tail” on command. I had a Siberian Husky who was a beautiful dog; a competent wheel dog on the sled, earned his CD, and quite a nice dog in the show ring except for his obvious fault of having a tail that curled too tightly and touched his back rather than form a nice sickle curve over his back. I taught him to “Drop your tail” on command so that I could gait him in the ring, step in front of him when returning to a ‘free stack’ position, and ask him, quietly, to uncork that too-tight tail to present a correct outline to the judge. One of whom awarded him Best of Breed from the Bred By Exhibitor class over champions! So it wasn’t actually a “wag” your tail, but it was asking him to acknowledge and ‘move’ his tail in a certain manner. I’m sure you could teach a dog A) this is your tail and B) this is how I want you to WAG your tail by taking the tail and moving it back and forth while telling him to ‘wag your tail!”
I use many similar to what others have posted here. Our Koshka hasn’t had any ‘formal’ training as of yet, but all the games we play and time we spend with him has given him a pretty good idea of how to behave. Except for getting SUPER excited about new people in our home, because we SO rarely have people over.
When I use “Wait” at the door, I use “Break” to release them. I also use “Go Around” for them to untangle their leashes when they’ve gotten around a post, tree, what-have-you. Koshka knows several of his toys by name, so even though he hasn’t had any formal ‘fetch’ training, we can tell him to go get his wubba, his ball, his piggy, or his toy (which is ANY toy) and he will. He also is doing pretty well at a default “Leave It”, and his release to eat anything he has to leave is “Manga”. Our Krissie snuggles on command, which is great for when I’m feeling sad. We also taught Koshka “Gentle” when he was little and his sharp teeth would hurt us.
By far my favorite cue taught to a dog ever was when we taught our dog to respond to “Would you rather be married or dead?” by flopping over and playing dead. I also taught our husky to sneeze on command, which was fun. I think I’m going to teach Krissie (our 35 pound Beagle mix) to walk Koshka (the 70 pound GSD) on his leash because it will be really cute. I’d try it with Krissie walking my leash-trained cat, but I’m not sure Gwen would like that much.
Monique Feyrecilde says
“I Understand” is an acknowledgement/wait cue. For instance, I am in the middle of doing something and the dog asks to be let outside. “I Understand” is my reply that means “in a few minutes, but leave me alone until then.” This was an unintentional one for me but a good friend pointed out that I do it, and that my dogs all understand it.
“Wrong side” means the dog has gone on the wrong side of an obstacle. For instance, leash walking down the sidewalk and the dog goes on the opposite side of a sign post, trapping the leash. “Wrong side” will send the dog back the way they came, untangling the leash so we can continue.
“One” when going up or down stairs together will cue the dog to only progress to the next step when indicated by the word.
A cue I use a lot when hiking off-leash with my dog is “Wrong way!”
“Wrong way!” means that Romeo has chosen a different path than the one I want to take, and that he needs to reorient toward me. It’s not a formal recall or even a check-in (though I usually will pass him a treat if he does check in – I reward frequently for staying close during off-leash walks), just a friendly heads-up that he’s going in the wrong direction. He responds surprisingly consistently to it given that I never formally trained it; it’s beyond, I think, him just hearing my voice, checking where I am, and moving toward me, though I think that’s how the association started.
I use “walk on” to mean let’s go, no time to sniff, and “go sniff” as a release cue specific to onleash walking that means you have the whole length of the leash to explore on. With my beagle, it’s basically impossible to walk for more than twenty minutes without allowing him some free time on the leash to explore; he tries, bless him, but he’s not wired for that kind of focus.
With my Rhodesian Ridgeback, I use:
“Up”, meaning to jump up onto something (car seat, bed, any higher surface)
“Over” (jump over an obstacle)
“Look”, to get her to focus on me
“Wait”, to get her to pause and wait for her cue (to do something else)
“Toy” plus a pointing finger, so she will retrieve the indicated toy
“Go Sniff” so she knows she is allowed to stop and sniff
“Enough” to indicate I want her to stop a behavior
“Go Night-night”: when I say this, she runs to her bed and lays down.
“Out”, just like your friend’s Dogo, also to get her to leave the kitchen
“What’s this?” with a pointed finger, to get her to investigate something
“Get back”, in the car, to get her to stop looming over the front seat when she gets excited by something outside
“Cross the road” so she will break into a jog when we need to (you guessed it) cross the road
“Close” when I want her to just walk very close to me for whatever reason (car coming, weird person on the sidewalk, etc) but not focus on me like in “Heel”
“Ready?” for psyching her up to go do something
“This side” for getting her to come to the indicated side of myself
“Find Mommy!” My husband uses this when we play Hide and Seek with her, and she will start hunting for me. Strangely, she is not all that interested in Find Daddy.
“EWWW” started on accident when as a puppy she went to investigate a dead toad in the road. Ewww now means, that’s something gross that Mom won’t let me eat so I might as well not try.
“Shake”, so she will shake water off after a bath on command.
“Go Potty” and “Go Poopy” for #1 and #2 respectively. I only say Go Poopy when I am pretty sure it’s about that time, and we are somewhere unusual where I need her to get it done right away like on vacation in a rest area.
“Snacks” means dinner. If you tell her “Want some Snacks?” she will tilt her head then run and sit by her food bowl.
I think most of the rest of the words she knows are pretty standard.
Years ago, my dearly departed Aussie would do the cutest happy dance with her front paws whenever she was offered a treat. So, we started to cue it with the words ‘Happy Feet’. Sure enough, she soon did her happy dance whenever we cued it. But, the spontaneous happy dance just disappeared – when offered a treat she would sit calmly unless she was specifically asked for ‘happy feet’. Since the spontaneous happy dance was ever so much cuter than the parlor trick, we dropped the cue altogether and soon she was happy dancing again!
Now I live with Bennie – a rescue Aussie with impulse control issues, reactivity, and a bit of separation anxiety. Lots of cues he responds to have been unintentional on my part – just phrases or sentences I tend to say over and over in certain contexts. On neighborhood leash walks, I generally say “Let’s cross” or “We’d better cross” when someone or something that will trigger his reactivity is coming in our direction. Those words, in conjunction with a slight shift in my posture, will send him down the next driveway apron to cross the street. “Wait while I get the car ready” is different than “Wait”, because it’s very context specific. Of course he knows immediately when a car trip is pending – to the park, for a hike, whatever. He follows me around, can’t bear the thought he’d be left behind, and gets generally obnoxious. When I need to make a couple of trips to the garage before the trip, I tell him “Wait while I get the car ready”. This basically means yes, you are coming and yes it will be fun, but please do not charge the door every time I try to open it and please do not have a hissy fit when I leave you in the house while I go to the garage. Believe it or not, it seems to work.
Harriet Irwin says
I’m with you, Dixie, all the way!! Wait is the best cue for all kinds of situations. Car, doors, stairs, trail, And it is so easy to train because dogs are sensitive to space. You block them, and they get it. Great ideas from so many dog people. Thanks, everyone.
Team Twodog says
Useful hiking cues:
“Behind” means walk behind me (on a narrow trail)
“On by” means keep going (rather than stop to sniff/greet/snarl at/etc. at other dogs/horses/humans)
“Too far” means dog needs to come closer to me
“Hup” to tell a leashed dog to jump over a tree across the trail (rather than go under)
More generally, I would say that “off” and “wait” are two of the most useful cues we have.
Jennifer Hamilton says
“That’ll Do” I learned from watching your herding videos and found it to be a great cue for any working dog to let them know that they’re officially “off duty”. It allows me to have a more neutral command for “at ease, job over” than other cues like “enough” or “no more” which tend to have a more negative connotation as they are associated with me getting tired of my dog’s pestering.
My mum uses “Back up” with her Wire Fox Terrier. Essentially means up to the house NOW! Successful 99% of the time. The other 1% is when he has a scent/wants to be an annoying brat and runs riot through the street then the only way to get him home is to ignore him pretend to head home.
She also uses “hi 5” to get him to shake hands.
He also generally recognises “Time out”, which is when he has done something he shouldnt have. Time out involves sitting quietly on his bed contemplating his sins for awhile.
We use “Let’s Go” to get our dogs to walk past things they’d rather interact with and also to get us out of situations that might set my reactive dog off to let him know he can ignore that scary thing as we are going to keep on walking.
We use “Get over the back” in the car to get the dogs out of the front seat.
“Night Night” sends one of our dogs off to his bed as we are settling down for the night.
It’s interesting reading everyone elses ideas, I might steal a few of them.
Oh I forgot to add I have a Rat Terrier and a lot of small furry foster pets (guinea pigs, hamsters, rats etc) so he has learned “Gentle” as a command which means the small furry animal in my hands is not a treat. I don’t trust him alone with any of them and they are all safely caged when I am not around, but having a way to get him out of hunting/work mode when I am working with the small furry animals is vital as he get’s very fixated otherwise and tries to snap at them.
“Get in the house”.
I used to say “run away” when dogs were underfoot on a walk, but when we adopted our son at age 10, he thought it sounded mean, so I quit that one.
Trisha- your photo of the sheep makes me think of the stories the old farmers tell about the Dust Bowl Days- cattle were allowed to graze in the road ditches because that was the only place there was grass.
We definitely have some similar ” non traditional” cues as some others have posted. These include: load up for getting into the vehicles; all gone w/ hands held out when the treats are finished; and I use the phrase stay by me when my BC has been doing big outruns while walking and I need him to stop and walk w/me again. I also found that telling my little BC girl to lie down I can stop her in her tracks, very useful in agility when she’s too pumped up & we need to regroup. I love the stories of dogs with happy feet, and would you rather be married or dead? was a good one!
Meghan F. says
I forgot to include earlier, another favorite was always “leap!” Which started when I taught Eli how to play leap frog (first over a laundry basket, then he graduated to jumping over people), it came in handy on many hikes when I needed him to jump over something (like a fallen tree) but he was a bit nervous (he was the most nervous Husky to ever exist).
We have lots! I think my favourite is “Gheresh Bede”, which I am told is Farsi for “shake your booty”. It’s for shaking out the water after baths, to be distinguished from shaking paws.
Her fav is “where’s your breakfast clam?” and “would you like a refill?” (I know, you’re not supposed to use more than two syllables for a command…). Others we use at home include “in your crate”, “dropped something”, and “squitch” when I need space on the bed.
Some handy ones while we’re hiking are “thirsty?” to see if she wants water, and “have a drink”, after the water bowl is filled. Also, “off the side” of the trail, when other hikers or bikers approach. “Be polite” when we meet other dogs, as she plays a little too roughly with most. “Stay close” right as she’s going off leash; sometimes followed up by “too far”.
We have a bunch of direction cues for when we’re walking: “in the middle”, between me and my boyfriend when he comes along, “this side” to switch from right to left or vice versa, “wrong way”/left/right, etc. “Wait”, and “cross” (the street) for safety.
I know there are more, but I think I’ve already given the impression I talk to my dog too much!
Recalled a few more while reading other comments:
“untangle” (the leash)
“street” – walk in the street if for instance we have to avoid someone on the sidewalk.
“curb” to return to the sidewalk
“you need a rinse” delays her from going inside after a muddy outing until I can get the water
“towel time” is supposed to keep her still and prevent her from rubbing herself all over the couch, but doesn’t.
“you don’t like eggplant/lettuce/spinach/carrots/ etc” – stop bugging me while I prepare dinner
A few others, either previously mentioned, with the same meaning or pretty self explanatory: “whatcha got?”, “find it!”, “take it to __ “, “hush” (not very effective), “where’s your cookie jar”, “inside”, “at your post”, “do you need to poop?”, “paws up”, “go around”.
Like I said, there are a lot. I wouldn’t bother to add on, except you mentioned cataloguing them for a future post. It’s fun to see how many people have independently come up with similar ones, as well as some totally unique cues.
Off – get on the floor or ground from wherever you have climbed, be it the couch, the bed, a log, etc.
Out – leave the room, the house, or whatever they are in.
Kennel up – go to their kennel.
Crate up – get in their crate.
Load up – get in the vehicle.
Up – jump up on whatever I am pointing at
Stand – assume a grooming stance while I work on them.
Move – usually that means, I want room on the bed. ” 🙂
Halt – pointer trainers usually use “whoa”, but I think it sounds too much like No.
“Hunt ’em up.” – go find a bird
“Stick around.” – stay close by even though they are off the leash
Careful – this is a hazardous area, to be approached with caution
“Go run.” – quit polishing my boots and get some exercise.
Hush – shut up, already.
“Settle down” – quit bouncing and barking
I’m sure I have forgotten a dozen instructions the dogs know. They keep doing things I swear I never trained them to do. I have no idea how large their vocabulary is.
I like hand signals better than voice instructions. Usually I teach the hand signal first, which is easier for the dog to understand, then associate the word with the instruction. Since my dogs are rarely on a leash, they have learned to make good choices, and to stay in contact with me.
They are also eager to do whatever I ask of them. I think of them as “pleasers.” I had a Picardy Spaniel that was a show stopper she was so beautiful. I loved to take candid pictures of her in the field, but she noticed my disappointment when I was too slow and missed a great shot. She started striking a pose every time I pointed a camera at her, which made it impossible to get a good candid of her working the field. She was amazingly perceptive and wouldn’t willingly disappoint me in anything, which made her a dream to train.
All my dogs are “soft” dogs. Other than life threatening actions like running out onto a highway, they haven’t ever been disciplined for anything. Even housebreaking was done with praise when they went outside, into the pasture and away from the house. 🙂 I haven’t used a pooper scooper for years, because they just don’t go in the yard.
Chris from Boise says
Aussie Bandit, who tends to stroll in a perfect heel position, so he can dive behind me for any lurking food in the gutter, has learned “Walk by me” as walk with your flank more or less by my knee and most of your body ahead of me, so I can keep an eye on you, and “Follow me” when I really want you behind me. “Let’s go” means go ahead if you want, but no stops for peemail; “Go sniff” means just what it says.
I use lots of “This way” comments with my BC Habi, who pays attention to other things than which way we’re going. “Not your business” also comes in handy – similar to Samantha’s “Let’s Go”. Habi also knows “Just…”, as in “Just relax” – lie down on fully on your side, side of head touching the ground. This helps tone her energy down a few notches. To Wendy W: clicker-capturing tail wags turned into a “Happy tail” cue – very easy.
At a door, the magic words are “Wait”, “Front” (pause, look at me, and engage thinking brain, rather than tearing mindlessly out the door, not a formal Front-and-sit), “Go!” When visitors come, we play “Ding-Dong-Den” – the doorbell rings and (theoretically) both dogs run to their crates. When it works, it’s great…we just need to practice more.
Lots of great ideas above! My two favorites are, as many have said, “Is Timmy in the well?”, and also “Bombs away!”.
I use “Mine!” too – usually for things like pens, pincushions, spectacles … Tilly cat loves to knock small items onto the floor, and if I don’t claim them quickly the dogs do!
My blind cat has a number of commands to help him navigate. “Bathroom’, “office”, “upstairs”, “go to your spot” all mean go to that area to eat (he gets fed in different areas depending on the time of day and if the unusual room is already in use.) “Step up” and “watch your step” are given while he’s on leash. “Okay” is specific to leash walks and means whatever loud noise he just heard can be ignored safely. “Roll” is a suggestion (not a command) that means here is a good spot if you’d like to flop down and roll about in the sun, as cats do. “Dirty’ means kindly do not roll in that spot unless you’d like a bath when we get home.
As an aside, he’s the only cat I know who walks like a dog on a leash in a perfect heeling position. If my mother tries to walk him, he very quickly gets annoyed and confused because she leaves the leash too slack. He prefers a certain amount of contact through the leash and will weave left/right with only a tiny amount of pressure to either side.
“ENOUGH” said in a big firm voice means you’re done begging, go sit down. He actually does listen to this about 90% of the time, but only if I say it.
We’re just now learning ‘left’ and ‘right’ in reference to the two bedrooms upstairs. Interestingly, when I tell him to ‘go upstairs’, that used to always mean go up the stairs and into the bedroom on the right, then to your place mat by the window. Until very recently he never ate in the left bedroom. Despite this, he’s always taken ‘upstairs’ very literally and will stop halfway up the stairs and sit down. I then have to give him the additional commands of ‘all the way up’ to get him to finish climbing, then ‘go to your spot’ to get him to go the place mat. I find this strange because he’s never been rewarded for stopping on the stairs or at the top…the reward only comes at the end of the sequence.
Back up – to.. well to back up (usually on a leash and he is starting to get pull-y)
Enough – (Although it is probably a traditional command for you readers). The kids use it too when they are tired of Chip wanting attention, they even do the whole chin tilt and all.
Chip… Really? – (as in Really? Why in the ___ did you think you should pull out all the trash.. etc) leads to him putting his paw over his eyes… don’t know how this one started but it ends up really cute.
Tug – to tug any object
Relax – means to roll over on your back for tummy rubs. Visitors love this one!
My next dog I’ve decided I’m going to train in a different language. Now I use all of the same cues on my kids.
Chip go to bed (crate) and Girls.. go to bed.
Lay down (down command) kids to lay down in bed.
Go inside – actually works because then everyone heads inside.
Come on (a general follow me for chip and the girls – but I don’t always want him to “come on”)
Let’s go (start walking on the lead for Chip and for the girls it usually means we are leaving the house)
Sue, The Light of Dog says
We have lots of “nontraditional” or extra cues that we use – some for usefulness, some for fun, and some to keep Romeo’s mind busy learning new things:
Check in = our informal everyday recall we use mainly on off-leash hikes, in which Romeo can finish sniffing or whatever as long as he returns shortly; we save Come for when I want an immediate recall
Around = counterclockwise around a tree/post/etc., main usefulness to untangle himself if on a leash or long line
Ring = clockwise around, per above
Bring it = bring whatever object I am identifying and place it in my hand (Fetch I only use if I threw the object first)
Put it in the box = puts his own toys away in his toy box
Bring it to daddy = bring object I identify to my husband instead of me (when we bring in a newspaper or mail, for example)
Ready, Set, Go! = to get him excited about something but can’t actually do it until I say Go
Take a Break! = when playing with other dogs, you need to stop immediately and cannot re-engage play until I give you permission
We have others, but those are the main ones I can think of at the moment. I don’t envy you having to compile all the answers, but I do look forward to reading about them!
These are so much fun!
I have inadvertently taught my dogs that me brushing my teeth means I am likely to be leaving the house!
One of my dogs is the most verbal dog I have ever met. He has a huge vocabulary. Around is a big one on walks (as others use it – you’re going to get your leash hung up on that thing if you keep going that direction). Some of our favorite cues: “Go get Nicholas” means “It’s time for your boy to get out of bed. Do what it takes to get him out of it.” He’s an agility dog, and one of our good warm-up stretches is “ta-da,” which means for him to do a play bow. That’s also a very popular one to do when he’s done demonstrating his tricks to neighborhood kids! Someone mentioned teaching tail-wagging – I didn’t do that but I did find it very helpful to teach him “where are your ears?” as a cue, also for agility. He is a very “soft” dog and does not always like me to lead out, which he indicates by plastering his ears back – I found that if I could get him to prick them up on cue before taking off, it automatically made him FEEL more excited as well (“fake it until you make it,” LOL). A helpful one his annoying little sister now knows – “chill” – which means lay on the floor on your side, totally passively. Useful for doing most sorts of grooming, and also useful for the same reason as “where are your ears” is for her brother – if you can get them to do the posture, it’s easier for them to feel the emotion the posture implies (here, relaxed). Her older sister’s crowd pleaser was “oh, STINKY!” which would get her to cover her nose with a paw and look away. Honestly, I think it’s really important for dogs to have some little special thing to do with their person that makes other people smile – especially good for shy/nervous dogs to have something that they know they can do that virtually guarantees that they will get smiles and relaxed people around them.
I loved this blog so much, I was inspired to write a short blog of my own on my favorite non-traditional cue – “Be Mean”. I am currently working on my rescued GSD’s fear related aggression, and this is one of the many fun games we play in our training! http://mymegaedog.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/panzer-be-mean/
deb ryan says
Years ago we had a little Golden Cocker mix who as a puppy had a habit of jumpingup and putting paws on us in greeting.
One day I accidentaly broke this habit by hollering “watch out for the Pantyhose!!” For the next 14 years the word Pantyhose was her cue to stop and put all 4 paws on the floor.
My current three, a Wheaten Terrier and two English Setters know Back, as in back up so the human can pass,
Go forward, Step Step is a cue for standing for exam, for grooming or Vet exams,
we also have the usual Leave it as in Don’t touch that object, Not yours- that is mine, Hold,meaning hold still don’t move. This is usefull when ear meds must be applied, Shake it off, for after bath and not untill I have the towell in position, Wait please, means stop moving till I say ok-go, we do this at stairs, street corners, ect.
Up Up- jump on the chair and from there jump up onto the grooming table.
My youngest ES ( 5 yrs old ) is a supreme counter surfer, When I catch him a simple AHEM and down he goes. He does not steal anything, he’s just nosey!
It’s been fun reading all the responses,
Jolie, my Golden Retriever knows that “find it” means that there are doggie treats hidden somewhere nearby. I use it to allow her to exercise her nose. When I first taught it to her, she would look for me for clues as to where it was. I have to be very careful not to inadvertently give her help. It’s a great game for her with a wonderful reward in the end. She has become so good at it that I have to hide things under objects, in shoes, etc so that she cannot see it even if she stares right at it. We regularly visit a nearby winery that is dog friendly and then like to hide biscuits in the tasting room for her to find. This impresses those visiting and gets her plenty of extra attention that she loves.
The other non-standard thing I’ve taught her is “bang” along with making a “gun” with my hand. This is her signal to play dead, laying flat on the ground with her head down. Now if only I could get her to do this at 1:00 A.M. when she wants to lie next to me and play with her squeeky toy . . .
We used to live in a neighborhood with very few sidewalks. That made walking interesting. The first nontraditional cue I taught all the dogs was “Street!”, as in “get out of the…” That word meant hurry over to the grass and either wait in place (if I stopped) or continue walking there. When walking three dogs, one off-lead, “Street!” got us all out of the way on oncoming traffic pretty quickly.
Of course, then I needed a way to let them know we could go back onto the pavement, so I started saying, “Road” once the cars passed. “Road” meant head back onto the road at a normal pace and continue the walk in the same direction.
The last one came about because of intersections. I always stopped at each one to look both ways, and then I would say, “Cross!” That meant to hurry across.
“Street!” and “Cross!” both meant it was okay to break heel position or to run ahead of me. I wanted the dogs to get out of potential danger IMMEDIATELY. I will leave a much bigger dent in any car than they will!
Or last dog was a beggar and we had a mat by the back door of the kitchen. Since it had a cow on it she soon knew “go lie on the cow” and “what should you be doing?” as commands for lying on her mat during dinner. Although it did confuse a few people when the mat wore out and we switched to a different mat which didn’t have a cow.
My current dog knows “Move” which is a very, very useful command, which means I am going to be walking where you are standing/sitting/lying down and you should relocate, or if they are lying in front of a door or gate I want to open. It is so nice to have a dog that moves out of your way when you are carrying something or walking down a narrow hallway, or running for the yard with the baby puppy thats about to pee all over your house. I can also use it if I am wearing contaminated work clothes that I don’t want her being exposed to. I can tell her move and she will run to the other side of the room and lie down to wait for an “Okay.” 🙂
I have used both “Ready” and a new one “What do you do?”
Ready is a cue just prior to a release command from a sit/stay or wait. I usually use it for my dogs when they get a huge reward of off leash running. It is hysterical to see their butts wiggle when I slowly say the word readyyyyyyy….free dog! “What do you do?” I have used rather than continuing to tell my dogs to sit/stay in particular at meals or coming from the dog park. I have heard so many owners call their dogs to go home and ask them to sit over and over and over. I wanted to call mine and have a polite conversation. So I call them over…ask “what do you do?” they sit I hook them up and off we go. I have gotten clients from that one!
Kerry M. says
I think most of my non-traditional cues have been mentioned, but I do have a “yes, you may” that means you can jump up on the couch after Huck has asked by sitting in front of the couch and waiting. Over the last month, I’ve been working on a “enough” with head pat to say no, so that he doesn’t sit there and stare at me continuously waiting for the yes.
My faves have been mentioned several times but I love them because I never taught them. It was just something my last pair of dogs and I figured out together. “Tree” for avoiding trees and lamp posts and even people. Obviously badly named but I didn’t even know it was a cue until my dogs taught me that it was. Same for “wrong side”. It meant go from my right side to my left side behind me. Amusingly it didn’t mean to switch sides so if I was tangled and said wrong side and they were already on the left, they wouldn’t do a thing. I don’t use tree any more because my current dogs never go to the wrong side. I don’t know why that makes me sad, but it kind of does.
Thinking about my cues for the last couple of days made me realize, I say “enough” way too often. The only intentional one was for the couch, but the most common one is when I want the dogs to stop playing for a sec. I have a new puppy and a dog who gets irritated too easily so I step in before he gets annoyed. I think I’ll change that enough to “take a break” and the enough for you’re not getting up on the couch will probably become “not gonna happen”. I think it’s the head pat that really works there so the words are probably interchangeable.
Thanks for all the contributors. I made a list of cues to teach. First on my list is alpha roll. That definitely amused me.
I think our least traditional cue is “house” – I train obedience and I didn’t want to use “come” to call the dogs in from the yard, so I say “house” or “go house” (if I’m feeling stern).
I use “up and in” for loading into the car. The command actually came from the Newf my sister had while I was in HS. He had hip surgery at a young age and getting into any vehicle had to be a two-step process… Up for putting his front paws up and In for hopping his back legs up.
I’ve only got a few because I haven’t gotten to live with a dog for more than a few months at a time in years (reading these comments has been a really fun way of thinking about what my wife and I can teach our new pup when she comes home after Christmas), but I do have a few I work on when I visit my parents’ dog, Jo Jo.
“Show me your belly” means roll over and stay on your back so I can rub your belly/check for ticks/examine nipples for indications of pregnancy/examine your paws (it is so much easier to get a good look at her paws in this position without having to crane my neck or twist her legs around). This is definitely her favorite trick at the moment–she tends to anticipate it even though downs are just as frequently followed by “sit up” or “crawl.”
We’re also working on “out of my way” (said in a very sing-songy voice but I think I’ll go with “scusi” for my pup; easier to say in that up-beat voice than “excuse me” and more polite than “out of my way”). She caught on quite well, but I had to go home before I’d had much chance to get her used to doing it in a variety of circumstances (or get it onto an intermittent reinforcement schedule). I might want to work on adding in a “calmly” criteria as well, since her current response is usually to rush around behind my treat-hand, slipping and sliding on the kitchen floor.
With one of our previous dogs my mother taught her “bank” to mean “get out of the road, there’s a car coming” (it was winter in New Hampshire so the only place to go out of the road was up on a snow bank), but with Jo Jo she’s made the sound of the car itself into a cue for “come to the side of me away from the road, sit, and watch me.”
I really like the all the “tree”-type commands–that sounds really useful. My sister and I used to have a joke that somewhere in the series of available dog classes should be one entitled “The Physics of Leashes” the main point of which was to teach dogs how leashes behave when wrapped around trees and how to use that knowledge to produce more enjoyable walks. I think, therefore, that our “go around a tree counter-clockwise to untangle yourself” (much more common where I grew up than clockwise since we had no sidewalks and had to walk on the left side of the road) shall have to be “Physics.”
When walking in the neighborhoods I use a lot of visual signals when I can. But when hiking, even though my dogs are on leash, they get distracted and stray more, and I worry about rattlesnakes during warmer seasons. Even at a good clip my dogs still run through brush and rocks to my sides, so I have taught them “ON TRAIL” which keeps them on the dirt paths. This way, even if they are not directly at my side (beacuse there are so many sniffs!), I can focus on just scanning the trail and the edges of the trail for snakes.
“take a whiff” as an added reinforcement for loose leash walking. It’s useful for distraction also and helps sociability when other dogs come upon us, they are sniffing I cue take a whiff now all dogs are sniffing.
“leave the kitty” I reward all “leave it” cues with food as it’s usually something in his mind is yummy. Leave the kitty is just rewarded most of the time with a thank you, nicely done
My favourite; Have you found something gourgeous? I needed something I would intuitively say inan upbeat manner when the pups found something they were not supposed to find 😉 workswell, Shadow, our sock-thief, purse lifter etc will almost always drop whatever he has to come and get the cookie when I ask him this question.
Others are ‘hop’ to get into the car, ‘out of the kitchen’ and ‘touch’ meaning touch my hand with your nose and ‘look at me’.
How about this one:
“Sweetheart, can you put your Stagbar on the rug please?”
We have laminate flooring, Stabars are noisy and seem to amplify chewing noises when held onto laminate flooring by Inkas’ paws as he lays on the cosy rug.
And yes, he does move to place the Stagbar on the rug 🙂
So much fun reading these through – never thought I’d have some new ones for you but I do!
GO PASS OUT – With my first Golden and every one since – means quit fussing and lie down some where, any where is fine.
COME SNUGGLE – at first a behavior Merlyn volunteered. Merlyn, like many Goldens is a leaner and when I sit on the front steps he comes and sits beside me and leans into my side.
My young Golden Zander picked up on the leaning behavior and when at the beach, soaking wet, would go up to a stranger sitting on a beach towel and lean into their side. LOL The louder they screamed, the harder he leaned with a big silly grin on his face. Too funny! Sadly Zander at just 2 years of age died last year from IMHA.
PUDDLE A PUP – Merlyn comes into the bedroom in the morning to wake me. I always ask “Come snuggle?” and he either comes up on the bed for a tummy rub or shakes his head – flopping ears and tags make a distinct sound. “Puddle a pup” returns another shake and up I get to let him out. This is a god send because if he needs urgently to go out in the middle of the night when food has disagreed with him he will wake me. This saves me from having to clean up an accident. “Puddle” is based on my observation that a puppy is good for a puddle an hour.
NO FEET – means no paws on the person, no jumping up
LEAVE IT – Tells my super social Merlyn not to try to visit with a grumpy dog tied outside a store in our neighbourhood. He is mister meet and greet but not every dog is friendly.
BACK SEAT – Merlyn always moves into my seat when left in the car, handy in the winter as it keeps it warm. For safety all my dogs have been trained to stay in the back seat when the car is moving.
GET HOME – calls Merlyn home from a neighbours lawn, he is allowed off leash in my front yard when I am on the porch and being a male he likes to mark his territory. Both neighbours reward his visits with cookies so no hard done.
I used to have a tricolored Cavalier who loved people, as Cavs do, but was usually more interested in investigating the nooks and crannies of where ever we were than getting her chin scratched by some cooing stranger. I saw so many people with dissapointed looks on their faces when she would totally ignore their advances, that I would drag her away from what she was sniffing and tell her to “say hello.” The words were more for the person’s sake than hers, but imagine my surprise when one day I said , “Darby say hello” and she turned into her wiggly, gooey, sweet as cotton candy cavalier self for about 20 seconds while the person melted all over her, then with her suitor satisfied, she went back to what she was doing. I used that cue over and over when meeting people and she would turn on the charm for a sufficient number of seconds then turn it off and go back to what she was doing. I wish I could take credit for teaching it to her, but she was really the one who figured it out. It was our little secret and kept everyone happy for many years.
Some of my favorites:
“wait” – pause for a few seconds while I do something (like go through the door to outside and you’re not going with me) or until I give you another cue
“lift” – I use this to let Bear know I’m about to lift the leg I’m touching off the ground, like to wipe his foot. He doesn’t lift the foot for me, but I just like giving him a warning so I’m not pulling his foot out from under him if he is bearing weight on it.
“sniff” – check out and sniff the object I’m holding but do not bite it or try to take it in your mouth. I love this one and didn’t realize how much until I starting working with other dogs. They’re always curious if I’m holding something. But if I try to show them so they can sniff it, they always try to bite it or take.
“easy” – used when he is super excited, like when we are playing and he is starting to get a little too rough. Also for treat taking – usually he takes treats very nicely, but when excited he can forget.
“that’s enough” – on a walk, you’ve sniffed that spot long enough, time to move on
“this side” – when he’s walked on the opposite side of a tree or pole as me. (He would totally freak out when he did that as a puppy!)
“this way” – changing directions
“place” – come close to me and sit
What fun to think of all of the ways we communicate with our dogs. And I love some of the other ones that have been mentioned. Bear and I just started back into training classes. I think I’ll have to go through the other posts and write down some things to work on! 🙂
I having so much fun reading through the rest of the comments! And thinking of more cues that I use as I go.
“watch your nose” – move your head, when I’m closing the car door
@Beth: I love your comment about keeping your dog in working mode. Bear and I just started taking classes again; I forgot how bored and distracted he gets. Ugh. While the instructor is talking, I’m trying to keep his focus, asking for various forms of “paw” (he knows four). It’s easy to do in a small space and isn’t repeating the commands we’re working on in class, so he doesn’t get bored with those. Which hopefully prevents the trainer walking up to us, and Bear, having done a command several times in a row, not doing it when she is watching. Lol!
I know this is off topic, but just wanted to say thanks. I was pretty frustrated after our last class. It’s good to know I’m not alone!
We have a bunch of non standard cues with my BC, mostly from me just talking to my dog a lot 🙂
The “no Stacie” cue reminded me of my cue: “She doesn’t like you” – a reminder that Auntie Mary or Auntie Linda is now the obedience judge right now and not your favorite buddy
“Fix” – get untangled from the leash
“Paw” and “Other paw” – shake and also for wiping muddy paws
“back” for backing up in Rally
“With me” – get back into heel (particularly after taking a jump in Rally)
“I saw!” – kind of an acknowledgement when he is checking in with me after some good/polite behavior
“not your business” – a version of “leave it” when Mr. Play Police is worried about other dogs
“go sniff” – release from heel when we’re walking outside
“Get!” – play wrestle with our other dog
“snuggle” – lie down for cuddles!
At an obedience trial, I saw someone use “snappy turtle” as a cue for air snapping (good for stress relief between exercises).
At a recent agility trial, I saw “tell me your story” as a cue for barking (or more like permission to let off some excited barking at the start line)
I use “be done” with my overzealous rat terrier, to ask him to finish making his nest on my bed. He will spend elaborate amounts of time scratching, grabbing, nosing and pawing his blanket to get it just right. Then he will continue to nest, using my comforter, pillows, and anything else within reach. If allowed to continue unabated, he will happily perch atop a 3ft conical mound of bedding, leaving the rest of us bare. “Be done” means to make one last turn and nestle down in your bed, before stealing everyone else’s covers. He does, miraculously!
My dog has been taught a lot of gestural, vocal and facial commands that are non-traditional; in fact he has very few traditional ones. He’s an elderly chihuahua who has been with me for over 13 years now, and brought up as if I was his ‘sister from an earlier litter’ as far as dogs would consider, so he has really been able to grasp subtle commands. My dog is not from a very verbal/vocal species, so I’ve tried to combine his vocal commands with little noises he never hears otherwise, or gestures. Key to this is the attention getter, which then with his fixed gaze can be followed up by gestures. (I also prefer a mix of gestures and noise commands in case your dog ever goes blind/deaf.) These are mostly just some weird ones out of his giant repertoire, or ones he responds to in special ways. I don’t ask him to do much, only to avoid harm generally, so he only knows sit/touch/down/stay out of the ‘classics.’
Attention Getter – Wherever you are, come close enough to see and hear me and stay focused until you get a reward/command: He’s terrified of clickers, but for my mother he responds only to a high-low-high whistle; for me, I click my tongue on the roof of my mouth twice quickly; for my husband, either the tongue-click or an overhead wave if he’s already looking.
Cease Behavior – I know what you’re doing, so stop doing that/trying to do that: A sharp “oi!” or “ey!” will turn my dog into a cat who totally is going inside the house, not toward the trash cans/shoulder diving in the yard/eating bird seed, or totally going over to one of his beds, not into the kitchen no-no zone, don’t know what you’re talking about man. This is completed with a happy casual tail wag and posture, not essentially sullenness. He’s a chihuahua, he likes to get away with things, just fails horribly. Alternatively, “That’s enough.” said relatively low, slow, and even-tempered will tell him to stop licking our hands/feet/that toy, followed by pouting. Doesn’t work with any other behavior.
Movement – Go somewhere else: “Scoot scoot!” excitedly makes him get out of my way, highly contextual. If I’m making the bed, he tries to get out of the way of the covers being moved. If he’s on a chair or couch, he’ll move onto an arm or on the floor so I can sit down. “Can I get up please?”/”Let’s get up!” gets him from sitting on our laps on furniture to either hop to the floor (in youth), get in position to be placed on the floor (in old age), hop up onto the arm rest so he can keep lounging while we get up. “Baaack…” makes him back up; rarely used, but useful for teaching him that he can’t be in half of the kitchen because pills are dropped in that section and the oven is there and cooking and knives etc. Made him back up until his back feet hit another surface texture. “Go sit!” when he is on something hard like tile, linoleum, or other things impossible for his delicate butt to touch makes him also back up until he hits a rug or carpet and sits. “Up up!” is also contextual. If he’s lying, he sits. If he’s sitting, he stands. If he’s standing, he gets up on the furniture you or he is nearby. If he’s on the furniture he gets as high as possible, on pillows/back of a couch/arm rest. “Down” produces the exact opposite. These were not planned!
Facial Gestures – Only usable by me, not my husband or mother who he lives with: If I make eye contact, my dog is interested because sometimes I talk to him and he loves the sound of words, apparently. But if I instead just raise one eyebrow, he’ll sit down with rapt attention until he gets more commands/words.
Body Gestures – There are a lot of these: If I make like a scary bear with arms upraised and hands like claws and mouth open, silently, it means “I’m a scary monster come chase me off,” and he indeed will chase me arfing his head off and I will run over to a ‘safe zone’ where I ‘de-bear’ at which point he giggles (bouncy trotting and high, loose tail and happy ears and open relaxed mouth) and goes back to his current nesting site, where I can taunt him again. Husband can do this too, mother can’t. My dog doesn’t have a command for “stay” that is vocal, but if I put one hand up with fingers together, palm forward, he knows to stay put until I say “Okay!” or he gets bored and thinks I forgot about him. Both hands palm forward, fingers up and spread, however, means “I have nothing more for you/nothing you want” which makes him stop begging for ANYTHING, huff, and wander off. This one works for literally anyone. If my dog is nesting somewhere, and I lift up a blanket a bit, this asks him if he wants covered. He’ll flatten himself if he does, or puff up a bit without standing (apparently my chihuahua is inflatable) if he doesn’t. If you still cover him, he’ll immediately come out and stomp on it and glare at you. Finally if I, and only I, raise my hands beside my face and wiggle my index fingers, that means (somehow, I don’t know how this happened, really) that he must stop, sit, and allow me to come over and groom his face from eye boogers or dust in the whiskers or whatever. He really hates being groomed in the face.
Words: “Come see” means for him to come over and look at what I’m pointing at, perhaps to sniff and taste it too if I sound REALLY excited. Great for forcing lick-tickles on other people! There’s lots of these words though and most are pretty standard fare.
A very important body gesture I stole from other dogs (I do animal behavior work, not yet certified, so it was easy for me to learn): raise chin some, eye contact, make a ‘snuff’ sound out of my nose only, while lightly shaking my head downward, followed by looking about 45 degrees away from the dog (ANY dog, so far, I’ve found). I saw many dogs using it with each other, in a way to indicate that they wanted the other to stop doing what they were doing, and it was reciprocated when agreed on. I’ve tried it on strange dogs, dogs across the street being jerks in some way, my own dogs, and it always gets them to ponder a moment and repeat it back to me, and stop doing what they were doing and do something else.
Hop Up to get into the car, Take a Break to flop down during a walk (my older dog and I sort of fell into this one), Get in Back to move from the front seat of the car to the cargo area, Right Here for come to the side of the trail and sit and stay in front of me while the bike, people, or horses go past us.
Back and Wait are absolute essentials! I don’t know how I did without them for so long.
I use Excuse Me as a cue for my dog to move out of my way– I started saying it by reflex and she picked up on it through body language. Especially useful in the kitchen.
Foot means lift whichever back foot is closest to me and hold it up for me to wipe with a towel. Useful for muddy weather and especially in winter when the sidewalks are salted. (For the front feet, it’s just Shake for the right front and Other Hand for the left front.)
See Ya Later means I’m leaving the house, you don’t get to come with me, and I’ll be gone for a while. It’s really useful for days when she’s dancing around excited as soon as I start putting on my shoes and collecting my bag. I started saying it to her years ago, every time I left the house. I’m not sure when she figured it out, but when I say it now, she stops hovering by the door and flops down on her bed (usually with a sigh and a bored look).
Deborah Moore says
I’m late, but this is really a useful cue. I clicker trained Connor my goldendoodle to say “Ahhh!” It makes life very easy when he needs to take meds or the vet needs to check his mouth. I also taught him to “Look both ways” before we cross the street. We’ve done it for years, so now it is automatic. When we go to cross a street and hesitate, he looks right, then left. Then waits for my “Good job! Let’s go!”
All three of my dogs are clicker-trained, as are my cats. I do believe we can teach them just about anything we need them to do as long as we are communicating in a way they can understand.
We have so many different cues we use ! Some are traditional with non traditional names like
‘Couch’ which is just a basic place command it just happens to be on the. couch on the other side of the room then we have non traditional ones like ‘heads in’ which tells my dogs they need to put theory heads back in the car so I can roll up the windows ! ‘Home ‘ is an optional come its like are you ready to go? It elicites a check in for my dogs when they’re out running around but doesnt require that we leave
Mine would have to be “What’s that?!”
My dog is shy with strangers, especially children, and whenever I see that she’s a little nervous I’ll give them a treat and point to it saying “what’s that?” That’s her cue to go and get the treat.
I’ve also used it to help her investigations of scary things. Her list of horrible objects include feathers, balloons, hula hoops and such. I’ll put lots of treats by the “evil” item and say “What’s that?” She knows that there are treats and since she has a positive association with the phrase, it gives her the confidence to go at least check it out and steal some treats.
She still hates them but at least she can go close to them now if only for a moment!
What cool non-traditional commands/cues!
We’ve enjoyed using cues we learned from Rally in more everyday walks: Left, Right (turn left or right), Around (walk around me, or walk around that lamp post), Forward (we’re going forward in a straight line) and Back (back up).
We also have some cues we use around the house:
Hoover — means “I’ve dropped food on the floor which you may eat” (otherwise they have an automatic “leave it”. I teach these commands in tandem.)
Excuse Me — always seems so much more polite to me than “move,” but it also means “move out of the way”
Hup — means “jump up into/onto something” (e.g. the car or sofa) (Contrast with “Over” which means “jump over whatever I’ve indicated”)
Go See (person’s name) — means for them to go to the person named (someone familiar to them). Often this means the dog has to locate that person, and it was fun teaching it like hide & seek.
Thirsty? — I have water available, do you want it? The dogs will lick their chops if they do, and turn their faces away if they don’t.
Hungry? –(the answer is always “YES!!” but they do understand that it means a meal is in the offing, because they lick their chops and run to the food bowls.)
Scoop — I have small dogs, and I use this cue to warn them that I’m going to pick them up. (It’s disconcerting to many small dogs to be picked up with no warning, and too many people do it.) I used to have one dog that would helpfully leap into my arms when I said “scoop” and leaned down. I currently have a dog that really dislikes being picked up, and “scoop” helps her prepare herself and brace to be picked up (when it’s absolutely necessary)
My GSD, Cecil, somehow picked up on a few cues on her own.
“That’s enough” or “Enough” – stop whatever you’re doing, usually trying to initiate play
“Go chew” – she will drop whatever she’s doing and pick up a chew
“Ready?” – I use this when she’s running off leash. She actually taught me. I said it once, and she ran to me from the other end of the field, sat, and nosed her leash.
Love this post!
Car! – pay attention to that car coming (taken from the kids playing street hockey)
You’re the whippet! – you’ve just done something fabulous and are likely to get a treat
Smarty Pants! – you did it ! good job.
Blanket! – take that icky kong off the carpet and onto the towel
Which one? touch the container with the tea bag in it
Quick trip… — go outside one more time, late at night when she’s been sleeping and doesn’t really want to get up, followed by hurry, hurry usually gets her out (if it’s not raining)
Really? are you sure you want to do that because I won’t like it if you do
It’s not time yet – stop bugging me, it’s not 5 o’clock
Where’s Brian! – she goes upstairs and wakes him up – I love to listen to the all commotion as I imagine her launching herself onto the bed, sticking her cold wet nose in his ear…
You have to stay – she hates the car and gets nervous if she thinks she might have to come with me in the morning. This seems to settle her down.
forgot one of our favourites:
wanna play a game? do ya? wanna play?! – repeat until whippet tail is visible, visibly moving and depending on the game, even at such an angle as to be considered raised to dangerous heights (for a whippet, or at least this whippet).
I’m way late but I wanted to post for weeks. I talk a lot to my dog and my dog client’s dogs (and cats) yanking dogs here and there to get them where one wants them feels disrespectful to me. Here are a few unusual cues I use:
go around: when dog gets caught on the wrong side of a tree, or a street sign etc
behind: go behind me ie switch sides
ready: I used that a lot
ready……all done I use that when I must do something displeasing to the dog that way we can end on a playful note.
give me a hug: special cue just for my BC she hates being physically restrained for example lifted off a table, so I taught to lean on me (she gets a treat) then i say ready, I lift her, then I say gentle so she doesn’t twist as I lower her to the ground.
gentle: that means slow down. I use that word to train exuberant dogs to slow down. going down stairs, being more gentle while playing, taking a treat slowly. I also slow down when I say the word.
ready-steaaaaadyyyy-go. that means play/work time, lets have fun etc
walk with me: walk by my side either side will do I just need to close
walk back: very useful when you are trying to open doors and dog is too close
truck: find the truck; get in the truck; we are going home.
that’s it: the treat is gone
Couch: that means go to the couch and I use it after drying off paws to create a bit of space so that I can take shoes and coat off when we get home (I live in a tiny studio). I usually throw a treat on the couch
go cool off: go lie down in the river/puddle/kiddie pool etc
go to paddy’s (friend living in apartment near mine) go to laundry room: to let dog know we are not going home
this way: we are changing directions My dog knows right and left but my client don’t, so I use this way
One more unusual
friend: that is used when my BC (who can b reactive) meets or sees a dog approaching, or kid, or a being that is making her anxious. When I say ‘look, a friend’ she wags her tail and her entire body relaxes making the encounter especially with dogs a lot more successful. I reinforce this cue by saying: where is your friend, when one of her favorite dog or person is approaching.
I should say that trust is EVERYTHING in my relationship with my dogs and my clients dogs with trust we build a team, we build a friendship and that makes my job wonderful. Cues are a way to build trust.
I am soooo late to this game but wanna join in anyway. I taught my Chessie/Std Poodle X to release a toy when I say “Trade”. It came from offering him a treat in exchange for the toy in his mouth. He’s very food motivated and trading was almost as much fun as retrieving. The treat has been faded but “Trade” still works very well.
I’m another late to the game. I found I have taught and alternative to “Give” (I open my mouth very wide).
One of my dogs learned “Make the life affirming choice” sort of a quit being bad and listen I presume from watching my child when he heard me.
I had a cat who would ‘Go sit on the stairs” to keep him from rushing the front door.
My all time favorite was ‘Listen’ – I had trained my Siberian that this meant a string of up to 5 commands was coming with the last command being ‘Go’ which meant he was to perform the commands in sequence. ” Listen, doghouse, up, turn, sit, go” meant he would run to the doghouse, jump up, turn around, then sit. He knew multiple location, including the names of playground equipment, and body position words so we could have a lot of fun with this.
Amazing thread going on here! I love seeing how many other people have a lot of simaler commands for their kiddos!
I have a few sets used in my classes, with my cats (who came first in the training scean), and some that I plan on using with my new Aussie Girl.
My Kitties, who I worked with to help them become well adjusted to the amount of animals that come into my home, as well as the large amount of travle we do together, respond to:
“Settle in” Meaning you need to lay down or pick a spot to lay down, because I don’t want you just standing on my lap.
“Walk” asking them to please walk ahead of me
“Keep going” usually attached to “walk” meaning I’m not done, and you need to keep moving.
“Go get it!” Said to my youngest, who plays fetch.
“its in the _____” or “its behind the _____” indicating where a toy might have gone after I’ve thrown it.
“Otter Pop” a cute trick my youngest dos, like a “beg pretty”
“Out” meaning I’m closing the door to this room, I need you out of it please.
“Say please” or “What do we say?” which is a speak command
“louder please” asking to speak louder
“indoor voice” means speak softer
“Hold” means Hold still I’m trying to put something on you.
“You’re free” or “Be free” means I’m done with you and you can run off now.
“MooMooMooooo?” my oldest name repeated 3 times, means I don’t NEED you to come here, but please make a noise so i can see where you are.
“go find MomMom” Asks my oldest to go meowing though the house looking for me.
“I love you” gets a Meowed out response.
In class for my students dogs I tend to accidentally teach:
“Try Again” which means you did something wrong, but lets do it again and see if we can get it right.
“Excuse me” you are in my way, or you have done something rude, usually followed by try again, or prompts an automatic behavior (auto sit/down)
“Do you want to see?” Allows a pup to check out whats in my hand, or pop over to the wall to say hi to onlooking strangers.
“Dogs, not people” A silly command for my puppy playtime, reminding pups that they are there to play with other dogs, not go visit the parents sitting around the room.
“Go play with _____” Also puppy playtime, a lot of families bond with each other and their dogs, and pups will start learning both the other dogs names, and my name.
“He/She said no/backoff/” a gentle reminder that another dog has displayed a back off or leave me alone signal, and it should be respected.
“He/she is in a time-out/down” A gentle reminder that a dog who is being petted, in a time out (parents gently petting their chest until they offer a settle/down/sit) or who has laid down on the floor/gone prone (Even in play) is off limits and should not be approached for play. (that last bit is for safety, so the down dog dos not get mobbed by 5 other dogs)
“Back up” back away from me our out of an area
“go though/go ahead” walk away from me/though an area
“stop” stop wherever you are as if asked to stay and wait for the next command, do not go foreword any more, or backwards.
FOr my Aussie, I will be using a few things for sure like:
“Time out” I need a moment to breath, and you need to stop moving and go get a drink.
“lets go” informal heel, asking for her to follow me without having to get too close.
“with me” replaces heel, asking her to zoom into my side and stick to me like glue
“go say Hi” go greet a person/dog/item
“say you’re sorry” gently approach someone and calmly offer a snuggle/nose bump.
And finally, my favorite snarky tricks:
“Are you having an emotion?” Cue that lets her go crazy, jumping/spinning/head shaking puppy madness. (from BBC Sherlock jokes)
“Why are you dominating me!? ” or “Go be the Alpha” toung in cheek cue that askes her to step up onto my lap or over something.
I just found this and it is awesome. And with this whole list, I can’t believe there is one more thing to add, but seems I have a couple I didn’t see listed, so here goes.
Manners – said drawn out with an upturn at the end, like a slight question. This differs from ‘back’, ‘scoot’, etc. in that the dog is making an action that they need to stop and move back from, in the general. The other two are related to the dog’s position by happenstance. Manners relates to a dog that’s too close or nosing in on something. Occasionally, it is used in tandem with ‘wait’ after they demonstrate ‘manners’ followed by ‘good manners’ in praise.
The ‘tongue click’ similar to how it’s used with horses. It’s basic use is just like “pay attention to me” and can by inference mean, “stop paying attention to something else and instead, pay attention to what else we’re doing.”
Lastly – I have rehabilitated a dog that came from an abusive environment. After some trial and error, I realized the only interaction I could use verbally needed to be in ‘sing song’ to stop her from running away from the interaction. This, when time came for training, created some unique phrases and phrasings that were useful. The most used are:
‘oh no’ – said exactly like you might say that in a bouncy slightly sad way. The phrase replaces ‘no,’ and naturally adjusts the tone into a softer approach which works like the magical ‘no’ just as well.
‘uh oh’ – replaces ‘no’ too, but used mostly when a mistake is made that was clearly not ok. For example, jumping on a table out of the blue, or pulling out the toilet paper roll… clearly things that ‘no’ is already clear regarding the action. The tone comes out naturally just a bit more stern than ‘oh no’ but still soft and gets immediate attention.
That’s about it from the sensitive side of things. From the general, I interchange ‘shhh’ to mean several things, which is a mistake. When I accidentally use it regarding barking, I usually switch to whispering ‘quiet voice’. My dogs can be outside 30 feet away while I sit inside the house – and a ‘shh’ if it doesn’t stop the barking, followed by ‘quiet voice’ can tone down the barks into quiet ‘woofs’ very well. (plus, it is just so darn cute as well and kind to the neighbors).
The best command I made up for my dog was Settle, accompanied by a hand signal of wobbling my hand. He knows that means to stop bugging me and go settle somewhere.
I like “friend” which I use when something seems sketchy to my dog. I say friend and feed lots of treats. Then the dog (I used this when working with several service puppies) is used to having something positive when a new situation/sound/sight/smell arises.
I use “enough” and my pup gets the picture. It’s always important to use positive reinforcement when helping your dog learn about the world and what’s acceptable too.
I also like “friend” as Vanessa points out, great idea 🙂