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Why teach your dog in German? In Code? In Dothraki?

I was once asked if ‘German Shepherds understood German commands better than English?’ (Short answer: No.)

I’ve also been told about training outfits offering a ‘premium’ package to teach a dog in a secret code so no one could steal the dog by calling them in command. (opinion: code is not necessary for this security measure, nor should it cost more)

Game of Thrones fan? Named your mastiff Khal Drogo? Train him in Dothraki! (Or elven for those LOTR fans…)

Really, there is no magic to any command language over another – it is just a set of sounds conditioned to patterns. Heck you could change your dog’s name in about 24 hours if you wanted.

Why do some trainers/owners use different languages? A lot of it is just personal preference.

K9 Valkyrie being trained in German

Where I find it CAN be helpful is with a 2+ dog household. Having different words clearly defined for each dog helps avoid confusion and maintain consistency in the K9’s brain. My personal K9s are trained in English, German and my little Dutchie has a less typical system of words (seat, deck etc)…

Oaken the Dutch working on picture changes

Now, understand too that the refinement of understanding can be trained in time. Want your dog to listen to you with nothing more than a whisper? Work up to it! Want them to listen to YOUR command over any one else’s? That can also be trained.

Dogs are amazing at generalizing patterns and they often train us: For example - how many of you have said (or seen someone say) ‘sit SIT SIIIIIIIIT’ with a paired hand motion and the dog finally sat? In the dog’s brain they now think ‘sit’ is a behavior attached to a pattern of saying a word 3 times with increasing volume and a hand signal. You may have inadvertently trained the dog that one direction…just think about taking them the other direction towards refinement that includes saying the word one time quietly and making them hold even if friends are yelling commands at your dog trying to get them to break your stay.

Overall I want clients to respect the perceptive powers of the dog. Consistency is important when attempting to train or communicate with your K9…just know that you will inevitably be inconsistent because the dog can sense, smell, hear and see patterns better than you can. Just do the best you can being consistent with what you CAN control.

Oh and when you decide to pick a command pattern – feel free to get creative, just stick with it and you will have your pup understanding (Klingon?) in no time…

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