Join Date: May 2013
Location: Great White North
No doubt dogs are capable of associating certain words/gestures/movements and "rituals" with pending activities. I believe dogs are most certainly creatures of habit and can quickly assimilate all the antecedents which are related to pleasurable events.....perhaps, unpleasant ones as well.
Routine in a dog's life seems to be desired and they are quick to pick up on our idiosyncrasies hinting at the pending fulfillment of the "routine".
I found that when I would go to the front door to go outside briefly...get the mail, shovel the driveway, etc, that my dog would react in a fashion which suggested she was getting to go with me and crowd the door a bit as I would exit and she would wait patiently for my return, at the door. However, when I would leave for an extended period of time, before I would exit the front door, I would always say " guard the house". In short order, whenever I would leave for awhile and said "guard the house" before opening the door, the dog would not crowd the door and remain in the living room wherever she might be. I never intended for this to be a command of sorts but she definitely knows the difference ....an "unintended" response to the simple words "guard the house".
I think what you are seeing...as you are so well aware of...is GSDs can be some incredibly smart and observant creatures....quick studies at times.