Commands and Talking to your dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Commands and Talking to your dog

Aloha, sorry for soooo many postings, but I have lotsa questions!! Anyway is it OK to mix up commands with just talking to your dog? Or should you take great care to be very consistent with my commands? For example, I just made Rasa's dinner and she normally sits and stays until I say go for it. Today she almost sat down and watched me intently (not the dish) and I stopped putting the food on the floor and said, "what do all Good Girls do before eating?" OK the hint is it starts with the letter "S". Rasa sat right down and I "good girled" her. (I use good girl a LOT). I know the above is fun for my satisfaction only, but does this type of inconsistency mess up obedience in the dog?

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 11:42 PM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

The more consistant you are with the command words the eaiser the dog will pick them up and react. Too many commands for the same request will only serve to confuse the dog and prolong training. Simple one word commands are the best way to train. It doesnt hurt anything to fool around with them like you describe but for actual training, stick to the one word commands.

Sarge and I have conversations too. He does the head **** thing like hes trying to figure out what im saying...lol

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-15-2008, 11:53 PM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

I've always talked to my dogs. We have conversations.
I try not to do it until they're out of boot camp, though. lol. When they're in the basic training stage, I try to keep it real simple. Once they know the routine and know what's expected of them in a given situation - when they anticipate what I expect them to do - then I'll start asking "What do you do?" or "Where are your manners?" just to be goofy.

The good thing about talking to your dog is that you'll be amazed how many words and phrases they'll learn. The bad thing about talking to your dog is how many words and phrases they'll learn! Just wait until you have to start spelling things and using code phrases so that your dog won't understand what you're saying.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 12:20 AM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

I've always talked to my dogs and my Golden was very obedient and never got confused about commands... Of course she also knew a few commands that meant different things depending on the situation and didn't get confused by that either so I don't know! For example "back" meant walk backwards unless we were in the car in which case "back" meant get out of the front seat and go sit in the back. She had no trouble differentiating those.
If Ginger was supposed to do something and she didn't I would ask her "Ginger, what are you supposed to do?" or say "You know what to do!" and then she would do it. Example if we get to a doorway or a street (I trained her to sit "automatically" at doorways and streets) and she didn't sit down, or if I was holding her food bowl and she didn't lay down as she was trained to do before I would put the bowl down.
I would also sometimes give commands that consisted of a sentence or phrase, or tell her what to do in the middle of saying a sentence to her. It never seemed to cause problems in training. An example of this is if we were walking and she was walking on someone's grass I would tell her to "get off of the grass" or if she got too close to the curb when off leash I might say "Ginger, get away from the street." I might give a command in the middle of talking, but she seemed to know the difference between the cue and when I am just talking to her (or talking to someone else) even if I used the same word. The only exceptions were if I was telling someone else to give Ginger a command she'd usually do it when she heard me say it. Such as if someone wanted to give her a treat, I would hand them the treat and say "Okay now tell her to 'sit' first." Usually Ginger would sit when I said that sentence, but if I was telling someone "Ginger knows how to sit on cue" or if I was telling Ginger "Isn't it nice to sit out here in the sun?" (or something) she would know it was not a cue and would not sit.

Gunnersmom is right though, the more you talk to them (or about them for that matter) the more words they pick up without actually training them. Ginger knew a lot of words I did not actually train her to understand and it meant I sometimes had to watch what I said around her! If I was leaving I often would say (to a person who was going with me) "Hurry up!" and Ginger would get up and run to the door and give me "can't I come too???" puppy-dog eyes.
If I wasn't taking her with I had to avoid telling anyone to "Hurry up" or "Cmon" or "let's go" or Ginger would be begging me to come along.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

Aloha, thanks for all the good advice. Like a lawyer I never ask a question that I don't know the answer for. Likewise I always see a "setup" in the natural activity of the dog and always able to assign a word for it and Good Girl her. Seems to work for me that I never put myself in a situation where I have to scold Rasa for not doing something. (she wouldn't know what I was talking about anyway). For example, if while walking she may want to tend to turn right and go down the side street, I assigned "right, right" or Left, left, and good girled her. Now she knows what right and left is. Is this method of training effective in the long run?
(sorry, I guess I hyjacked my own thread)
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 01:20 AM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

The thing about dogs is that they're really good at picking out the words that make sense to them - for example, I could tell my Aussie "GO put the FRISBEE in the TRUCK" and she would run over, jump into the truck and drop the frisbee. I know she was only really hearing the words that I capitalized, but it impressed people because I said it in a normal tone of voice and she responded.

Ideally you teach them commands using the command only so that there is little confusion in the learning process. But once they've learned those commands you can generally use them in conversation and have the dog respond. And with some things they learn, all the behavior is learned casually with casual commands anyhow.

Teaching her "right" and "left" in the manner you've taught it is effective if she's learning it okay. Basically you get the dog to perform the behavior you want and you reinforce it, and then assign a word to it and the dog has learned a behavior. The means by which you get the behavior is usually the most difficult part of it. Sounds like Rasa is doing well and that you're learning right along side of her!

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 02:08 AM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

I also wanted to add that with Ginger I don't think she was just responding to words in the phrases she knew.. For example if I told her to "get off the grass." Well, she knew the command "off" meaning jump down from a surface (couch, chair, pause table etc) but if I told her "off" when she was on grass she wouldn't move because there was nowhere to jump down. She also knew the command "get it!" meaning to fetch, yet she didn't try to fetch the grass. If I just said "Ginger, grass!" she did not move so it was definitely the whole phrase.


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-16-2008, 08:51 PM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

Adas, the others have it nailed.

But once you Rasa knows her "sit before meal" thing really well, what you CAN do (to challenge her, because we know that GSDs need to be challenged) is you can look for offered behavior.

That's when your dog has been asked for the same thing often enough that she should OFFER the behavior before you ask for it, or even when you don't ask for it at all.

It sounds to me like that's almost what you're trying to do here. The thing is, it's just a bit early for that. She needs probably another month of consistent Sits (with the verbal command) before dinner. You just want to make sure she is absolutely clear what you want.

Once she has that down, then you should be able to just hold up the bowl and she'll probably offer it. If she doesn't, luring her into a sit (by moving her bowl slightly over her head like we would lure a puppy with a treat into a sit) will do it. Plop! She'll sit for you!

Offered behaviors are wonderful because after a while, your dog will be THINKING (ah! We're working her brain again!) "what does my owner want in this situation?" Some behaviors, like sitting before dinner will just become automatic then (no thinking required). But Rasa will have started the process of thinking "what does my owner want?" in other aspects of her life.

And soon enough, you'll end up with a dog that seems like she reads your mind. She sits when you want her to, waits when you want her to, lies down when it seems most reasonable to.

And life is just really smooth together.

But it's part of an evolution.

You're at the first step. Don't rush it. Don't confuse her yet. Talk to her. Like Gunnersmom, I have conversations with my dogs. but when I'm giving them commands, there is no doubt in their minds "this is a command." I start with their name. I give the command in a clear firm voice. And I watch for immediate reaction.

The reward is sometimes a treat and always a Good "Command!" (good sit, good down, good come) to reinforce that they did what I wanted. They aren't a good boy or good girl just for existing. But what they did was exactly what I wanted: "Good Wait!" (This is important especially when they offer behaviors).

Make sense?

It sounds like you and Rasa are making great progress. Keep it up!
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 11:49 AM
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

Quote:
Originally Posted By: GunnersMom Just wait until you have to start spelling things and using code phrases so that your dog won't understand what you're saying.
We had to do this with Sar! Couldn't say the words hike, bike ride, outside, buh-bye truck, bscar, etc without him going crazy - we resorted to spelling things out too


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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-17-2008, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Commands and Talking to your dog

Hmmm. Maybe I should teach Rasa the commands in Hebrew or Sanscrit?

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