I can’t even remember exactly which of us started it. But my kids and I have taught the dogs their commands in multiple languages. We like to learn and use multiple languages in our household. Since we do it, the pets should be no different. They’re a part of the family, too.
The first one we tried was the sit command in French. The dogs had that one down in less than a day. The Shih Tzu seems to prefer the French commands most now, actually. Since one of our dogs may have some black German Shepherd in her and my oldest teen had started learning German at the time, we thought it would be fun to try some German, too. So that was the second language we tried.
Surprisingly (well not so surprising to us anymore – animals are smarter than some think), they catch on to each new word from each new language quite quickly. So far, the dogs know commands in English, French, and German. Since they are doing such a great job, we may add more at a later date.
UPDATE: We’ve since added Spanish and they took to it quickly.
Since we rescued our fur babies from shelters, it is unknown whether they were taught other languages prior to being with us. However, they sure did pick them up quickly, regardless.
A few hints if you wish to try this with your dogs:
1.Only use languages in which you know how to correctly pronounce the words. There is no point in teaching it incorrectly and it will defeat the purpose if your dog ever has the opportunity to interact with someone else who speaks that language.
2.Use a reward system. Food usually works best, such as a favorite treat. However, some dogs would rather perform for a special toy, praise, or even for both food and praise. You know your furry friend best. Choose accordingly.
3.Use proper hand signals or dog sign language when giving each command in any language. This helps the dog learn faster and also adds another language at the same time (sign language).
4.Don’t force it. Not every trick or command is right for every dog. Give your dog breaks while learning and if the learning is not working or your dog is upset, don’t continue. Stressing out your dog will not help the learning process. However, it may hinder it and make it harder to teach or even be considered abusive. If your dog is not happy at any point, stop.
*Image Credit/Copyright: Lyn Lomasi (Bo-Bo the Shih Tzu performing tricks for treats)
**I originally published this on Bubblews.com (no longer published there).