Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 8, 2016

Fun and Useful Unconventional Cues and Behaviors

Posted at 05:01PM - Comments: (57)

WDJ Training Editor Pat Miller wrote an article for the June issue of WDJ about unconventional or unintentional cues – things that people taught their dogs that are far from the ordinary sit, down, stay-sort of behaviors. In the article, she and other trainers describe how they taught their dogs things such as locating a pile of poop that needs to be picked up, standing in a certain place and a certain pose that’s convenient for grooming, and coming when it’s time to take a daily medication. My favorite was, “You’re not going!” – which is what Pat taught her Kelpie, Kai, to indicate he shouldn’t get excited about going for a car ride, because he’s not invited on that impending trip.

Pat asked readers to send in descriptions of the unconventional cues and behaviors they had taught their dogs. I’m going to post some over the next couple of weeks; we’re getting a lot, thanks! You guys are an unconventional bunch, apparently! And Pat will be selecting one – perhaps by random, because there are so many great ones to choose from! – to win a prize.

I’m going to share my own secret cue – which is a behavior many people teach their dogs, but is particularly useful to me. Many trainers teach their dogs “Look at me” so their dogs will watch them for the next cue. I use “Look here” with my dog, Otto, when I need him to look at me so I can get a good photo for the magazine!

When I have a camera, "Look here" means both "look here" AND "Stand still!"

Here are the first few submissions from readers:

Diana Liebich:

While reading WDJ in bed before going to sleep, my two dogs think this is a good time for pets and cuddling.  I tell them, “Shhhh,” and they curl up and settle down.

I have a special spot in my heart for that one!

Julie Thomaa:

I just read the article on Unconventional or Unintentional Cues and would like to share a few I've used for my dogs.

1. I often teach my dogs, "Out!" after I had unintentionally gotten them to leave the room by yelling out. Now I teach it and generalize it to mean leave the room we are in at the moment. It's very useful in the kitchen when they get under foot while I'm cooking. It's especially useful when a glass breaks on the floor. I know they'll leave immediately and don't have to worry about paws stepping in glass.

2. When my Sheltie was recovering from a broken elbow- which couldn't be casted, I had a lot of trouble with him anticipating being picked up. After a scary incident with the dog walker when he anticipated and jumped before she was ready, I put a command to it - "Up!"  He learned over time to turn his rear toward me & wait for the "Up!" command to lift up for my arms. 

I also use “out!” with my dogs at home. It’s also great for keeping a clean floor temporarily clean.

Candace Liddy:

Here are some words and phrases we use:

1) We live in the country and have a very large fenced area for the dogs but dirt, mud, and grass are normal after romps. However during the winter or when it rains, they can get pretty grungy. I have arthritis so cleaning up large dogs each time they come in was a chore. I laid several soft mats in the front hall and when the dogs come in dirty or wet we say "Muddy Dog " and they promptly go lay on the mats. They stay on them until they are dry. We taught this by asking the dog to lay on the mats and giving them a treat. If they leave before they should we just put them back with no treat but still give the cue. Doesn't take them long to figure it out. The time spent on the mat was lengthened until they can stay  there indefinitely.  

2) Our driveway is close to 300 feet long and the daily newspaper is tossed at the end in a plastic bag. Going up each day, in bad weather or winter was not fun, so we taught our latest dog to "Get the Paper.” We started with a newspaper in the plastic bag and rewarded him each time he put his nose on it. Then we went to actually having him hold it  and finally tossing it on the floor with the cue. Eventually we could throw it far away and he would get it. Now he roars up the drive and roars back with the paper and loves his "job.”

3) When we leave the house and everyone is excited to possibly go along we say "Sorry" and they know this is not their trip and relax. 

4) We also taught them to run to the front door and bark if we ask "Who's here?"

5) Several of our dogs learned to bring groceries into the house after we had shopped. It started with their curiosity about what we had purchased and they would greet us at the car door and check out the bags. We started giving them something simple like a can or box and told them to "Take it in the kitchen." They would follow us in and were asked to drop it on the floor and then we would go out and repeat with other items until all the groceries were inside. Now we just hand our dog an item and he runs right in and comes back for more. One of our past dogs, Zeke, was so terrific at this, we experimented with the kinds of things he would take in. He could grab a plastic gallon of milk by the handle very gently so as not to puncture it and take that in. Five-pound bags of potatoes, loaves of bread, and, yes, even meat packages were safely carried in!

We also use "enough" and "go lie down" all the time so it was fun to see others use those words too!

I may have to put “Who’s there?” into place at home, especially when I see solicitors approaching the door!

Jim Dilda:

Bessy, our first Bernese Mountain Dog, lived with us in an apartment at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.  The woman in the end unit took meticulous care of the yard immediately adjacent to the building. Even if we “bagged” meticulously, we were alerted by our neighbors not to dare allow Bessy to poop anywhere near the building.

 Sometimes it required a mad dash, but we taught her that she couldn’t stop until we had gone “All the way” to the edge of the yard, near the woods.

That cue stuck with us through moves to California and North Carolina, even when Bessy was off leash in her own backyard.  If we said, “All the way,” she kept moving until she reached a safe area and we gave her the cue, “Find a spot,” at which time she took care of business.

Our current dog, Sadie, is the third Berner we have taught that cue. It's especially helpful if we're out in public – with or without a plastic bag – and need her to hold off until we can find someplace discreet. 

Love it! Does anyone know if service-dog trainers teach some sort of cue for “you may not pee or poop now”?  Or is that behavior just expected? I like the cue for “not here, not now, but over there is ok!”

With my dog-crazy niece, Ava...she's learning the cue, too ;)

We’ll be posting a lot more of these in the coming days. Remember, you have until June 15 to send us your description of a useful or fun unconventional or unintentional cue and behavior. Send to WDJEDitor@gmail.com.



Comments (57)

I have a little, well 40lb, ADC and mini schnauzer mix called Moose. He does a bunch of fun silly things but he can be standoffish in general and aloof so it's one of the things we worked on a lot. He looks like a 4 month old black lab and lab/puppy people always want to pet him; so his cue is "Go say hello" when someone obviously wants to pet him very badly and has asked politely, and he'll walk up to the person and let them scratch his ears and pet him.

Posted by: K. Ellenich | June 16, 2016 1:53 PM    Report this comment

I taught my first agility dog Bailey (female border collie) a few tricks to keep us both amused while we wait our turn to go into the ring. The two she likes the best are to sit up and put one paw in the air when I ask "who's number one?", and to bark when I say "speak," and give a soft woof when I say "inside voice!"

My new guy Jack (also a border collie) loves to learn all sorts of tricks on cue. I taught him to back up on command, to help with his hind-end awareness, and the cue I use is to say "beep, beep, beep" (like a large truck backing up). And of course, the way I get him to go into his kennel is to say "Jack in the box!"

Posted by: Jack's mom | June 16, 2016 9:57 AM    Report this comment

My Ridgeback/Shepard Mix, Monty, absolutely lives for his ball (and will drop into whatever drawer, bucket, etc. i'm using at the time to 'get my attention'. However, sometimes when we are playing catch, he drops it down on the ground or too far away. We've taught him that 'I cannot reach it' means that it is too far away for us....he swoops down, grabs it, and drops it off in hand or closer to us! This will Certainly help us as we age, too, and the ground gets further away!

Posted by: karis | June 14, 2016 11:45 PM    Report this comment

Wow, we too rescue the ones nobody else would take the time with. You know, the least likely to ever get a furever home. We can only rescue one at a time, to make our small dent, also knowing the ones that have crossed to "Rainbow Bridge" would want us to love another. We have a 16 year old service dog (Cosmo our Pom) and his new big brother Dozer, a rottie. If their leashes get caught under foot we say " fix your foot" and they lift the leg the leash is caught under. We're training the big guy to continue as a service dog, he is a work in progress. When he reverts back to old habits we say "what was that" and "you know better than that"! He always turns around making sure his little brother is ok, so we tell him " you're such a good big brother", even though the little one is the boss! They're always there for us, never judging. We can't imagine life without our "furbabies"

Posted by: animallover | June 14, 2016 5:50 PM    Report this comment

I have a Schnauzer/Chihuahua rescue and she lounges in my lap in the evening until around 10:00 when it's time to go out for the last potty break. I barely whisper "o-u-t" and she immediately hops down and starts dancing around, waiting for me to get her leash. She loves sniffing around to see who (or what) has passed by since the last time she was out and can get distracted. I started giving her a small treat when we go back inside after she has "finished her business." It really speeds things up, knowing the treat awaits her. She loves going with me on errands or just around the block and used to get very upset if I walked out the door without her. Now, when I'm just taking the trash out or getting something from the car, I just tell her "I'll be right back" and she quietly sits and waits for my return. If I'm going somewhere she can't go, I tell her "I'm sorry but you can't go this time" and she hops up on the back of the sofa, sticks her head out between the curtains and watches me get in the car and drive away.

Posted by: Macie'smom | June 14, 2016 11:11 AM    Report this comment

Two useful cues I've taught all my dogs are "Soon" and "Enough". "Soon" means yes, we will do that, just not this instant. Very helpful to be able to say, "Dinner soon" to stop the whining (though not the drooling). "Enough" means this is behavior that is permitted, but we're done with it for now.

Posted by: fenway | June 14, 2016 9:56 AM    Report this comment

Mine is not so unconventional, I guess. I am a dog sitter and when the dogs get a bit riled up, I say 'kitchen." They know it is treat time. Each dog must take the treat "sweet", or they get passed by. They all know the command and it does come in handy. Another I use is 'you know better". When I use that comment, the dog usually stops what he or she is doing, that they are not supposed to be doing, and looks to me for approval. Nancy D.

Posted by: Nancy Dively | June 13, 2016 12:58 PM    Report this comment

The most amazing thing my english cocker, Willie, learned to do was with the baby toy that has a post on a base that you stack a number of coloured rings on. Originally I would say the colour of the ring - I know dogs don't recognize all colours, I imagine he chose them by size - but later, I would spread the rings around the room and he would do them in order on his own.

Posted by: jeansweezie | June 13, 2016 9:16 AM    Report this comment

This is the most fun thing I taught my dogs. I had two cockers, Katie and Willie. I would ask Katie if she had a cold and she would produce a big, real sneeze. Then I would say to Willie, 'Katie has a cold, what are you going to do?' and he would rush off to find a kleenex box and bring a kleenex to Katie.

Posted by: jeansweezie | June 13, 2016 8:59 AM    Report this comment

I don't know if it was inadvertent conditioning or just that she had a sublime command of English, but my girl Boo learned the phrase "...put her in her kennel, please." If I asked my husband to do that, she would quietly get off the sofa and go stand in her kennel until my husband came to close the crate door. Since this was not something she ever got reinforced for doing in conjunction with that phrase, I'm not sure why she was willing to go, but she was! I miss that girl so.

Posted by: AlwaysTraining | June 13, 2016 7:27 AM    Report this comment

My nine-year-old Border Collie mix, Roxy, has severe glaucoma. A shunt placed in her eye worked its way out, so we are controlling it with eyedrops five/six times a day. I have her eyedrops on a table. When I go sit in a chair by the table and call her, she comes, sits in front of me, and lets me drop the medicine in her eyes.

Among other things, she knows the meaning of"Not for dogs." I like to eat dark chocolate morsels, and she is naturally interested when I have an obvious treat in my hand. When I tell her, "Chocolate is not for dogs," she turns and walks away.

Posted by: wilraven | June 12, 2016 8:57 PM    Report this comment

When I give my Labradoodle, Cheyenne, a meaty bone to chew on, I put down an old towel first. Now anytime she wants a bone she brings me any towel she can find in the house and waves it around in front of me.

Posted by: Cheyenne's Mom | June 12, 2016 8:40 PM    Report this comment

I had a Lab who needed to be watched constantly because he would eat anything that wasn't nailed down, especially paper. I always crated him when I left the house. Many times throughout the day I would need to run upstairs to get something. The minute or two that I was upstairs would be more than enough time for him to get into trouble. So I needed to give him a job that was incompatible with searching for things to swallow. I taught him to lie at the foot of the stairs and wait for me. The cue was, "I have an opportunity for you." The "opportunity" was a chance to earn a treat when I came downstairs. This worked so well that I could spend as much time upstairs as I needed, and he'd be there waiting. Two other Labs came into my household while he was still alive, and they learned from him that the place to be when I was upstairs was at the foot of the stairs.

Posted by: fenway | June 12, 2016 6:02 PM    Report this comment

My dog Clue does AKC tracking - to put on his tracking harness before training or a test I say "I need your head" and he sticks his head into the head opening of the harness and when I say "foot" he lifts up his left foot into the harness so I can fasten it under his belly. - Martha Windisch and tracking dog Clue.

Posted by: mwindisch | June 12, 2016 2:39 PM    Report this comment

Sadie, our blond lab loves to lay under foot in the kitchen, be first to the door or out the gate. Now just a nice polite "excuse me" moves her aside. Another cue is "Going to work" where she just lies down on her cushion and waits for my exciting return. Now putting running shoes which always meant a walk has changed recently for have been wearing running shoes to work. Now the old cue of "Going to work" before the final tie of the laces results in a sad look and a move to the cushion versus. Now running shoes have a double standard, life isn't fair! My final one is "C'mon team", which means everyone, Koda and Finn, my son's dogs and Sadie all know it is the password for time to head out!.

Posted by: CookieJ | June 12, 2016 1:41 PM    Report this comment

We live in a rural community and Fritz doesn't need a leash. Whenever a car is approaching from front or behind, I just say "CAR" and he moves over to the side of the road for,the car to pass. It works for bikes when we hit the trails or see a horse coming. People are quite impressed. When I say this, my friends will move to the side of of the road, it is quite funny.

Posted by: Chouston | June 12, 2016 9:36 AM    Report this comment

Ollie, my Aussie Shepherd, knows a ton of cues, semi-commands, and a doggie common sense behavior that I may or may not have taught him ... he is just so darn smart ... the most useful one is to have him camped in the back seat of the sedan and when I have an errand to run where I can't take him I will simply say: " Daddy will be right back " ... the Daddy part means to Ollie that I will personally return and reward him ... the"right back" part eliminates the time dimension ... he knows ( or accepts ) that it could be 5 minutes or two hours but that his pet boy WILL be back ... if I add SOON, he somehow gets that it will be a brief separation ... how he knows all this is a mystery to me but it works like a charm ... of course, a cookie usually appears when I do ...gotta luv 'em !

Posted by: Vince C | June 11, 2016 5:02 PM    Report this comment

My mini schnauzer, Zeus, has a toy box filled with soft toys that either squeak or make critter appropriate sounds. Each toy has a name, all of which Zeus knows. On any given day, a half dozen toys invariably end up in the dining room, which he considers his play room. In an effort to have Zeus pull his own weight, I tell him to go get each toy, by name, and put it in the box. On most nights Zeus has about a 90 to100% success rate in picking up the right toys and successfully putting them in the box. If he misses, I say "Oops! (Toy name) fell out!" and he will pick it up and try again, sometimes with a slam dunk! Of course this exercise is rewarded for each toy. When we're done, I tell Zeus to "go to bed", whereupon he hops in his crate for his final bedtime treat.

Posted by: ZeusMom | June 11, 2016 3:36 PM    Report this comment

I taught my Airedales to speak on command and then answer questions! I held a hot dripping piece of pork in my hands in front of Chaucer until he finally barked in frustration because he didn't understand the word "speak." Wham; he gets it! Never forgot it. So I'd ask questions by beginning: if you want to go in car, speak! Found out my 13 yr old female Eloise didn't like the car, probably because of arthritis after she being hit by a truck at a year old. She does not respond despite knowing the meaning of the command if her response is negative. There is so much we can teach these incredible souls who will do anything to be with us. Now the question is: do you Want to know what your dog thinks!?

Posted by: Vyse | June 10, 2016 5:55 PM    Report this comment

1. We live in the country and have a large fenced area that is attached to our house and accessed by our back door and at the far end, there is a gate that opens to our larger back yard. Years ago, we had three Rottweilers, all very friendly and good natured. One day I let them out and when I checked on them, only one was in the yard. My husband had left the back gate open. I panicked and grabbed some dog cookies, went to check for any black lumps on the heavily-trafficked road. No lumps, thank God. Then I ran through my neighborhood's back yards while calling them. I was terrified that someone who didn't know them might shoot them. Those two buggers didn't respond to their names, so I did the next best thing. "COOKIES, COOKIES, COME GET SOME COOKIES..."

What should appear but two black dogs with froth covering both of their muzzles, looking for all the world like rabid animals. They'd had quite a fun time racing around the neighborhood! I gave them their cookies and lots of grateful hugs and we walked home together, all in one piece. And then I told my husband about what happened.

2. A few years ago one of my older fur-girls became deaf, so I had to enhance my communication with her with hand signals. I always made a small salad for the dogs and when I was through giving them any more, I crossed my hands, palms down, in front of me and said, "All gone." That worked well, so I used it for other times when it was appropriate.

3. During this time we had a younger girl that I would take out for a walk without the older two. I had to be sneaky to keep the other two from knowing we were going out. I would quietly pick up a leash, catch Penny's eyes and give her the sign for "shhh" and she would come to me very quietly and we would go out.

With over 30 years of having Rottweilers, we have used so many different cues to communicate with them. I have enjoyed seeing what the other people have posted and will adopt some of their cues.

Posted by: Penny'sMom | June 10, 2016 12:11 PM    Report this comment

At one time I had 3 scotties in a very small house. At bedtime I would say "let's go ni-night" and all 3 would go into their crates for the night.

My first scottie, Bonnie, didn't have a doggie door. I hung several small bells on cords that were at her height. When she wanted to go out, she would hit the bells with her foot. I could hear it from anywhere in the house so I would go to the kitchen door and let her out. A year later Bairie and sister Greta came. They learned about the bells from Bonnie, except that Bairie would hit the bells with his nose instead of his foot! Greta would just sit beside the bells and wait for me to notice that she wanted out. If I was in the kitchen, I would usually notice. But if I didn't notice, or if i was in another part of the house, when she became desperate to go, she would then hit the bells. She never had an accident; she just chose not to hit the bells until she just had to go SOON!

They would bark at the mail carrier when he put mail in th box which was near the front door. I asked his cooperation, had him give them treats at the door, and soon they looked forward to his coming--no barking. After they got used to him, he no longer needed to give them treats; he would just greet them when he came and they were happy to see him. I even have a picture of Greta at the window waiting for the mail truck which is visible on the street in front of the house next door.

My rescue scottie that I have had for about a year loves to go with me in the car. When I say "Want to go bye-bye in the car?" she quickly and excitedly goes to the door. If I say "Wait, I have to put my shoes on" or "Wait, I need to go to the bathroom." she very patiently follows me and watches me. When I say "OK" she runs to the door.
If she can't go with me, I say "I'll be back." She runs to the window and watches me leave.

Posted by: maisie | June 10, 2016 10:48 AM    Report this comment

My Dachsie and I live in an apartment, so we have to be careful about noise. When she barks, I put my finger over my mouth and tell her..."inside voice", she then barks more quietly.

Posted by: Carola | June 9, 2016 11:13 PM    Report this comment

Most of my dog training was taught by giving them unconventional cues and behavours but I think the cutest is I taught them nite nite when they go to bed and I'd life up their blanket and they would climb in and I'd give them a kiss, now they sleep in my bed and whenI say nite nite they all (there's 3) come and give me a kiss before getting under the covers to go to sleep. Through the nite, if there're restless all I have to say is "nite nite", they come up, give me a kiss and go back to sleep.,,

Posted by: GeneveGrasso | June 9, 2016 10:38 PM    Report this comment

When I bought my small home almost twenty-six years ago, I moved in with one small, well trained terrier mixed dog, Coya, who went everywhere with me. Within the first year, two more dogs joined my little family. The first was Toby, an eight week old sable sheltie, given to me by my neighbors. The second was a two year old stray blue merle sheltie who just showed up one sunny day when I was doing yard work in the front yard. In those days my dogs were always with me when I worked outside. I'd leave the gate open so they could go inside through the doggie door to get a drink of water when they were thirsty. Before I knew it, Coya and Toby had invited Boomer inside to have a cold drink and relax in the coolness of the house while they watched me through the screen door as I continued working. Boomer ended up moving right in.
I couldn't have allowed my dogs to be loose in the yard unless I knew I could control them with verbal commands. The commands I used just seemed to develop as the need arose. If someone was walking on the sidewalk and approaching my house, I'd just say "Porch go", and all three dogs would go sit on the front porch. I love dogs and always have time to stop and pet one who comes to greet me. However, there are some people who are afraid of dogs, so I always porched mine when strangers were walking by.
When the mail carrier was heading my way, "House go" would send the dogs inside through the doggie door. They would end up at the screen door where they'd stay until the carrier was off my property. I gave them the "All clear" and they'd come back outside with me. I'd say "Backyard go" as I gathered up my tools which signaled I was through for the day. I'd follow up the rear as my dogs would walk single file into the backyard.
Now I'm retired with five not so well trained dogs. They are a work in progress, but I have all the time in the world to give them.

Posted by: KritterMom | June 9, 2016 10:19 PM    Report this comment

I taught my dog "PRIVACY " long ago because she used to follow me into the bathroom when she was younger. So now pretty much any room that i say it...she puts her head down and slowly walks away (long floppy English Cocker ears :-) Also I taught her "HIGH CHAIR" for when i need to put on her harness. The chair is by the back door & it has a seat cushion on it. I say the word & she is at a good height for me because I don't have to bend over to reach her.

Posted by: Hey jude | June 9, 2016 10:03 PM    Report this comment

I taught my dog "NO BIRDS" which let her know that she needed to leave the birds alone. I would tell her this the moment I saw her notice them or when I noticed them and anticipated her spotting them. "NO BIRDS" became a generalized command that applied to squirrels, cats, chipmunks, and other critters.
Janie at www.essentiallydogs.com

Posted by: essentiallydogs | June 9, 2016 9:35 PM    Report this comment

We are retired, living in the country. We also do rescue. Currently we have 12 dogs living in the house. They have a good vocabulary, my favorites are "out of the kitchen", "no begging" comes in use a lot because we usually eat in front of the tv and they are hoping to get a bite. I have also trained them to come to a sports whistle. If I blow once, they know to come home, if I blow three times, they know to come home fast. It's surprising how fast new dogs learn the commands from the old timers.

Posted by: Babe Larson | June 9, 2016 8:54 PM    Report this comment

My dog knows that when I shower, come downstairs, get my to go glass of water and go to the bathroom that it is cage time. If I do those things he knows I am leaving the house and is in his cage ready for me to go and get his treats. Otherwise he
just hangs around like his normal routine.

Posted by: Nonny1210 | June 9, 2016 8:50 PM    Report this comment

Although my husband believes I should use shorter cues, some of the most successful ones are quite a few words.
When we need to let the dogs know they are not going on this particular ride in the car, I tell them "Mommy's going Bye-Bye. You wait". To teach them this cue, I would line them up, make them sit, and pass out high-value treats. This worked so well that even the cat started lining up for a treat!
The recall cue I use however is much shorter. I had read that if one had failed at successfully teaching a command to change the cue. I had failed to teach "Come" as a recall cue, so I chose a new word: "Bozo". I needed a short word that had some hard consonants and would be effective yet have no real meaning to other people as a command. This time I approached recall training the proper way and now whenever we go to the park, everyone else gets a real laugh when I yell "Bozos" and two 110 pound lab mixes stop what they are doing and come bounding to me!

Posted by: shalmarie2 | June 9, 2016 8:14 PM    Report this comment

I LOVED the article. One day, walking my dog Topher, I figured out he must have a vocabulary of at least 200 words. I just started putting a name to him peeing and pooping. He knows "Go pee!" which he will do just about anytime, but it is especially useful at that 10 pm last pee of the night when he just wants to stand there and sniff and listen. For pooping, I just started urging him to "Find your spot and do your business!" It's ridiculously long as a command,but stems from his need to find just the right spot which seems so silly to us but is very important for them. When I get ready to leave the house, I just say "No, I'm sorry, you're not going." As soon as he hears the no, the tail droops and he goes to his bed. One command I deliberately taught him was "Shhh!" stemming from his propensity for barking at thunder. We live in an apartment, so I try to keep him fairly quiet.

Posted by: Topher | June 9, 2016 8:07 PM    Report this comment

I don't call them cues. I simply call them talking to my dogs :-)

Posted by: Jenny H | June 9, 2016 7:37 PM    Report this comment

Our little Yorkie mix Lucy loves to beg for food by patiently sitting and staring at us, but if we say" you can't have this, it's not good for you", she lays down with her back to us and stops asking for some.

Posted by: Krystal waddell | June 9, 2016 7:18 PM    Report this comment

My dogs are not allowed in the kitchen while I'm cooking (mostly because my older one used to stand right behind me while I was at the stove and I turned too often with something hot in my hand only to trip on him). As soon as they see me futzing in the kitchen, they both know they need to leave. My young one is awesome at it; my older one forgets sometimes. Quite by accident, I've now trained him to leave by asking, "Where are you supposed to be?"

He also likes to cross behind me when he's on leash, which often means I have a leash pulling me from behind -- not safe. So, if I say "Other side," he goes around me. We also use it now if he and the leash end up on the wrong side of a sign or tree.

My first dog was the best snooze alarm. Whenever she came to wake me up, if I said "Go away.," she would leave for 15 minutes almost exactly. It was uncanny.

My baby girl can't leave the house without something in her mouth, so I keep a pile of stuffed toys by the back door (because if we run out of her toys, she takes mine). Every night before bed, she has to pick up the yard because there can be upwards of ten toys out there and we need to keep the pile stocked. So, after she pees, I say, "Ok, pick up," and she runs around the yard bringing me all of her toys.


Posted by: kskinct | June 9, 2016 6:57 PM    Report this comment

Our little Yorkie mix Lucy loves to beg for food by patiently sitting and staring at us, but if we say" you can't have this, it's not good for you", she lays down with her back to us and stops asking for some.

Posted by: Krystal waddell | June 9, 2016 6:50 PM    Report this comment

My golden loves to romp in muddy areas. So if he comes in i ask are your feet dirty parker, he dashes into the guest bedrooms bathroom and stands in the shower waiting for me to come wash his feet.

Posted by: Parker pie | June 9, 2016 6:08 PM    Report this comment

when we want to roll up the car windows and need the dogs to get their heads in...we say "Heads Up" and the both pull back promptly. We live on a farm and have some barn cats that we feed twice daily. I just say "time to feed the cats" and they both run to the mud room where I keep the bag used to pack food and water to the barn.

Posted by: dogsdolls | June 9, 2016 5:45 PM    Report this comment

It is so much fun to read how everyone has formed their own "communication" with their dogs! And this gives me a lot of ideas for training my new Fox Red Lab puppy!

Posted by: SlyBrandy | June 9, 2016 4:10 PM    Report this comment

When we had our three rescued female greyhounds we would give them little treats by hand and of course they would continue to stand there waiting for more or leave the area for a second then come back. So I starting saying All Gone and shake my hands after giving them the treat then they knew treat time had ended.

Posted by: SlyBrandy | June 9, 2016 4:09 PM    Report this comment

My mini aussie Ella loves our couch and is always there when in the house until bedtime. However, she loves to beg. So anytime she is begging, I say "couch", and she immediately runs and jumps on the couch to stay no matter where she is in the house. My border collie, Logan, has been taught the word "touch". My husband says "touch", and Logan touches his nose to my husband's nose. I also use it to redirect him from something by asking him to "touch" things. Now he goes around the house in the morning, touching things with his nose.

My other mini aussie, Ruger, has the command "enough". He barks at anyone coming in the house, no matter if they live there or not. "Enough" usually stops him right away.

Posted by: Patriciag | June 9, 2016 3:58 PM    Report this comment

I too inadvertently taught two unconventional cues.

When re-crate training my GSP, I inadvertently taught "in you go" as the command for go to your crate/bed. I would say Desi in you go, crate and "in you go" stuck. Fortunately, we are able to generalize the cue to include the car, the tub and even the baby pool on hot summer days.

The second accidental cue our GSP picked up is "shoo" in place of an off cue. Now when I want to ask him to get off the chair, sofa, bed, etc., we say "shoo."

Lastly, when the dogs are going on an outing with us especially when a car ride is involved we exclaim "everybody goes!" It immediately gets them excited and ready for an adventure!

Posted by: CaroPR | June 9, 2016 3:00 PM    Report this comment

We've taught Spencer, our little terrier mix who looks like a mini lab these cues and behaviors... all for kibble, of course:
bust a move - up on hind feet and move in a circle
alligator - roll over
pup du soleil - he olds onto a tug toy on the carpet, lays on one side and you gently pull him in a circle and his paws look like he is swimming
kiss - he will kiss your hand, or your cheek if you are close enough to him
hang ten - both paws at one time
give me five - simple, like teaching shake... but we mixed it up: 'give me 5' is for his left paw, 'other side' is for his right paw, and 'around the back' is when the person turns around and puts out the sole of one shoe and Spencer will touch it with his left paw.
he's a joy to teach and he loves to learn.... but still has a hard time with 'come when called' and hearing his name... hmmm, guess we have some work to do :)

Posted by: Debra Lee | June 9, 2016 2:40 PM    Report this comment

I have three Great Danes 2 females and 1 male I have taught all three of them to go pee or poop on command when asked. And yes when out in public I can ask my dogs not to go out in certain areas to wait. They will wait till I tell them to go where I tell them to go where they can go.
When in our home in our kitchen I can tell all three Danes to go sit in their chairs and get out of the kitchen. The chairs are actually big round dog beds in our family room. They know this is their cue to go out and give us space in the kitchen.
I have Lily my 5yr old Dane that is trained to howl a high pitch howl at me when I am not in the house -in the garage or out in the back yard when the phone rings. Never fails she is on cue and alerts me to the phone ringing. I have never missed a call.

Posted by: Peanut33 | June 9, 2016 1:59 PM    Report this comment

If I'm in the kitchen washing up and Seltzer, our Lab, is hanging around for any extras I simply say to him, "It's ok, I'm just washing up. You can relax" and he goes and lies down. He also likes his butt scratched and if I say, "Tushie scratch?" he comes over, turns around and is ready for his tushie scratch. He's very cute.

Posted by: Lightlover | June 9, 2016 1:57 PM    Report this comment

When I'm cooking and drop something on the floor that's safe for my dog to eat, I call out "clean up on aisle five!" and my dog come right away to clean the mess!

Posted by: bevgagnon | June 9, 2016 1:46 PM    Report this comment

When I'm cooking and drop something on the floor that's safe for my dog to eat, I call out "clean up on aisle five!" and my dog come right away to clean the mess!

Posted by: bevgagnon | June 9, 2016 1:45 PM    Report this comment

We recently adopted a Berner pup who had been returned for being "aggressive and scary". Sheba is just a very intense dog and the deprivation she endured in the first home contributed to her insecurity and desperate behavior. She particularly used her mouth on everything and had little bite inhibition. Thus the command "where's your toy" became the tool to keep that mouth busy while she greets and interacts with us. She's now almost a year old, and while still intense, she is much, much better.

Posted by: Wyomingsara | June 9, 2016 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Whenever we had to leave our dog home alone, we would tell him that he must be a "big boy." Whenever he heard "big boy" he knew he wasn't coming with us and went to his bed, turned his face to the wall and pouted until we came home.

Posted by: moyer02 | June 9, 2016 1:23 PM    Report this comment

My spaniel rescue loves to have her butt scratched, so I just say bum and she backs up to my chair so I can reach her butt. She would stand there for hours if I had the ability to scratch her all day and all night.

Posted by: Mollies mum | June 9, 2016 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Because of my tracheotomy, I've developed a series of claps instead of verbal commands (forget the clicker ~ they need to hear it out on my acre+). You'd be surprised how quickly they now the difference ~ especially my "I'm serious clap" since I don't have an "I'm serious voice".

Posted by: Patricia | June 9, 2016 1:10 PM    Report this comment

I have a service dog. Yes, most handlers or trainers teach their dogs to pee and poop on command. I personally use the command "time to potty". Additionally, most guide dogs are taught a specific spot in relation to their handler where to go so the handler knows exactly where to find it.

Another command many service dogs are taught is "wait". This can be used for many things like loading or unloading the dog from the vehicle or letting a group pass you in the grocery store.

Posted by: canedog2006 | June 9, 2016 1:10 PM    Report this comment

We have a large 4x4 truck that is quite high, and I crate my dogs in the back seat.
It is too high for them to jump in and out of and dangerous should they try, so I taught then the phrase "just toes" and so they calmly put their front paws on the lowest part of the back doors and wait for our assistance to hike them into the crates.

Posted by: redfield | June 9, 2016 1:02 PM    Report this comment

We taught our dog to "clean up" after she's torn the stuffing out of a toy. She loves dissecting toys so instead of ruining her fun I made sure she cleaned up after herself. This sort of morphed into her picking up even the tiniest piece of lint in hopes of a treat. But company always gets a kick out of it so I don't mind the "begging".

Posted by: Stephenie D | June 9, 2016 12:21 PM    Report this comment

We realized quickly that "come" had a negative association for our rescued lab, so we "accidentally" replaced it with "Bicky Time!" (Bickies are what we call treats in our house). She now has THE best recall. Perfect for even a stubborn female lab like she is :) Of course, you better have that Bicky handy.

Posted by: Mmills1500 | June 9, 2016 12:17 PM    Report this comment

'Off' Whenever I want her to get off the sofa, bed, chair etc I whisper the word 'off'. I don't have to shout the word as some people do. She is very responsive.

Posted by: AbbeyWoo | June 9, 2016 12:03 PM    Report this comment

We had a black lab mix, Nubie, who was about one year old when we decided to adopt a kitten from the local pound. We wanted the kitty to stay in the house for a while so he could learn his new surroundings, but he had other ideas. At 10 weeks old he was jumping out any window he could find, no matter how high it was. Somehow, without really meaning to, when the kitten got out we would take Nubie with us to try to find the cat, and "find the kitty" became his cue. He could find that cat no matter where the cat was, and did it until the day he died.

Posted by: Kim Wisdom | June 9, 2016 11:58 AM    Report this comment

I have 2 unusual commands I inadvertently taught. One was with my bearded collie. My most common place of grooming him is sitting on the ground with him. I would groom one side, then have him stand and lay back down and then groom the other side, not realizing that when I did this I would say, "other side". Now, I realized that all I need to do is say "other side", and on his own he will stand up and lay down on the other side so I can continue grooming.

Second one is, with 3 long haired dogs (Bouvier, Briard and Bearded Collie), its not uncommon to occassionally have a mess under the tail which will result in an unplanned bath. This mess under the tail I had labeled "crusty butt". Now, on simply saying "crusty butt", my briard heads to the bath tub. And has also headed to the bath tub on words that sound similar "krusteaz buttermilk pancakes", and "Crested Butte", for example :-)

Posted by: karendeitke | June 9, 2016 11:58 AM    Report this comment

Meda It's Spanish for look. If I don't want them to leave the car yet I say wait. Four on the floor is used and I want them to calm down and not to jump.

Posted by: PatC | June 9, 2016 11:45 AM    Report this comment

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