Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 15, 2016

More fun and useful unconventional cues and behaviors

Posted at 02:44PM - Comments: (15)

As I said in last week’s blog post, we have received lots of submissions from readers – descriptions of cute, fun, and useful behaviors they have taught their dogs, or that their dogs have taught them! We will post a bunch of these over the next few days. Maybe you will be inspired to teach your dog a cool new behavior!

My Lab-mix LOVES to play fetch.  She's so great at chasing a tennis ball anywhere.  She will always come running back with it and kind of toss it back at me to throw it again.  If we're playing in the backyard and I'm sitting down and she tosses it out of reach, instead of getting up from my chair and getting the ball I simply say, "Can't reach it."  She has learned that means I can't reach the ball to throw it to her again.  When I say, "Can't reach it," she will go and get the ball and drop it right at my feet so that I can reach it and throw it for her again. 

When people see us do this they all think it's the craziest, coolest thing!  I didn't actually train her to do it, but boy does it come in handy!

Debbi Merrill & Gumbo
Bartlett, Illinois

We suspect lots of owners who have dogs who love to fetch have a similar cue as described in the following submission, without even being aware of it!

I have several fun things that I have been doing with my dogs for nearly 40 years! My students seem to like these words, too, and many have added them to their dog's vocabulary.

My dogs are taught to bark when I say "Tell" – they can pick that work out of any sentence. For example, when we get a biscuit at the bank I say, "Can you tell them thank you very much?" Or, “Can you tell me what time it is?” ("Good" after appropriate number of barks). Or, “Can you tell her "please?"  “Tell them goodbye!” etc...

My current dogs do not lie down and roll over, they "hit the deck" and "capsize".... Paw is "Ahoy matey" and High-five is "Welcome aboard"..... To jump up on their chair is "crow's nest"  and permission to play roughly is "Mutiny!!!”  I clearly had too much time on my hands when they were young!!

And when asking them to stop barking, we say "That'll do" – from the movie, “Babe.”

Jennifer Kesner
Canine Consulting

We love the idea of using “Tell” as a cue for a bark!

Pack of Jack Russel Terriers

I have a Jack Russell Terrier Rescue and have a large pack of my own Jacks.  My oldest Jack is 19 years and youngest is 1-1/2 years.  One of my Super Senior Jacks, Emma Biaggio, is 14 years old, and the first 10 years of her life she raced with me in the Storm the Bastille Evening Race in Milwaukee, WI.  I always used “kick it” and she would rear up like a little horse and bolt.  Everyone who was on Broadway (the halfway mark in the race) could not believe their eyes when this little 6 lb. Jack would bolt. 

Also, even though I have a large pack, it is very orderly. They have learned the difference in keeping quiet by my saying “House Bark” and “Keep it to a low roar.”  “Watch it” is used often.  As well as, “On guard,” where they are ready for anything.  “Leave it” only has to be said once and when I say “Dancing Queen,” Emma dances and dances.

Penelope J. Wagner
First Friends Animal Rescue Inc

Now we have the ABBA song stuck in our heads . . .

Our Siberian Husky, Sierra, loves dog biscuits, which we have always called  "cookies." She will whine (aka, Husky woo-woo) when she wants more than she can have, up until she hears, first: "No more COOKIES!" followed by, "TOO MANY cookies!"

She is 10 now, but still able to jump up on the couch if she hears her '”fanfare” as she approaches the couch, which goes like this: "Da, ta, da, ta, da, ta, daaaaa...JUMP!" at which point, she will back up, get a running start, and do just that.

When we walk her in the park, she always gravitates to the edges of the woodsy sections where the poison ivy and ticks tend to be. She now knows not to go there, and will back away onto the grass, when she hears, "No EDGES."

Jan D. Marlan, Ph.D.
Pittsburgh, PA

We’d bet there is an adorable sad-faced behavior after the “TOO MANY cookies!” cue!


You can find last week's blog post with more submissions from our readers here.

Comments (15)

Ranger, one of my 3 Golden Retrievers, is a rescue dog and his biggest hobby is stealing things. I taught him to clean up the 3 empty dog bowls after breakfast and dinner. I tell him to "Clean up the dishes." and he brings them to me one at a time. After each dish I give him a treat. Sometimes he is so excited about cleaning up the dishes that he forgets to get his treat. I also taught him to help me with the laundry. He takes a piece of clothing out of the dryer and gives it to me so I can fold it. I ask him if there is any more laundry and he grabs another one and hands it to me. He even climbs half way into the dryer to get the clothes in the very back. Occasionally he does run off with a sock, but what do you expect. He's a Golden!!!

Posted by: mercy | June 20, 2016 10:12 PM    Report this comment

I'm loving this blog. So many good ideas! I taught my dog, Piccolo, to go find my slippers by using the cue, "My feet are cold!' He goes running off searching for my big pink fluffy slippers. He can only carry one at a time, so when he brings me the first one I tell him "My other foot is cold!" Off he goes, and when the second one arrives he gets his treat. : )

Posted by: Stars%26Stripes | June 18, 2016 5:17 PM    Report this comment

Dancing Queen made me think of my much loved yellow Labrador, Sonny, now departed for many years. He was a young dog when the television series, Friends, was popular, and we were regular viewers. Every Thursday, at 8 pm, we were in front of the television (prior to the DVR days), and, when the peppy theme song came on, Sonny and I would jump up from the couch and dance around the living room. It didn't take too long before Sonny recognized the theme song himself, and he would jump up and give me that "are we going to dance?" look. As he got older, and the series went into reruns, we watched the reruns, and he always looked at me with that sparkle in his eye when the theme song came on, even if we didn't dance so much because of his arthritis. Makes me happy and sad at the same time now, to tell the story. Whenever I hear that theme song now, and Sonny passed many years ago, it still brings the sweet memory and a smile to my face.

Posted by: RhondaK | June 17, 2016 12:38 PM    Report this comment

My two labs learned how to retrieve the daily newspaper. Every morning I would say 'let's get the paper', and in a short time, they learned to retrieve the paper. All the neighbors were very impressed. I also taught them to find my Roomba, the little vacuum that I had to use daily because, of course, I had two labs! I gave them a hand signal, and told them to 'find Dusty', which was the name I gave the Roomba, and they would find it, wherever it was, which was usually under a bed or somewhere that was difficult for me to find. That trick saved me so much time! Now, sadly, my male lab has passed (he was almost 14), and his sister, who is over 14 now, can no longer find Dusty, but she can still carry in the mail and the newspaper if I hand it to her. And I won't begin to tell you all the tricks they taught me!

Posted by: SohieTuck | June 16, 2016 4:50 PM    Report this comment

My dogs are kenneled at night. They know the cue "kennel" means to go to the kennel, but they've also adopted the cue "night night" since I would say that after they were in their kennels every night. So, now I can say "It's night night time" and off they go to their kennels.

Posted by: Pippa's Mom | June 16, 2016 12:02 PM    Report this comment

About 40 years ago I had a mixed mutt named Serina who would respond to commands in American Sign Language. No, she wasn't deaf, nor am I. She learned say please, roll over, play dead, dance, and speak using those signs. The only different one I taught her that was not sign language was to speak softly when she was too loud. I used the Italian word soto voce which means soft voice. If she was too quiet I would cup my ear with my hand and she'd bark louder.

Posted by: Shiatsu | June 16, 2016 11:35 AM    Report this comment

At 9:45pm each evening we ask our Boxer Rosie to "go peeps" enthusiastically and point to the back door. This ensures she doesn't wake us at 2am to go outside. At first she was reluctant, especially when it is cold and rainy outside. She complies now, and even will wakes up from a dead sleep at exactly 9:45pm to "go peeps", knowing she will get a cookie afterwards.

Posted by: Laurenmaddock | June 16, 2016 11:25 AM    Report this comment

Our Golden retriever, Daisy, was a 2011 Christmas gift. The early months of 2012 were very rainy, even for Southeast Texas, and the kitchen floor was a wet mess every time she came inside. After a few weeks of constant mopping, I found an old plastic laundry basket, lined it with towels, and set Daisy in it every time she came through the door. I'd dry her feet, give her a treat, and say, "Jump in and dry your feet." Soon, she was big enough to jump in! Today, at 65 pounds, Daisy barely fits in the basket, but still jumps in, sits down, and waits to be dried...and to be given the treat, of course. When our son and his two yellow Labs lived here, Daisy taught Apollo and Athena the same trick...during our rainy spring this proved really helpful.

Posted by: Daisysmom | June 16, 2016 11:05 AM    Report this comment

I love all the comments. I taught my dog, Ranger, a cocker spaniel, to stop at the cross walks by saying "Whoa", he now stops when ever I say whoa. He also will take paper towel rolls, cereal boxes and other small items to recycle box. When he hears us open a box he comes running, and gets his treat once box is in the recycle. He will pick up his toys at night to put away then he goes to bed.

Posted by: Grannie | June 16, 2016 10:56 AM    Report this comment

When I want my dogs to Sit in order to mean "please", I say,"What Do You Say"?
They immediately sit forexample, when wanting to go through a door.

Posted by: Aricia | June 16, 2016 10:33 AM    Report this comment

When it's time for my dog to take her allergy pill which she has to do three times a day I go to get the pill and then call out, "come get your pill" and she comes running to take her pill which she gets with a lump of peanut butter and that is her reward.

Posted by: Sara's Mom | June 16, 2016 9:30 AM    Report this comment

This is a very cute article. I really enjoyed it including the comments.

Posted by: Sara's Mom | June 16, 2016 9:24 AM    Report this comment

I'm loving reading all of these!
I've managed to catch an action with our Jack Russell Terrier, Gromit. When I say, "shake" I'm not asking for his paw, but in wet weather I get him to shake the water off of his coat before entering the house.
We also use "inside" as mentioned in the article - it's not necessarily "come", but just stop what you're doing and get into the house right now, whether I'm in the house or out in the yard with him.
Another cue he has is "upstairs" - at the end of the day it lets him know it's time for all of us to go up to bed.

Posted by: sandrahoo | June 16, 2016 9:14 AM    Report this comment

My GSD Eli started to grab at the mail when I went to the mail box, I would hand him a piece of junk mail to carry. At first he would want to rip it up so I would take it away and he did not get a reward. When he carried it in the house without ripping it he got jackpot rewards. He also started to want to carry deliveries from UPS. If he can fit it in his mouth he wants to carry it boxes, grocery bags, mail etc. when he does a good job he gets his jackpot reward.. For Eli this is all self taught I just captured it and rewarded it.. Plastic grocery bag are still a challenge since his teeth punch holes then tear so no soft or fragile item can be carried. I always know when the mail or UPS guy comes.

Posted by: Jill and Eli | June 16, 2016 9:05 AM    Report this comment

I have two fourteen year old pups...a mini poodle and a little havanese who joined Us when the poodle was five years old. There was such a contest to get out the door to go potty or go for a walk that I started saying "Who goes first?" At that, they both step back so I can go out first...pack leader style. It also helps as we walk especially when a person is coming toward us, they both either get behind me or stay on the grass.

Posted by: Opolly | June 16, 2016 8:45 AM    Report this comment

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