More fun and useful unconventional cues and behaviors


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.