Sarah Foster’s Dog Cue Dictionary


To be more precise, this is the cue dictionary for Sarah’s dog, Jane! Sarah may use other cues for some of the same behaviors with other dogs.

It helps to keep track of exactly what it is that you expect the dog to do when you use a certain cue. If your dog is often confused about a particular cue or behavior, you might look over your own dictionary to determine whether your definition or cue has drifted away from what you originally taught your dog, or whether you have cues or behaviors that are easy to mistake for another one.

Words in bold are verbal cues.

Beep, beep, beep: Dog backs up.

Behind (AKA right finish): Dog walks from front of handler to handler’s right side and crosses behind the handler to the left side and sits or heels.

Cheek: Touch target with cheek.

Chin: Touch target with chin.

Come: Dog comes to me close enough to grab her collar.

Down: Front end down, back end down, immediate, until released; hand signal is palm down, push hand down.

Flip (aka left finish): Dog walks from front of handler to handler’s left side and turns around to the left to face the same direction as the handler and sits or heels. Physical signal is to swing my arm back and front. (Note: I’m changing her left finish to a swing finish. The behavior is the dog pivots from the front of handler to heel position by rotating her hind end in a half circle. I have taken the finish off the verbal cue until the new finish is exactly what I want.)

Fly: Dog goes out to object, goes around, returns.

Front: Dog sits directly in front of handler until release.

Get: Dog picks up object and returns it.

Give: Dog drops whatever is in her mouth.

Hold: Dog holds object in mouth until released.

Inside: Jump inside object.

Let’s go (heel): Dog walks on handler’s left side, no lagging or forging, stops when handler stops.

Lick: Dog licks lips.

Okay: Dog is released from last cue given, dog should be relaxed.

Over: Jump over object.

Pick up: Dog picks up object.

Paw: Touch target with paw.

Please: Dog puts chin on leg and looks up at me.

Push: Dog pushes ball or unrolls yoga mat.

Ring: Dog hits button on bell.

Sit: Hind end on ground, immediate, until released, watches me; hand signal is palm up, lift hand up.

Spin: Dog turns around counterclockwise. Hand signal: I circle my index finger, which is pointing down.

Stand: All paws on ground, legs fully extended, until released.

Touch: Touch target with nose.

Tunnel: Dog goes through tunnel.

Up: Jump on object.

Wait: Dog doesn’t move until I release her. Hand signal is palm in front of dog’s face. For running wait the verbal cue is the same, but the right arm bends upward as if throwing a ball underhand.

XYZ: Dog dips head down.