Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ps and Cues

How many cues does your dog know? We used to call them "commands" in the olden days, but how much nicer is "cue"? Your dog can learn literally hundreds of words, and I've yet to run into a dog who says, "Wait! I can't possibly learn one more word!" So put a name on it! Keep your dog's brain growing and his life interesting!

Does your dog know only sit, down, and come? He knows a lot more behaviors than those, so call them something. And of course teach new behaviors, too.

When Tanner came to live with us, he came pre-installed with spinning in circles in happiness. (Yep, pretty cute.) So we tagged it with "spin." He already did it, so I created a party trick. "Spin" eventually became "left" and "right," which are quite useful, especially for agility competition. Since Dori loves fetch so much, she knows the names of her favorite toys and "upstairs" and "downstairs." Why not?

Oh, cues make your life easier! Telling the three dogs "rug" to sit and stay on our area rug means I can go pick up the fuzzy mouse cat toy I don't want them to try to eat. Telling Dori to go "up on the chair and settle" means I can stop playing fetch for a while. Telling Tommy "no bushes" means he will skip peeing where he shouldn't and move on.

A guy recently passed me on the sidewalk while I was working with a pair of dogs, and I noticed him turn and look over his shoulder after he passed. Yes, we were all very cute, but it really was because I was talking to the dogs. There are too many dog guardians on the street who are on their phones, let alone giving cues to their dogs. Guess whose dog is more enraptured by her person?

Teaching new cues with new behaviors is great and you should--but in the meantime, just name the things your dog already does and see how much he picks up on his own. Don't let him live in a world filled only with "sit," "down," and "come" (and does he really come when you say that, anyhow?). I'll help!