Tuesday, March 12, 2013

English as a Second Language

I've thought about writing this post a bunch of times. It's a topic that interests me but I am really not much of a writer here on the blog. My posts tend to be primarily photographic. It's much quicker that way and gives that instant gratification and sense of accomplishment ;-)

It amazes me how much of our language Jimmy and Wilson actually pick up on. There is of course the run of the mill stuff we deliberately teach them like Sit, Stay, Down, and Come. They definitely know what these words mean, regardless of whether they do what we ask. But it's the words and even phrases they pick up from everyday chatter that really amaze me.

Let me regale you with a few examples.....

When it's time for a walk, I have three options for leaving the house....via the backdoor into the yard, via the door that leads into the garage, or via the front door (a real rarity). I ask, "Wanna go for a walk?" to get things started. All dogs know those words! The boys hop up and the frenzy begins. Oh, boy! Oh, boy! We're going out! Usually they assume it's going to happen through the back door and head that way. I'll say, "Nope! We're going through the garage..." and before I can even get out of my chair, they've switched directions and are waiting at the other door. Then I remember I left the leashes in the back yard and say, "Oops, We're going out the back....." and, zoom, they are waiting at the back door again!

When we return from our walks, we have the same options....through the garage or heading around the side of the house to the gate into the back yard. I can be standing around talking to a neighbor and say, "OK, boys! Around back!" and they will dash around the side of the house and wait for me to open the gait.

On Tuesday nights, Jimmy and I usually have agility class. I get home from work earlier than usual and take the guys for a walk, give them dinner (another word they know even if you whisper it!) and get ready. I'll tell Jimmy, "It's school tonight!" While I'm upstairs, he goes and sits by the door to the garage and waits.

A couple Wilson is famous for....His best buddy Mousse (a chocolate lab, of course!) lives a few blocks away. Just ask Wilson, "Wanna visit Mousse?" and you'd better have the leash on! He takes off like a streak and ends up on Mousse's doorstep a few minutes later. The same is true if you ask him, "Wanna go swimming?". He just about sprints to the neighborhood lake!

Jimmy know exactly which toy to get when I say, "Get your Squeekie!". He flies to the toy basket and gets the big blue Cuz....never Wilson's little red Cuz. He also knows, "Find your John!" and runs in search of wherever John might be in the house.

 They know "Last bite!" and "All gone!" means any hope of more snacking is over and they leave the kitchen.

They both know "Bedtime!" and head upstairs before the TV is even off!

Now, of course, dogs are the ultimate masters of body language and I am sure they cue into subtle movements we make while we speak, but they really do have a pretty good grasp of what's going on!

I could come up with lots more examples, but I've already made you read way more than is usual for my blog. So! How about your dogs? What phrases have they picked up from everyday life?


  1. I not only speak dog but human too. My fav words apart from the obvious SQUIRREL are chicken and Ssshh when we have to creep out the house and go for a walk without waking up ancient Pip. My most hated words are bath time and get down, mostly from the back of the sofa where I do most of my security work. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. So cute! Finn definitely knows the "wanna go". She also knows to run to the front door when I say "Daddy's home" and she knows what upstairs is and do you want to go to bed! It's amazing!

  3. Wrigs knows the words for most of the interesting animals we run into (squirrel, bunny, "bambi" [for deer], javies [for javelinas], etc.), many of his toys and other objects, and friends (such as his best pal Dee Dee). He also knows what I mean when I say "Where'd you leave it?" I use that when he drops a stick or toy somewhere, and then he goes back to wherever he left it and picks it up. Other words: cookie, breakfast, dinner. The list goes on . . .

    Susan and Wrigs

  4. Great post! It is interesting to know what types of words and phrases cause other dogs to react.

  5. Denzil (my parents' Cardi) has picked up on the fact that food has fallen on the floor when my mom says, "oops." When she says the word he now comes barreling to wherever she is - especially if she's in the kitchen :)

  6. The first thing I did with Beamer when we got him was crate train him. So he knows "in your crate" like the back of his paw. I can say it from my room upstairs and he'll go down into the kitchen and into his crate. Sometimes, I like to mix it up and say "Mr. Beamer, I do believe it is past your bedtime. Won't you please go in your crate?" And he'll go in his crate from wherever he is in the house. He knows a few other sentences, like "who's at the door?" or "where's Audi?", but "in your crate" is probably the most amusing.

  7. PS. We adore Jimmy and Wilson, so we've nominated you guys for two awards. Check them out at our blog @usoncloud9.blogspot.com :)


  8. Georgia understands quite a bit (and sometimes, we wish she doesn't ;) Our old dog Jordan, was a master at understanding sentences. I try to talk to all our dogs in sentences because I can't stand baby talk LOL. They possibly pick up one or two words from a sentence like "front" when we say "let's go out the front door today" I think you're right, they pick up on all sorts of cues like body language as well. Georgia e.g. understands that putting on sneakers first thing in the morning means its time for a walk. She doesn't react the same way when we put on sneakers at a random hour. Dogs really have adapted well to living with us humans! I think Wilson and Jimmy are super smart for figuring out your 3 exits!


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