How much of human language does your dog comprehend?

I hate to brag but goodness, my dogs can comprehend quite a bit of english, tiny bit of Italiano:

come here
don’t touch
do you want to walk?
do you want a “w-a-l-k”?
take the dogs
go with him
he’s taking you
going to the park
let’s go!
get in
get out
up here
stop that!
it’s ok
I’m ok
stop it
be gentle
Any other dog owner have a similar list or longer?

Our dog comprehends Sit, Lie down, Jess!, and the click of fingers. The click of fingers seems to be the most powerfull message to the dog (it means ‘go where the human points right after the click’) The click is something I learned from my dear mum.

Now if only this darn kitten could be as obedient to the click as the dog is.

My min-pin recognizes: sit, food, i’m gonna get it (we have to tease him to get him to eat sometimes), here, get your toy, go, bug (he looks at the ground), fly (looks in the air), squirrel (looks out of the window), off, no, wait, ok, and ow (at which he attacks the person who made me say ow).

Of course, just because he recognizes those doesn’t mean he actually listens. With the exception of bug, fly, and squirrel, he’ll only follow the other commands when it suits him.

Oh, and he knows two sounds very well…the snap of a rubber band (his favorite toy) and the sound his harness makes when it’s pulled out of the drawer (because going on walks is even better than chasing rubber bands, bugs, flys, and squirrels combined).

In addition to most of the ones you posted, pace, ours know:

get in your bed
go wake up/find/follow [so and so]
easy (what we say instead of “be gentle”)
just hang on/wait one minute/not yet
garbage night
[so and so]'s home
and the names of various toys and such

  • = they know the words even when they’re spelled out loud, making certain conversations difficult due to excited barking
    ** = we actually ask our big one if she has to do one or the other, and she’ll bark for a yes
    Although, despite all the commands they understand, lately they’ve decided they’re not so much commands as they are suggestions

I train service dogs. Our vocab list is fairly long! On average, we teach approximately 80 some individual commands/words in a variety of combinations.

I should pull out the list! :wink: It’s amazing how much stuff dogs can actually learn, and how they can figure out very wee variations in some basic commands… for example, I have about 5 different versions of the command “down”.

Down = a sit, followed by an extension of the front paws, elbows to the floor. I insist on a “sphynx down”, which means all legs are tucked under, ready to get up at an second’s notice.
Crash = a “collapsed down”, where both the front and back legs fold under at the same time.
“Take a Load Off” = a down from a sit where the legs may go to the side.
“Under” = a down executed under a table or a chair.
“Tuck-your-tail” = an addition to any of these downs where the dog tucks his or her tail so people don’t step on it.

All these variations are easy to teach if you use operant conditioning. I am always amazed at how they pick up slight differences in very similar commands (like the difference between touch/press/open/nudge)…

We haven’t tried to teach our three dogs very much, since they aren’t exactly Mensa mutts. But they are very good at learning the names of foods. For example, you can’t say “jellybean” around our dogs without getting them all excited. We started referring to jellybeans as “J-B”, and the dogs learned that, too. Now we’re using the Pig Latin version, ellyjay eanbay, and I fully expect that those hungry doggles will comprehend Pig Latin very soon indeed.

Let’s see, Joplin knows sit, stay (knows it, doesn’t always obey it), down, heel, “gimme paw,” “gimme the other paw,” supper, food, cookie, treat, dog biscuit, ride, walk-in-the-park, go (as in for a ride), shopping (a visit to the pet store), snuggle-sleeping, HEY (which means drop it right now or else), no, and outside. If I say I’m going to work, he seems to know that as well and goes into the other room with a rather resigned look on his face.
He’s not super-smart, genius material, but then, neither am I.

Browsing the thread quickly, I think Nimbus loses to most of your dogs. I’m pretty sure he’s got dinner, walk, and out. And that’s about it.

My favorite dog when I was growing up was a pretty smart dog. Its been too long for me to remember all the words he recognized but there is one that sticks out.

When someone came into the house (or when he came into the house after having gone somewhere) he would come up to you and say hello. Not having a particularly human shaped mouth he had real trouble with h’s and l’s so it came out more like ew-woe but none the less very understandable. At one point he walked up to someone who he had never met and who didn’t particularly like dogs and said hello to her. She nearly fell out of her chair from shock that the dog said hello to her. Nobody had to tell her what he had said it was plainly obvious to her.
We didn’t try to train him to do this we simply said hello to him when we saw him and one day he just started answering back.

“Cookie” is the most popular word, to judge by her reaction. Others, like: No, Come here, Come back here, Get over here, Where do you think you’re going… well, she responds to them randomly. :smiley:

The one that used to crack me up - when we lived in Florida and still had the Dalmatian as well as the mutt we have now, we’d bed them down in the laundry room. Just before we headed to bed, we’d say “Bedtime for doggies” and they’d head to the laundry room. Now we give Bernie the run of the house, except for the basement and our bedroom, and she sleeps where she wants. No more bedtime for doggies…

I sometimes think it would be easier to tell you what they DON’T understand .

My dogs all know the basic obedience commands of heel , sit , down , come , stay , take it , over , etc . Other commands are watch me , wait , back , shame , no , OK , here , find it , take it nicely…

Some of them have special words or phrases none of the others understand . Kharma knows ‘gimme a hug’ , and she does … puts her frong legs around my neck and squeezes . Jay knows ‘lay your head’ , when I’m holding him , he will lay his head on my shoulder very dramatically . His command to roll over is ‘roll with it baby !’ . ‘Gimme a kiss’ (or kissies) is understood my all of them .

Then there are the conversational words that they recognize : bye bye (a BIG favorite in my house :smiley: ) , potty , get your toy , couch , bed , walk , water , snackie , cookie , ice , dinner (or dins) ,leave your brother(or sister) alone , and many more I am forgetting .

Then we get into the really weird stuff . all of my dogs , past and present , have had favorite foods , and they have learned to associate their food with it’s name (or nicname .) My male Gordon Setter Corey (1989 - 2003) LOVED spaghetti , which I called ‘sketties’ when talking to him . All had to do was mention sketties , and it would send him into a whirling , spinning frenzy . Jay , my male Papillon , has 2 favorites - pizza (peet-zee to Jay) and chicken (chickee) . Either word starts him licking his lips and whining . Holly , my first Gordon (1982 - 1992) loved peanut butter . You could casually ask her if she wanted a peanut butter sandwich , and she would stop what she was doing and go sit in front of the cabinet where it was kept , and wait very patiently for you to fix it for her . They ALL know what steakie and hot doggies are .

I taught my Gordon Setter Abbie (1986 - 1998) to turn off the light at the wall switch , and her mother Holly to put trash in the trash can . Fancy (1994 - 2005) would bring my my car keys on command and pick up nearly anything I dropped .

I think dogs are pretty amazing . The more you work with them , the more intelligent they become .

I think that is a curse, at times :wink: Pirate, now almost 11 months, is too smart for his owners, no matter how hard we try to outsmart him. He gets bored with service exercises and will actually set up the exercise/problem himself after he’s seen you do it a few times and then perform it just to prove to you that he has it down, thankyouverymuch, and that we should move on to something else. :eek:

I used to train using the “old-school” approach of jerk & pop / praise, manipulating dogs into the right positions and so forth. Now, I primarily use operant conditioning and I find I am producing dogs who can pretty much think their way out of any problem. It’s really amazing! The difference in the learning approach is phenomenal - instead of having an obedient dog who waits for the next command, I have obedient dogs who, if no command is issued, will try to offer a behavior and figure out what it is you want. For a service dog, this is a great tool - if the automatic door button fails to work after they are sent out to “get the door”, they will think of an alternate way of getting into the building. For example, when it happened to Pirate, he went over to the door and put his paws up on the handle to let me know that I’d have to pull it to get in (after the mechanism failed.) With the old J&P style, the dog would have gone out, the mechanism would have failed, and the dog would have returned to me to wait for the next “command”.

Hee. Anyone who has a pet and wants to have fun training just for fun, pick up a copy of Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot The Dog”. Awesome book!

I’m not sure my dog Lucy knows any English. (We got her when she was four and wasn’t really into being trained.) But she is very good with tone of voice. It doesn’t really matter what you say, but if you chide her in an angry tone, she’ll back away, low to the ground, with her tail between her legs. And you can call her anything, as long as you do it in the right tone. My sister once got her to come by yelling “Christmas tree! Christmas tree!” in the same tone that we usually call “Lu!” She also recognizes the sound of someone opening a package of string cheese, only her favorite food item in the world, and will come running from anywhere in the house to plead for a bite.

I suppose we’re lucky that Lu is inclined to be well-behaved on her own. She only weighs 7 lbs anyway, not like she could do much damage if she wanted. (She’s a chihuahua/terrier mix.) I’m going to visit my mom and dad in nine days! I get to see my puppy dog!

I had to laugh when I saw walk and w-a-l-k on the OP’s list. That happened to me too. I spelled out words that I didn’t want my dogs to recognize when I didn’t want to excite them, and before long they knew the spelled versions as well.

My dogs impressed me the most by learning “Do you wanna…?” and “…'s coming.” With both, they learned not only the meaning of the phrase, but that it means different things according to how I fill in the blank.

“Mom’s coming.” has them waiting by the door.
“Grammy’s coming.” has them waiting by the door in an excited frenzy. Grammy brings treats!

With "Do you wanna? we play a game. I’ll say:

"Do you wanna…(long pause for effect while their ears perk up)…
…carrot? mild enthusiasm

"Do you wanna…airplane? - blank look

"Do you wanna…bath? - ears sink

"Do you wanna…cookie? - ears perk, big grin I give them cookies

"Do you wanna…go to bed? - ears perk at go, sink at bed

"Do you wanna…go for a…walk? - at walk, dogs go berserk(same with ride)

Let’s see, Hockey knows:

Sit (though she rarely complies)
Get! (away from my food)
Go lay down.
Scooch Pooch
screwball (a nickname)
wanna (as in, you wanna go…)
car ride
get the kitty
she’ll respond with attention growling to a certain intake of breath
she knows when the audio reciever turns off that it’s time for bed.

And, she knows the ultimate punishment: GO TO DAD’S ROOM. That means she has been very very bad indeed, and isn’t to come and see us for several minutes. Usually only used when she has stolen something off a plate.

None. She’s dead. :eek:

Well, if you consider past tense…

Down (lay down)
Hugs (an invitation to get in my face and give me kisses)
Off (I’m done getting kisses)
Right here [with a point to my chin] (an invite for a fast smooch)
Gimme some ugly more kiss commands (she was a Boxer)
Cheese the dog (medicine time, involves globs of cheez whiz)
Go poop?
Smitty’s (her favorite drive-in)
Easy (slow down when eating from the hand)
Get the bunny (permission to chase an animal in the yard)
Stop (quit whatever she was doing)
Go to bed ( time to lay down in her crate. Even in advanced age when crating wasn’t necssary, we’d tell that to another dog, and Sadie would be there first to get the crate treats.)
Sadievate? asking her if she wanted on the bed; the Sadie elevator. In her old age, her arthritis got so bad that she couldn’t do it herself. It was followed by
Assume the Position Stand still so I can lift you up
Snapping my fingers meant heel
A finger pointed somewhere meant there was something she’d like at the end of the point, usually food, sometimes a toy

Reading all the posts has been very enjoyable! :slight_smile: Some posts made me laugh out loud, they were so funny!

Sidebar: Our dogs’ ability to comprehend emotions too: Sadness, anger/happiness (easy ones), and sickness. Additionally, I remember when our son was an infant, up to 3wks after birth when he cried our dogs would race up/down the stairs to where baby was sleeping in his bassinet, they’d try to peek inside but pomeranians are too small so they couldn’t, but they’d sniff 3-4 times while baby was crying, it seemed to me that they were trying to decipher whether the baby was OK or truly distressed/hurt, and once they were done sniffing, they’d walk away looking reassured. Does this make any sense to you all??? :slight_smile:

My current dog, Zim, is probably the smartest dog I’ve ever had. His list includes:

[li]Sit[/li][li]Stay[/li][li]Shake (will offer a paw)[/li][li]High Five (will sit up and slap your raised hand with his paw)[/li][li]Go for a ride?[/li][li]Get in the truck[/li][li]Get in the house[/li][li]Back seat! (He likes to ride in the front seat of the car with his head sticking out the sun roof, but will hop in the back seat on command.[/li][li]Gimme that (point at what you want - no matter what it is - he’ll pick it up and bring it to you. Very handy for after he’s had a treat off a paper plate, because he picks up after himself.)[/li][li]Go to bed.[/li][li]Cookie[/li][li]Wanna go out?[/li][li]Go walkies?[/li][li]Get the chicken! (When any of my chickens get out of their henyard, I point and tell the dog to Get the chicken! and he herds the hen back to the yard.)[/li][li]Go lay down / Lay down[/li][li]Get in the box [/li][li]C’mon[/li][li]Okay (as a release from a “lay down” or “stay” command.)[/li][li]Get off[/li][/ul]

In addition, he knows the difference between his toys. He has a plush squeaky hedgehog named Norman (after Spiny Norman on Monty Python) and a rope-bone toy we call “Grrrr” (because he growls when playing tug of war.) Ask him for one or the other - “Get Grrrr!” or “Get Norman!” - and he will find and bring the correct toy.

He also craps on command, very useful when getting ready to go for a ride. When he was a pup, it would take him forever to take a dump because every time he’d get ready to squat, something would catch his eye and he’d have to investigate. So to hurry him along, I would give his leash a little snap and tell him, “Focus!” (as in, get your mind back to the business at hand.) Now, when I bring him outside and want him to just get done with it, I unhook the leash and say, “Focus!” and he goes off and takes his crap.

He answers to his name as well as to a variety of nicknames, such as “Dog,” “Pup,” “Puppy”, “Bud,” “Buddy,” and “C’mere you.”

Our dogs had the usual vocab except for two. Whizzer knew the word ‘beer’ and would get ready for when my dad would pour a little bit for him. Lady knew ‘where’s your chicken?’ because she had an actual live chicken as a pet. She had it trained to lie down and put out it’s neck so she could carry it around a bit. It was hilarious to watch because the chicken was nearly as big as Lady and she was so proud to show us her chicken carrying skills.

May I include my cats since I am sans pooch right now? I’ll take that as a yes. My cats understand:
*Drink your water * Drinking from their sink requires my permission for some reason
Get down! They don’t boogie, they get their butts on the floor where they belong
Goodbye This one is odd. They know that when the little man in the computer says ‘goodbye’ I’m leaving the room and so they need to get ready to follow me.
Get your toys This means to go get a toy from the basket where they keep the toys. That’s right, they put their toys away. Sometimes.

One of my cats fetches and can catch her little tinfoil ball on the fly sometimes.

<snerk> Whizzer? Beer? How ironic… <snerk>