According to some canine behavior researchers, dogs can learn more than 200 words. Your dog can learn more words apart from “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and other usual dog commands. By increasing your dog’s vocabulary, your dog can have a better understanding of what you want him to do. Here are some ways to increase your dog’s vocabulary.
- Keep your training tools handy. Dog trainers use different techniques and tools in teaching dogs behavior and tricks. Edible treats, chew toys, tennis balls, flying discs, leashes, collars and clickers are often used when training dog. Choose which items are most helpful in getting your dog to learn what you are teaching.
- Understand how a dog learns. Canines learn through repetition and positive reinforcement. They will repeat a behavior or an action if the consequences of doing such an act are positive. Proper timing is important when using treats as a form of positive reinforcement, whether the treats are edible or non-edible. The treat should be within your reach before you ask your dog to perform an action. Give the treat right after the dog does the behavior properly.
- Use words and phrases consistently. Make sure that for every action or behavior, you use only one specific word or phrase so as not to confuse your dog. If you want your dog to sit, never say “sit” one time and then “sit down” the next time. Keep in mind that the fewer words you use, the better. Don’t say, “sit down” or “take a seat” when you can simply say “sit.”
- Lessen your use of the word “no.” The word “no” should be used sparingly. If your dog hears it too often, it loses its power. Pretty soon, he may even think it is his name. Also, if you mean “no” then just say “no.” Don’t confuse him with the phrases “stop that” or “don’t do that.” Again, this will confuse your dog further. When saying “no,” never shout. Rather, use a controlled and even tone when saying “no.” Your dog will not learn anything if he is frightened.
- Say your dog’s name before each command. Because many of the command words and phrases are used by humans in regular conversations, your dog might not know that you are already giving him a command. Say your dog’s name before each command so he is sure that you are speaking to him.
- Train your dog often. Dog training should start while your dog is still a puppy. You should set up two or three 10 to 15 minute training session daily. As soon as your dog has mastered a particular command, move on to the next to increase his vocabulary. When giving a command, make sure your dog has your complete attention. There should be no distractions unless they are part of the training session.
- Talk to your dog. Talking to your dog does not necessarily increase his vocabulary. However, it strengthens the bond between the two of you. Spend quiet quality time together and have a conversation.
- Christen your dog’s toys. Name each of your dog’s toys. This way each time you give him one toy to play with, you can reinforce the chew toy’s name and he adds a word to his vocabulary.
Although dogs don’t speak human, they have the ability to learn quite a few human words. If your dog knows at least 10 words now, you can still improve his vocabulary. With patience, consistency and lots of training, your dog can surely learn more words in due time.