Misty Learns a New Language

Misty became a solid part of our family quickly.  After those first weeks of tying to the couch she realized that this was permanent.  She wasn’t going back to that cement and steel home at the shelter.  If a dog can be thankful, (which I believe they can, and are) Misty was thankful.  She became my full-time companion.  If I had to leave her for an extended period, like for work, so I could earn money to buy her doggy treats.  My kids told me that Misty would become obviously depressed.  They couldn’t get her to do anything.  She’d lay on the chair waiting for me to come home.

When I wasn’t working, we were inseparable. She is very willing to please me, aren’t almost all dogs like that?  Every dog I’ve met always appeared to want to please their human parent.

Since we were together so much we would encounter people often, or be within the presence of people.  I didn’t want anyone else to influence her, or be able to command her in contrast to what I was commanding her.  Do you know what I mean? I have the three other Chihuahua’s that I’ve learned a few things from.  One Chihuahua, when the top is down on my convertible, will sit on the folded up lid.  It’s the highest point on the car, so it’s her best vantage point to see where I’ve gone.  She will not jump down, or leave the car, for anything. She likes the car.  I have treats in the glove compartment and her snugly blanket on the seat.  She’s not leaving those items for anyone! Yet, when I finished whatever it was that I had to do, walking back to my car, I’ve caught people trying to call her out of the car, or I should say, off of the car.  They’ll be whistling, or saying, “Come on.” “Come here.” to her. She just sits there staring at them because she’s not stupid, they don’t have a biscuit, or her blanket, in their hand, so she’s not going anywhere! You may think, kids would do that.  But no, it’s been adults. Full grown, adults.  Men, women, doesn’t matter, adults.  “Why?” I would ask.  “Why would you call my dog like that?”  “What would you do if she responded and broke her leg jumping down?”  The usual answer; a shrug, a smirk on their face, and they walk away.

Since then I’ve taught that Chihuahua to stay no matter what, even if I have her blanket and biscuits, she won’t get out.  Now-a-days, she’s also older and doesn’t pay attention to passers-by.  I wanted to instill this behavior into Misty. I didn’t want anyone to be able to walk up and get her to leave my car. Here’s how I did it, so you can too.  This will be a two-part blog so it doesn’t get too lengthy.  Besides the first step will take a few days to work on anyways.  So here’s what I did with Misty first:

The absolute first thing you need to do is choose another language to speak to your dog in. You don’t need to learn the entire language, you’re just looking for the translation of commands like sit, come, stay, heel. Pick something abstract, something not everyone is going to know.  Spanish is too common, so is Chinese.  If you go to translate.google.com  there are over 100 languages to choose from in the drop-down menu.  One of the translations sounded too close to the English form of the command, so I turned the command into a phrase, which just happened to be a one word command in my chosen language so it worked out well.

If your dog, like most dogs in America, was taught in English, don’t worry. You will be surprised how quickly your dog will learn the new language for a command.

For me, I wrote the commands I wanted her to know on my hand.  That way if I forgot a word I could simply glance at my hand.  When you start using your new language, you will need to prompt your dog with the English version followed by the translated version right away.  So, if you chose Spanish (Remember, don’t choose Spanish it’s too common) as your dog command language, when you want your dog to sit, you say, “Sit, sentarse.”  Use the two words in conjunction for a few days, then drop the English sit and only say, “Sentarse”.  You will probably be surprised to see him/her sit upon this new word.  From then on, use, “Sentarse” for sit every time.

There were several commands I chose to translate to a different language for her.  I’ve listed them in the order I taught her, and that is in the order, I felt, of their importance:  Stay, Come and Heel (I use the phrase “Walk with me” translated).  I won’t say what language I chose because that would defeat the purpose, right?  You don’t want to share your chosen translation language either.

Translating your dog commands alleviates problems like adults calling your dog out of the car!  The dog doesn’t know what they are saying.

You won’t have conflicting orders told to the dog.  Someone says come here when you’re telling the dog to sit.

You won’t have your dog run off at the dog park when someone hollers, “Come on Fido, let’s go!” (I’ve had that one happen before as well).

And it’s fun learning the new commands.  Never, never, never, hit your dog when he/she misunderstands.  They want to please you, let them learn how to do that with your patients.

The next part we’ll talk about encouraging them to stay in the car (even when you walk away)!

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