Command Dictionary

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2dogpack
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Command Dictionary

Postby 2dogpack » Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:59 am

in THE OTHER END OF THE LEASH, McConnell suggests writing down a command dictionary. Make a table with two columns. In column A, write down the command (Sit, Stay, Down, etc.) and in the second column EXACTLY what behavior you expect your dog to perform. Be specific: Writing down Sit for the command SIT isn't good enough. She's looking for "Puts butt on floor with front legs still in a vertical position."

It's informative.

It's also occurred to me that I use the word COME when Ronan in in the back yard running around, and I also use it when we are on walks and I want him to stop sniffing and continue our walk. I can understand where that might be confusing as dogs don't understand context. I'm also inconsistent. For example: I say YES! or GOOD! when he does what I expect. Sometimes, it's even YES! GOOD BOY! or GOOD SIT! when he's already sitting. :nono: I never realized this before, dogs must think living with humans is like living in an insane asylum. :eek2:

Have any of you done this before? What did you find?

Also:

1. I use the word OKAY! to release Ronan from a command or task. Do you use OKAY, FREE, or something else?
2. I usually say, YES! or GOOD! when he does something correct. Thoughts? What do you use?

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SherriA
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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby SherriA » Fri Sep 26, 2014 8:55 am

I haven't done this but I like the idea. Henry's dog walker is happy to work with Henry on anything I'm working on with him, so it will be good to have well defined criteria.

We really must be so confusing from a dog's perspective! When I let Henry go, I usually say "OK!" but I use that word a lot so I'm sure it's confusing. When he performs a command correctly I usually say "Good boy!", but I also say that a lot just because he really is a good boy :) More confusion! This is part of the reason I'm thinking that a clicker will really help me communicate more clearly with him.
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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby 2dogpack » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:13 am

We must appear totally insane and inconsistent with them. I also tell Ronan he's a Good boy 'just because.'

This exercise has me rethinking commands. I'll also use a clicker to get Ronan up to speed quickly, then probably drop the clicker as I won't always have one with me. Unless I want to make a 'clicking' sound with my tongue against the roof of my mouth, LOL!

And then there's switching over to new commands from those confusing ones. Do I say the old command and then the new one? Just forget the old and click on the new? Poor Ronan.

You bring up a point about words they hear us say when we're NOT talking to them or giving them a directive. I guess that's why some people speak Dutch or German, but then you'd have to hand the list to family members, vets, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers...

Okay, now I'M confused! This exercise is going to take longer and more thought than I originally anticipated!

ETA: I'm mulling over the word CLICK! to use while I'm also using the clicker. Do them both at the same time. Then, if I don't have the clicker, CLICK! might work. It's not likely that I'll ever tell Ronan he's a CLICK! boy. Of course, there's still GOOD! and just leave it at that and stop overthinking this unti my brain explodes.

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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby Jen » Fri Sep 26, 2014 12:13 pm

It's a great idea. I did it for a few cues but was too lazy to be really diligent with it. I'm starting to do it with my students too because I'm "clicker training" them, and I noticed I was being inconsistent with my click criteria.

For release, I use "free" in a particular tone of voice.

I use "yes!" for the verbal click. I also use a made up word that's sort of sounds like "herego" really fast. It's a very fast mumbling of "here you go" as I hand out a treat. I didn't know I was doing it until I noticed Bella would whip around to look for a treat if I said it. I mostly use that on walks when I am rewarding her for my reacting.

DH and I say "click" to each other when we like what the other has done. :p I got clicked for changing the TP roll the other day (something I almost never do). lol

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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby Sabine » Fri Sep 26, 2014 12:52 pm

I think dogs are better at discerning meaning than we give them credit for. Words are important, but the tone of voice we use makes a difference too. Just like so many other people I use "ok" as a release word and always get annoyed with myself when I use it in other context, but a flat, unexciting ok during a regular conversation (yes I have conversations with my dog. ALL THE TIME! lol )is very different from my "OOOOoh-kaYYYYYY" release.

"Good boy" was a really, really big deal for Quigley. I used it as praise during training etc., and anytime I was just loving on him, and after a couple years or so I noticed how his eyes just lit up and his face had this expression of understanding "yes, that is ME, the GOOD boy!". It was one of the most powerful things I could tell him and made him so, so happy. I'm very glad that he had this understanding, because when he was in my lap in the back seat of the Jeep the day we sent him to the bridge, those were the last words he heard, and I do think he went to sleep feeling happy.
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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby connie » Sat Sep 27, 2014 11:21 am

I think the exercise is more about being clear and consistent in what you expect from a dog in response to a particular command. If a "sit" is met with the dog rocking back on his butt and then popping up again, and that's rewarded, then there will be no actual SIT offered when the owner requests a "sit."

I see this all the time in agility with people who don't or won't teach start-line stays to their dogs. They sit the dog and walk to a lead-out and tell the dog to "stay"; the dog gets up and starts to the first obstacle and the handler begins the course run. Let's imagine what "stay" means to that dog, eh? Pretty much "when I get X feet away from you, start your course, and I'll try to keep up with you and direct you."

I don't think McConnell means you can't use the same word for different things. As Sabine said, dogs are masters of nuance and can infer everything they need to know from inflection, emotion, and body language, no matter what the word is. In fact, going to agility again, some of the best runs ever turned in have been silent runs: the dog was cued only with the handler's body language, and ran a lot better than when the handler jibber-jabbered his/her way through the course. Which shows me that dogs don't depend on our words, else all those dogs would still be sitting at the start lines of the courses, and hesitating at the obstacle discrimination points on the course. :whistle:

More powerful than any word of praise, IMO, is an eye-to-eye look and a chest skritch for the dog. The affection and esteem is communicated without words.

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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby Calypso » Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:37 am

If you're teaching a new cue, even for an established behavior, you want to give the new cue, pause a bit, then the old cue. This pairs the two cues and pretty soon the dog will start to anticipate the second cue after he hears the first one. (Assuming your reward is good enough to want to get it ASAP.)

As far as clicker vs saying CLICK, I'd teach them separately. Charge the clicker with the click-treat-click-treat-click-treat, etc., then easy stuff like "sit"-butt hits floor-click-treat. Then do the same with saying CLICK or whatever your marker word is. I'm supposed to use "Good!" when I'm teaching class, but I've used "Yes!" for so long, it's hard to switch. And I personally find "good!" to be more awkward to get out than "yes!", but that's another story. So my dogs know clicker and verbal marker, but they definitely catch on faster with the clicker.

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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby 2dogpack » Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:17 am

Excellent. Thank you guys.

I decided that I'm staying with "Okay!" for release and "Good!" with the occasional "Yes!" in there. He's always known these and during a time while he's grieving for Tasha probably isn't the best time to switch him over. Right now, I'm keeping him (and me) as busy as possible. He misses her. He looks for her. He stands in the kitchen where she used to lie in front of the vent and cries now and then. He continues to stop and look behind him to see where she and hubby are at, just like he did when she was here. Worse, when he doesn't see her, he stops completely and almost frantically looks around the street for her.

So normal is good, I think. Busy is better. For both of us.

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Re: Command Dictionary

Postby whiteboxerboy » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:20 pm

this is one area i find training / working with a deaf dog significantly easier than with a hearing dog. seriously, there's no grey area. for either of us.

hand signals are the best!


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