Romeo is a 4-month Pomeranian. We were delighted to be called to train this fluffy bundle of personality! His family wanted Romeo to be multi-lingual: he needed to learn his puppy basics in a household of three spoken languages from five different caregivers!
Hand Signals are the Universal Language
Dogs have an amazing ability to associate meaning or connections with any number of sounds, tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. So, when teaching commands, we always use a hand signal before introducing the actual word. The same thing goes for a multi-lingual household; hand signals serve as the universal language for the dog.
For example, Romeo may know how to do a reliable sit with the English word “Sit”, but if he is told in Spanish, “Sientate” he may not know what is expected. Using a consistent hand signal after each command word will help Romeo understand and eventually learn what is being asked of him, regardless of the language spoken.
The Multi-lingual Dog
We recommended that Romeo’s owners develop a universal vocabulary list for Romeo. The list should contain each command in each language along with a “picture” of the hand signal for that command. We suggested the list be posted for everyone in the family to see and reference. This level of consistency will help Romeo learn the same behavior in a variety of languages. A multi-lingual dog; now that’s a Zen Dog!
For more information on teaching commands and other dog training topics, please visit us at zendogtraining.net to view our extensive library of video tutorials.