How to Teach Your Dog English

Dogs learn the language of their owners.

Although dogs bark in the same language, teaching them to understand the language of your verbal commands is essential to developing a relationship with your pet. If, for instance, you are an English-speaking American and go to live in another country, you would have to retrain her to understand English to replace her first language. Similarly, if you have just adopted or bought a puppy, you have to train her to understand your English commands.

Be consistent. One of the major problems with dog owners is that they start out with great expectations, only to become frustrated and give up. Remember that you are the owner and, therefore, responsible for your dog and teaching it proper behavior.

Develop a training plan. Just as you didn’t learn to recognize English words in six months, neither will your dog. Figure out a reasonable English development plan – say responding to one command word a week – and build in frequent reviews.

Establish a reward system for your dog learning a new command. Pat your dog or give her a small treat when she demonstrates that she has learned a new English word by exhibiting the appropriate behavior.

Identify the English words you want your dog to understand. Write them down and tick them off as your pet adds them to her vocabulary. Make them monosyllabic to begin with ("sit") and then work up to short phrases ("lie down").

Use an association strategy. The reason most dogs learn the English word “sit” is because owners gently push their pets into a sitting position. Work out an association for other English words you want to teach your dog to make it easier for him to develop an English vocabulary.

Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.