If you’ve read Woof Report’s tip about Chaser the Border Collie who is able to identify 1,022 objects by name, you already know that dogs can learn hundreds of words. Your dog likely knows quite a few – his or her name, Sit, Come, Stay, Down, Shake, Fetch, No, Off, Drop It, the all-important Cookie (or maybe it’s Biscuit or Treat in your home), and many more.
If you’d like to teach your dog more words, specifically how to identify objects by name (and perhaps take a shot at beating Chaser’s record), keep reading. It’s actually quite easy to do! And teaching your dog new skills won’t just teach him to bring you the remote or find your lost car keys, it will also provide him with mental stimulation and strengthen the bond you share.
Thanks to the easy instructions below from Kyra Sundance, trainer, world-class stunt dog performer and author of Woof Report favorite 101 Dogs Tricks, your dog can learn to identify dozens of objects by name.
Here’s how you teach it:
VERBAL CUE: “Find (object name)”
PREREQUISITES: ‘Fetch’ is helpful
- Start with a fun object whose name is already familiar to your dog, such as a bumper or tennis ball. Lay it in a clear area alongside two other non-enticing objects, such as a hammer and hairbrush.
- Point toward the objects and tell your dog to “find (object name).” Praise him the moment he grabs the correct object. Use your fetch command to encourage him to bring it to you. When he brings you the object, reward him with a treat rather than by playing with the toy, as the latter would encourage him to select only toys from the pile of objects.
- Add a second familiar object to the set, one whose name is known to your dog. Alternate asking your dog to find each of the two familiar objects. If he chooses incorrectly, don’t scold him; instead do not acknowledge it one way or the other. Keep telling him to “find (object name).” Add a new item when your dog is good at correctly picking the item you’ve asked for several times in a row.
What to Expect: This fun game really keeps your dog thinking. Practice with different toys and in different locations. Dogs learn the same way we do, by repetition, so keep practicing! Use object names frequently with your dog because he or she can learn hundreds of words – just like Chaser.
Troubleshooting: My dog is so excited, he grabs the first object he sees. Hold your dog for ten seconds as you the words sink in. Repeat the object name several times and let him focus on the object from afar.
See the past trick we featured from 101 Dog Tricks – “Teach Your Dog to Give Kisses.” The kisses can also be ‘nose taps,’ and it’s an adorable trick!
Kyra’s easy-to-follow guide with full-color photos of each trick and its training steps: 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog, by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy.
Many thanks to Kyra Sundance for the trick instructions. Learn more about Kyra at the link below.
Thank you to cdixon on flickr for the photo of Grace.