Teacher’s Pet: Unleashing Your Dog’s Vocabulary

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Teacher’s Pet: Unleashing Your Dog’s Vocabulary

Instead of telling your third grade teacher Roscoe ate your homework, you should have just turned in that book report and tried to convince her Roscoe did your homework. Founder and creator of the Dognition Assessment, Dr. Brian Hare, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University believes our four-legged friends deserve more credit for their learning ability. He offers four tips for unleashing their vocabulary.

Start at the Beginning

Average pooches can learn up to 165 words and the smartest dogs, like Chaser, can master more than 1,000 words. If your dog's learning has stalled, go back to rewarding them for basics such as "sit" and "stay" again. These commands are building blocks for "heel" and "stop chewing on my new wallet."


Challenge Them

"With a few talented dogs, you can put an object they've never seen in a different room with other toys they already know," Dr. Hare says. "If you ask them to fetch a toy using a new word they've never heard, the smartest dogs infer what it means." That's great news for folks wondering if their pug can be taught to fetch a beer from the refrigerator.

Keep it Simple

You may love the tail wags you get when you talk baby talk to her, but if you want your dog to learn and react to words and not just respond to your tone of voice, use short, simple commands tied directly to an object or action. For example, instead of "Go get it", say "Ball."

Have Fun

"I've studied dogs for 20 years, and our most important findings didn't come from complicated experiments," Dr. Hare says. "They came from simple games we played to find out how they think." So follow Dr. Hare's example and head to the park. Smart dog pawrents use the LINK Smart Collar's Adventures to record where and when Fido finally figures out fetch.

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