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People have many reasons for training their dogs to respond to commands in different languages. Some people who use dogs in their profession may want to use another language so the dog doesn't get distracted or confused. Others may have imported a dog from another country and simply want to continue using the language the dog is used to. Still, others may simply like the idea of teaching their dog in another language.
If you are looking to teach your dog commands in another language such as Italian, it should be an easy transition. Training your dog with Italian commands isn't much different than training in English, but it will take a little work, especially if she's used to listening for English words.
Teaching your dog Italian commands is a simple switch for most dogs because they learn by association. When you pair your new word with a command your dog already knows, she will quickly learn to understand the new command. It shouldn't take too long to teach all her commands in a second language. Soon you'll have a bi-lingual buddy.
If you are starting from scratch with a new puppy, you will teach her Italian commands the same way you would teach her in English. You might need to do a little studying beforehand if Italian isn't your first language to learn which terms you want to use as commands. If you take a little time and go step by step, teaching your dog Italian commands won't be too much harder than teaching her in English.
When you're ready to start teaching, make sure you let everyone interacting with your dog know you're teaching her some different commands and possibly give them a list. There are only a few other things you'll need to get ready.
- A list of commands in Italian
- A quiet place to learn
- Some delicious training treats
- Consistency, especially if you are re-teaching commands
Below you'll find a few different methods for teaching your dog Italian commands for any stage she might be in. Check them out and pick the one that will work best for you. With lots of consistency, your dog will be "fluent" in Italian and you'll have learned something new too.
The First Word Method
Train her first 'sit'
This method works for a new puppy who hasn't begun training yet, or an older dog who never had obedience training. Start your training for 'sit', and follow each step until you get to introducing the command. Replace "sit" with the Italian word "seduto."
Move on to 'down'
When she is sitting consistently with the Italian command "seduto," start training 'down'. This time use the command "guí."
Next train 'stay'
Work on training 'stay', but replace "stay" with "fermo." Make sure you are consistently working the other commands as you move on to the next.
Expand your skills
Continue training her with tricks and obedience commands, replacing the English words with Italian commands.
Keep a running list
Keep a running list of the Italian commands and what they mean in English. This way you'll never forget what you taught her, and you can share this list with others who might interact with her.
The Association Method
Find a quiet place
This method works for dogs who already know their commands. You'll need to find a place without distraction so she can concentrate.
Start with 'sit'
Call your dog over and use the Italian word for sit, which is "seduto". Immediately after, say "sit." Give her a treat when she sits.
After a few sessions, take away "sit" and just say "seduto." Give her a treat when she sits. If she looks confused and doesn't sit, go back a step.
Move on to the next command
When she has "seduto" down and is sitting, move on to other commands. Follow the same steps to teach her 'down' (guí), 'stay' (fermo), and any other commands you want.
Practice with distraction
Once she's learned these new commands in a quiet place, test her with more distractions.
Create a list
Once your dog is listening and responding to your commands, be sure you create a list of the commands for others who might also interact with your dogs.
The Advanced Method
Choose your words
This method is for people who don't want to teach all their commands in Italian but need the dog to know a few key commands. People in agility, for instance, might want to have different words than their competitors. You need to start with a list of commands you want to use for these particular actions.
Pick your spot
Now that you know what you want to train, pick a quiet place to start where you have room to move around.
Train the trick
If you are teaching a new trick or command, you'll need to start by training the movement first.
Add the Italian command
When your dog has the behavior down, introduce the Italian verbal cue. You don't need to teach the English version first.
If your dog already knows the trick or behavior in English, you're going to need to use association to retrain. First, say the Italian command, followed by the English command. When she performs the behavior give her a treat. Eventually, phase out the English word and only use the Italian.
Test with distractions
Once she's performing all the advanced tricks with the Italian commands, it's time to test her concentration. Take her to the agility park or a busy area and keep working the Italian commands. If she is listening and has learned the cues well, you're ready for the show ring. If not, go back and practice.
By Katie Smith
Published: 02/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021