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Imagine that you are getting ready to grow your family. You decide to add a dog to the mix, and two days after bringing your new dog home you receive news that you have been approved for adoption and the five-year-old girl from Japan that you have been waiting for will be able to join your family in just two months. You both cry tears of joy and get to work, getting ready for your daughter.
The day that you bring your daughter home for the first time, everyone is very emotional and tired after all of the legal processes and long flights. You are so relieved and so full of joy to be home with her though. Your little girl does not speak English yet and you try hard to communicate with her and to make her feel at home. When you show her to her bedroom she is greeted by your dog. She reaches down to pet the dog and speaks to him in Japanese, then to her utter delight and surprise the dog responds to her words by sitting down. She gives the dog a couple of other commands and watches with joy as he responds to those as well, instantly making her feel understood and more at home. The night that you found out that you would be bringing her home you both decided to train the dog in Japanese instead of English, and you are so thankful now that you did.
There are many wonderful reasons to teach a dog to respond to Japanese commands. Perhaps someone you love speaks Japanese and you wish to train the dog for his sake. Perhaps you speak Japanese so you would like for your buddy to understand Japanese. Perhaps you will be moving to Japan with your dog. Perhaps you just like the Japanese language and prefer that your dog responds to Japanese commands instead of commands in another language, or perhaps you would like for your dog not to respond to anyone other than yourself. Whatever the reason is, you can learn how to teach him what he needs to know.
Teaching your dog Japanese commands is very similar to teaching him commands in any other language. The only part that makes it harder is the extra work involved for you to learn Japanese yourself if you do not already speak the language.
Which method will work best for you will depend mostly on what your dog already knows. If your dog has already been taught commands in another language, then the 'Command Replacement' method will probably be the easiest method to use to teach him. If your dog already knows hand signals, with or without commands in a language other than Japanese, then the 'Hand Signal' method should work best. If your dog has never been taught the behavior that you would like to train or if you would simply like to start from scratch either way, then the 'New Command' method will be the best method for you to use.
If you are using the 'New Command' method, then you will need a resource for teaching specific commands, that is written or spoken in a language that you understand. Wag! Walking's Training Resources Page is one such resource. It includes articles, such as this one, with instructions for training certain commands, with several different methods to choose from in each article. These articles can be used to teach the specific commands that you choose to teach, and then adapted for the Japanese commands by following the steps in the 'New Command' method.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats and a resource for learning Japanese words if you do not already speak Japanese. You will also need a calm location, and depending on which command you are teaching, possibly certain tools such as a leash or a treat pouch, props such as a tunnel, an assistant, another dog, or another certain type of location. If you are using the 'Hand Signal' method then your dog will need to already know a hand signal for the behavior that you wish to teach a Japanese command for. If you are using the 'Command Replacement' method, then Fido will need to know the command that you wish to teach in Japanese in another language already. If you are using the 'New Command' method, then you will need a resource with instructions and methods for teaching the command that you wish to teach in Japanese, written or spoken in a language that you can understand. For all of the methods, you will need patience, consistency, and a willingness to enjoy your dog and training him.
The Hand Signal Method
Learn a Japanese word
To begin, choose a command that your dog already knows a hand signal for, such as staying when you hold out your hand. Next, learn the Japanese word for that command, grab lots of small, easy to eat treats that your pup loves, and go to a calm location with him
Combine the commands
Next, give Fido the hand signal that he already knows and say the Japanese word at the same time. Praise and reward him when he obeys your command.
Repeat giving your buddy the hand signal and Japanese command at least thirty times. Praise and reward him each time that he obeys.
Say the word first
After thirty repetitions of the hand signal with the Japanese command, tell your pup the Japanese command and then wait three seconds before giving him the hand signal also. Repeat this until he will obey your command before you give him the hand signal also.
When your buddy will obey your Japanese command before you tell him the hand signal, then practice the command until he can do it consistently. While you are practicing, gradually wait longer and longer before giving him the hand signal after you tell him the Japanese command. Do this until he no longer needs the hand signal at all, and he will consistently obey your verbal command without it.
Add another command
Once your pup has mastered that command then choose another Japanese command to teach him, and before you know it he will be well trained to respond to Japanese commands!
The Command Replacement Method
To begin, choose a command that your dog already knows in a language other than Japanese. Next, learn the Japanese word for that same command, and then grab lots of treats that your pup likes and go to a calm location with your dog.
Give both commands
When you are ready to start, then tell your pup the Japanese word followed immediately by the command that he already knows in another language.
As soon as your buddy obeys your commands, then praise him and give him a treat.
Repeat telling him the Japanese command followed by the command that he already knows, at least thirty times over the course of several days or weeks. Continue to reward him whenever he obeys your commands.
Space the commands out
After you have practiced the commands together at least thirty times, gradually space the Japanese command and the other command out. To do this, tell your pup the Japanese command and then wait three seconds before telling him the other command. Praise him and reward him when he obeys.
Add more time
Practice the commands together but spaced out until your pup will obey the Japanese command before you have given him the other command also. When this happens, then gradually space the commands out even more, until there are seven seconds between the commands.
When your commands are spaced out seven seconds apart, then practice the Japanese command until your buddy no longer needs to be given the other command at all, but will consistently obey just the Japanese command. When that happens then he has learned the command. Great job! Now repeat the entire process over again with a different Japanese command in order to teach him something new.
The New Command Method
To begin, choose what behavior, such as staying, you would like to teach to your pup. Next, learn the Japanese word for that behavior.
Choose a method
After you have chosen what you would like to teach, then choose how you would like to teach it. To choose how you would like to teach it, find a method that you like, that has instructions for how to teach your dog the behavior that you chose. Make sure that the instructions are in a language that you can understand, such as English. The method does not need to be in Japanese.
When you have chosen your method, then gather your supplies. Your supplies might include: treats, tools like a leash or a collar or a treat bag, props like hurdles or tunnels, and possibly an assistant or a certain type of location. Follow the instructions in your chosen method to decide which supplies to gather.
Substitute the word
Follow the steps to your method, but when you come to a step that instructs you to tell your dog a command in a language other than Japanese, replace that command with the Japanese word for that same command, and then praise and reward your dog for obeying the Japanese word, like the method instructs you to.
Whenever the method instructs you to give your dog a command, always give him your Japanese command instead.
Work on consistency
Follow the rest of the steps for that method, using your Japanese word in place of the command in the other language. Do this until your pup can consistently respond to your Japanese command when you simply tell him the Japanese command.
Teach an additional command
When your buddy has masted the first Japanese command, then teach him another command in Japanese by using the steps in this method again.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 05/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021