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Imagine bringing home an adorable Shih Tzu puppy. He is so cute that he can get away with almost anything. Your family loves him and spoils him rotten. By the time that he turns six months old you realize that his behavior and manners are not cute anymore. It is becoming harder to laugh off his barking, destructiveness, and not listening. It is time to train him! Most of your family is very helpful with the training, and your pup learns to listen to almost everyone in the family fairly quickly, but your sweet, soft-spoken seven year old daughter gets zero respect from him. When she speaks to him, her commands sound like questions and not instructions. She sounds timid rather than confident, and he completely ignores her sweet, polite voice. You have not gone very far in his training yet and you decide to switch the language that you are training him in from English to German. Within a week your pup is listening to your daughter's German commands better. She no longer sounds like she is timidly requesting for him to do something; instead she sounds confident, commanding, and sure of herself, and based on his response to her he has obviously taken notice.
There are many great reasons to teach your Shih Tzu German commands. Perhaps your native language is German so you would like to communicate with your dog in German. Perhaps you are moving to Germany in the future. Perhaps you would like to participate in Canine Sports or clubs that use primarily German commands. Maybe you just like the sound of the German language, or maybe you appreciate the forceful, concise nature of the German language and you feel like you would sound more confident speaking German while you train your dog. Whatever the reason, teaching your pup commands in German is no different for your puppy than teaching him commands in any other language.
Because your pup is still learning what commands and words mean, teaching your pup German commands should be just as easy as teaching him commands in any other language. The primary difference is your own familiarity with the German language, and the extra step of learning the German words that you intend to teach yourself, unless you already speak German.
Which method will work best for your pup will depend on his and your personalities and preferences. If your pup is highly food motivated or sensitive, then 'The Lure Method' will probably work best. If your pup tends to do the behavior that you would like to turn into a command on his own often, then 'The Capture Method' would work well. It will work especially well if that behavior is something that is hard for you to get him to do at other times, such as yawning or licking his lips. If your pup is not very food or toy motivated or he only tends to do a command when you are holding a treat for him to see, then "The Position Method" might work best.
If your pup is not very footd motivated but is toy motivated, then you can also substitute the treats for your pup's favorite toys, and reward him with a quick game with the toy rather than with a treat.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats that your pup loves, something to place them into to keep them with you, such as a treat pouch or a small Ziploc bag and a pocket, and a calm location. You will also need a resource for German words if you do not speak German already. If you are using 'The Capture Method' then you will need patience and attentiveness as well. If you are using 'The Pressure Method' then your pup will need to be comfortable with being handled and touched, and you will need gentleness and good handling skills. For all of the training, you will need consistency, good timing, and a positive attitude.
The Capture Method
Get set up
To begin, choose which command you would like to teach Fido and learn the German word for that command. Next, grab some small, tasty treats and something to put them into to keep them with you, such as a treat pouch or a small Ziploc bag that can be placed into your pocket.
Next, over the next several days and weeks, watch your pup carefully to see if he does the behavior that you are teaching the command for. For example, if you are teaching your buddy how to lie down in response to the German command "Platz", then pay attention every time that he lies down.
As soon as you see your puppy begin to do the behavior that you are teaching, then tell him the German word for that behavior, go over to him, and as soon as he completes that behavior, praise him and give him a treat. For example, if you are teaching him how to lie down when you say "Platz", then when you see him begin to lie down tell him "platz", go over to him, and when his chest touches the floor, praise him and give him a treat.
Repeat capturing your pup doing the behavior that you are teaching a command for at least thirty times. After thirty times, test whether or not he has learned the behavior by calling him over to you and telling him the German command for that behavior. After you tell him the command then wait ten seconds to see if he will do the behavior and if he does, give him a treat. Repeat this up to seven times, until he does the behavior.
If your pup does not do the behavior when you tell him the German command any of the seven times, then practice capturing him doing it on his own for longer. After you have caught and rewarded him for doing the behavior on his own at least ten more times, then call him over and tell him the German command up to seven times again, waiting ten seconds in-between each command to see if he will do the behavior. Repeat the process of capturing him doing the behavior on his own and then periodically testing whether or not he knows the German word until he will do the behavior when you give him the German command.
Practices makes perfect
When Fido will do the behavior when you tell him the German command, then practice the command until he can do it consistently. Continue to catch him doing the behavior on his own as well, until he can do the behavior in response to your German command consistently.
Teach another command!
When your buddy has mastered the first German command, then choose another German command and teach that one to him as well using the steps included in this method.
The Lure Method
Choose a command
To begin, grab some small treats that smell good to your pup, choose a German command that you would like to teach and learn the German word for that command. For example, the German word for "Sit" is "Sitz", the German word for "Down" is "Platz", the German word for "Come" is "Hier", and the German word for "Stay" is "Bleib".
Lure with a treat
Once you have chosen what command you would like to teach, then teach your pup the meaning of that command. To teach him the meaning of the command, tell him the German word for that command, then use a treat to encourage him to do the behavior or to move into the position that you are teaching him. When he moves into the correct position or does the correct behavior then immediately praise him and reward him with a treat. For example, if you are teaching your pup to sit in response to the German word "Sitz", then stand in front of him, tell him to "Sitz", then slowly move a treat from his nose toward the back of his head, so that he looks up to follow the treat. As soon as he sits down in order to follow the treat, then praise him and reward him by giving him the treat.
When your pup will do the behavior or move into the position for the command that you are teaching him, then repeat luring him into the position or into doing the behavior with a treat. Do this until he will do it whenever you tell him the German command, before you lure him into the position or into doing the behavior with a treat.
When your buddy will do the command when you tell him to, before you lure him into doing it with a treat, then practice that command until he can do it consistently.
Start a new command
When Buddy has mastered his first German command, then choose another German command to teach him, and start this method over again with the new command, and enjoy training your pup!
The Position Method
Get set up
To begin, choose which command you would like to teach your dog first and then learn the German word for that command. Grab lots of tasty treats and something to put them into, like a treat pouch or a small Ziploc bag, and then go somewhere calm with your pup.
Give the command
When you are all set up in your calm location with your treats and your puppy, then gently show him how to do the behavior or move into the position that you are training. To show him, tell him the German word for the command and then gently apply pressure or moving his body into the position. If you are applying pressure, do not force him into the position, simply apply a bit of pressure, and then wait until he moves into the position on his own, to get away from the sense of pressure.
As soon as your pup does the behavior that you are teaching with your help, immediately praise him, let go of him, and give him a treat.
Repeat showing Fido how to do the command by telling him the German command and then gently moving him into the position or applying pressure until he moves into the position on his own. Do this until he will move into the position or do the behavior that you are training when you tell him the German command, before you touch him.
When your pup will do the behavior or move into the position that you are training when you tell him the German command, before you touch him, then practice it until he will do it consistently. If he needs a hint while you are practicing it, then show him how to do it again, and then after he does it with your help, go back to simply telling him the German command word again. When your pup has mastered that command in the calm location, then practice it in the presence of distractions until he can do it around distractions too.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 05/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021