Can dogs be bilingual?

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Lots of people with dogs here, so maybe someone can help me out... We want to adopt a dog and while I'd prefer a puppy, we found one thats 2-3 yrs old that we love, but I'm just wodnering if he'll be able to learn English commands? Also, what about his name...do we have to keep the name he has now..will it confuse him if we started calling him somethign else?

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Depends how smart the dog is! As long as the name isn't too radically different he should be fine. As for commands Sitzt and sit are similar enough to start with and if all else fails you can learn the German and use both commands at the same time until they understand both. A dog can pretty much learn anything given the right encouragement/treats - it might take a while. But it's doable.

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Why can't you learn German? It is not like the dog knows more than 20 words or so.

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We successfully trained our dog to be bilingual by using both commands at the same time during training. He then associated both commands with the task at hand, so we could use either one. But he was a pretty smart dog, too.

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Ok good to know thanks. And I do speak German, but since we pretty much talk English at home I figured it made most sense to use English with the dog aswell...

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you can change the name- it doesn't have to be close.

 

Yes, dogs can learn commands in various languages. If you think about they already are bilingual learning whatever human language you teach since that's not their native language.

Don't use both commands at the same time. Take the one it already knows and say it after. Say the unknown first pause a bit (count of 2-3) then use the known.

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My Jacks are quadralingual. They know English, German, Sign and Woof.

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ditto here (english, some german, woof, and 'sign' as in hand signals)

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I can understand the concerns about the name. If the name you have chosen is a simple one than I don't see a problem. I wanted to call my scotty Mr. MacGregor LOL, but seeing his shy nature, and his reaction when I first called him that, I stuck with his given name, Sunny.

As for languages, they learn pretty quickly, I wouldn't worry about that, and English and German words are very similar, as for the fun words, they will learn them fast, never told Sunny "Spazieren gehen", but after just one time telling him "go bye bye?", he learned it very fast.

My 2 babies speak German, French & English :lol:

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I wanted to call my scotty Mr. MacGregor LOL

Too funny! That is what my sister named their scotty...MacGregor.

 

An American friend of mine moved to Germany with her golden retriever and then trained her again in German (platz, sitz, etc). I don't think you'll have a problem.

 

My cat is bilingual too. However, 'RAUS!' and 'OUT!' probably sound a lot alike to a cat.

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Since our dog understood walk too well, we started to talk about taking the dog for a banana. Within a few weeks whenever he heard banana he got all excited and went to fetch his lead. Yes they can easily learn new words.

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When I was in my early teens we had a cairn terrier. He was crazy about polos (the mint, not the car).

 

Over time he could he learned how to spell the word backwards and forwards.

 

Of course he couldn't spell the word as such be he learned that the sounds p o l o and o l o p meant there were mints around.

 

He even perfected opening a womans handbag (zip, clasp...) to get at what was inside.

 

He even had a feeling for how many mints were in a packet. If the giver of the mints ate one and he didnt see he would sit there for ages, then jump up to find it. After sniffing the persons breath he would snort and run off.

 

If he saw the person eat the mint, after all were gone he just left.

 

Could never be sure if he could actualy count or not but as a test one day I ate teo mints, one he saw, the other he didnt. he jumped up to find the other mint.

 

If you take enough time your dog will learn what the new sounds mean, dogs are not stupid.

 

Some scientists put a dogs ability to understand at the same level as a small child (taken from tests on object recognition and retrieval).

 

Like children, when it comes to smoething they want to do or eat dogs learn very quickly.

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When my dog came to Germany, she picked up my husbands family's German commands straight away. Dogs don't so much always remember all the words that come with the commands, but also the actions and tones in which you say them. I often use hand signals with commands, so literally I don't have to say 'sit down' or 'give me paw' anymore-she just will if I use hand signals. Treats and patience help also! But if the dog is already previously trained even in German, it's not going to be a problem at all.

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Similarly, we have to avoid the chocolate word in all its forms, abbreviations and spellings.

But dogs have good taste as well as linguistic skills; Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Lindt and Suchard set the tail going like a fan on high speed; that Milka stuff just gets a disdainful sniff!

 

Our (presumably) German dog adopted us as a stray of about 6 or 7 months old. He studiously ignores commands in any language.

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I've had good results using either German or English commands with dogs. If they're semi-trained in either language, they tend to pick up the other language really fast.

 

When I get to Texas I'm going to get a dog from the shelter there. A young one, but not a pup. I will "re-train" the dog to only respond to commands in German even though my German wife will remain in Germany. I'm really looking forward to having a dog again for the first time in about 25 years.

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Similarly, we have to avoid the chocolate word in all its forms, abbreviations and spellings.

But dogs have good taste as well as linguistic skills; Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Lindt and Suchard set the tail going like a fan on high speed; that Milka stuff just gets a disdainful sniff!

Chocolate is a poison for dogs, I don't mean not healthy, it actually poisons them.

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