Number of Commands
by Robin MacFarlane
What is the average vocabulary of a household pet?Have you heard about Chaser, the boarder collie, considered the world's smartest dog? Well, Chaser is certainly the dog with the largest vocabulary!
Her story has been around for a while, but I just came across it in recent months when I read the book by John Pilley. John is a retired psychologist who happens to own Chaser and has taught her over 1000 words. Not only the names of over 1000 toys, but she also understands verbs. John can combine the verbs and nouns and Chaser demonstrates a very clear ability to comprehend his sentences.
For instance, John can lay out a couple dozen toys in a pile and tell Chaser to Find, Paw, or Fetch a specific one. Chaser can perform reliably even when John is out of sight of the toy pile, which proves Chaser's ability to distinguish articles and actions independently of any possible signals or cues from him. She has proven she understands the actual words and the ability to understand multiple contexts by combining them with various verbs.
It is a very interesting book. Give it a read or take a look at the story Anderson Cooper did on Chaser.
The story got me wondering what the average vocabulary might be for a household pet? So I began jotting down a list of words that my guys seem to understand. While I have not exposed them to the same extensive testing process John went through with Chaser, I wrote down all the words and short phrases they appear to comprehend.
I came up with just over 100 words. Which actually was a rather humbling experience. Up until I read John's book, I actually thought I was a pretty decent trainer! 1000 plus words is pretty amazing. John admits to training Chaser up to 5 hours day, 5 days a week for three years. That in and of itself is amazing dedication.
It was in interesting process though. To actually take inventory of what my dogs have learned while living with me makes one really focus on the idea of what level of comprehension they are truly capable of.
My opinion of a dog's reasoning ability changed dramatically many years ago when my then Boxer, Maia, demonstrated something amazing. I had given her one of those toys that make odd noises when it moves. It was called a "giggle ball" or something like that. Some apparatus inside the toy emitted odd noises when it rotated off its axis. After pawing and playing with the toy for 10 minutes or so, she paused for 30 seconds with it in her mouth, trotted to the top of a flight of stairs and deliberately dropped it. She then stood there and watched with a delighted look on her face as it plopped from step to step making those crazy noises all the way down the staircase.
She bounded to the bottom of the stairs, picked it up and repeated the process about half a dozen times before getting bored with it and moving onto something else.
The experience forever altered my thinking about a dog's mind and what level of thinking they are capable of. There is more behind those eyes than many of us might have given credit for.
Dog people have known for a long time how intelligent our companions really are, but I'm thankful John Pilley set out to prove it.
Robin MacFarlane is a professional dog trainer and owner of Thatís My Dog in Dubuque, Iowa. Her best-selling dog training DVDs, JUST RIGHT and JUST RIGHT 2 have helped thousands of dog owners teach their dogs basic obedience and fix problem behaviors through a system of training that you can easily work into your daily routine.
FREE or only a penny with the following collars:
Delta XC, Delta SPORT XC
Dogtra IQ Plus
and several more...
Here's Why You Should Train Your DogDoes Your Dog Know her Place?Teaching a Recall? Start Slow and Make the Dog SuccessfulTeaching the Down CommandHouse Manners"Pay Me!"How to Strengthen Your Dog's Understanding of "Stay"How Long Does My Dog have to Wear the E-Collar?Consistency Without an E-collarSkills Every Puppy Should LearnDogs and Doorbells -- Oh My!Stop Your Dog from Bolting to the Door!Use Food Lures to Shape Your Puppies Introduction to Sit, Stand and DownPuppy Training 101: Play Biting ProblemTeaching Your Puppy to "Kennel Up"Dog Tricks: How to Teach Your Dog to Walk BackwardsWant a Standing Ovation? Teach Your Dog to "Take A Bow!"Want Your Dog to Come to You? Try Moving Away from Him."Catch me if you can!"Tired of Fido Stealing Your Snacks?E-Collar, Leash, Treats, Toy, and the Dog. How to Manage it All!Dog Tricks: Teaching Your Dog to DanceBefore You Expect a Dog to Stay on a Place, Teach Him to get on Willingly.Adding E-Collar Prompting to your Place CommandImpulse Control Games are a Time Well Spent Playing with your Dog!Juggling All Your Training Equipment?
Watch Ecollar Training VideosProper Fit of E-CollarIs Your Dog Collar Wise?"How long does my dog have to wear the collar?"Pressure NecrosisUsing Treats in TrainingCan I Use an E-Collar on My Small Dog?I Need a Shock Collar!Dog Training: Keeping it Real: Training Your Dog Should be EasyWhy Would I Want to Use an E-Collar on My Dog?A Tired Dog is a Good DogThree Things You Must Know to Have a Reliably Trained DogAre Remote Collars Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, or Motivators?The Best Way to Rescue a DogIt is More than Just Pushing a Button: Part OneWhat About the Leash?Tennis Ball, Tug or Cookie? What do Rewards Have to do with Good Training?The More Important Tool: Part 4 of "It Is More Than Just Pushing a Button."Do You Need Impeccable Timing in Order to Use a Remote Collar?What Does Your Dog's Future Look Like?6 Essential Things to Teach to Have a Good DogThe Top 3 Reasons Your Remote Collar Doesn't Seem to be WorkingHow Long Does It Take to Train My Dog?Put a Plan Into Motion for Dealing With Your Dog's Behavior Problems!Why are You Grateful for Your Dog?Are You Struggling to Get Your Dog to Stay? Try This.There are Only 3 Levels on a Remote Training Collar?The One Thing You Must Know if You Want to Train with an E-CollarHow to Help Your Dog Understand What You WantPhotos: One Great Reason to Teach a Place Command to Your DogNew Puppy TipsSit? or Sit! -- The Case for Intonation When Speaking to Your DogNumber of CommandsSo Your Dog Knows Sit. Now What?20 Reasons to Teach a Place CommandE-Collar Use: Training vs. EnforcingKnow How to Train a Dog, Know How to Use a Remote Collar?5 Ways to Enhance Feeding Time"But my dog doesn't like it."Outwit Your Dogs if You Want Better BehaviorWeaning Off E-Stim: Tap, Tell or HelpProofing: How to Help Your Dog Really "Get It."Should Your Dog Sleep on the Bed With You?Human Body LanguageGood Health: The Missing Link for a Happy and Well-Adjusted Dog?Are You the Center of Your Dog's World?E-Collar Training: Be Sure to Do This Before You Go Off LeashWhat Behavior are You Rewarding the Most?The Importance of Routine Nail Trims for Your DogWhen is the Right Time to Start Training My Dog?Is it Important that a Dog Learn to Heel?3 Things to do Right Now to Avoid Separation Issues with Your DogTraining Your Dog to Stop BarkingHow to Use a No Bark Collar