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Breaking the language barrier

February 15th, 2006, 11:05 AM
As some of you may have read in the adoptions section, we recently added a new Berner to our family.

Our first day/night went VERY well all things considered (i.e. new people, new surroundings etc.)

So we were trying to see how many commands he new last night an it didn't seem like he was very familiar. He sat but it took awhile etc. so I'm thinking maybe a refresher obedience class might help.

Well I'm at work this morning when hubby calls to let me know that our new guy knows all his commands except (DUH! stupid me) he knows them in French! :eek: Lucky for our new guy that hubby is bilingual. :D

So my question is what is a good way to help him learn his commands in English? Is there a way we can take what he knows and help him learn the English word or should I just learn the commands in French?


February 15th, 2006, 11:10 AM
He can certainly learn his commmands in english and probably would naturally - even if you didn't deliberately try and teach him. It really is up to you.

You don't have to do anything special, just say the command in english first, then the command in french. Eventually you will fade the french version. You can also lure him into position when you give a command. Alternatively, you could teach him to respond with hand signals (which I would do anyway).

Either way, it shouldn't take long for him to learn them as he already knows the behaviour.

February 15th, 2006, 02:26 PM
Multilingual animals are always a bonus. :thumbs up I agree with Lissa - give the commands in both languages with a hand signal, and he'll get the message pretty quickly, I'm sure. ;)

February 15th, 2006, 03:01 PM
:eek: Completely forgot to mention that to you. Definitely would have been a good idea to have gone over them with you. Sheesh, some days.. silly me. :o

February 15th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Yep, just repeat them in both languages. One of my dogs came only knowing a native language for the reserve she came from. We looked halarious trying to speak the language for her!!!! Im sure our pronunciation was all wrong to. Lukily she is a very smart dog!

doggy lover
February 15th, 2006, 05:16 PM
You could always teach a old dog a new trick and learn french:p . LOL couldn't resist that one. I WANT PIC'S, I WANT PIC'S.

February 15th, 2006, 05:17 PM
LOL Our old dobie was a show doggy before we got him, so the training was so deep that we couldn't get him to understand english, not for lack of trying. For 10 years, we spoke to our doggy in French because that way he understood what we wanted best. It must have been kind of funny, seeing this 100% English family talking to the doggy in French.:D Jemma and Boo are nearly fully bilingual, plus hand signals...

Do you know the commands in French? It would be hard to try to retrain without them...

February 16th, 2006, 08:21 AM
Thanks everyone for your suggestions! Hubby has been great testing all the commands in French with him to see what he knows. I think we are going to work with him in French until he has had a little longer to adjust to his new surroundings etc. He's very smart so I don't think he will have any problems realting the commands to the English word.

I haven't taken any French classes since high school so it looks like I will need to little refresher from hubby. :o

I'll keep everyone posted and promise to take some pics this weekend.:)

Lucky Rescue
February 16th, 2006, 09:02 AM
My last dog "spoke" French only when we got him. He ended up bilingual since my hubby was French.

Our dog learned English VERY rapidly, especially words like "Cookie" "Walk" and "Dinnertime"! :p

February 16th, 2006, 09:03 AM
lol LR, amazing how they learn the good stuff first.. maybe some selective hearing involved.. ;)

February 16th, 2006, 02:14 PM
I love to walk up to a dog I have never met and speak Swahili and they do what I ask. I only know a couple of Swahili words - not a polyglot by any means. :p
The words really don't matter as much as you think. Itís your body language, attitude and intentions.