Bridging the vocabulary gap


Dog psychologists say that an average dog recognizes about 165 words and the number can go higher with appropriate training. The best part of it is that any pet parent can become a language trainer – find out how to make your dog learn in these ‘5 Ways’ that guarantee fun all the way!
Rashi Sanon Narang
1. Teach while
they play

Learning toy names is a great way to start your pooch’s vocabulary training exercises. Line up a few of her favourite toys, and ask your student to fetch one at a time on command. Start small, say, with just two toys and teach her to distinguish one from the other by the name of it.
2.  Keep voice modulations consistent while teaching commands
Your aim is to make the doggie respond to your command at a single instruction spoken in your regular tone. Therefore, ensure that, during the training, you speak out a command just once, and at your normal volume. Avoid yelling, even if she doesn’t get it in the first few times, else it will put her under the impression that she has to respond only when her master speaks at a loud pitch and it might even discourage your buddy from learning further.
3.  Utilise her strongest sense to aid learning
The more you teach her, the more are the benefits you reap. Your pooch is a natural retriever, and she does it by her incredibly strong sense of smell. Dab some droplets of an essential oil or perfume on basic items like mobile phone, keys and wallets and teach her to find these objects by associating them with their smell. Now the next time you can’t find your keys, you’ll have help handy!
4. Use her favourite food items to teach her numbers
Your canine is perfectly capable of understanding numbers to a small count. Keep one biscuit in one bowl and two of them in the other. Slowly teach her to fetch the bowl with the number of biscuits you ask her to fetch. Increase the count as she begins to progress. For doggies with weaker maths, you can teach how to compare between bundles of different sizes – the bowl with two biscuits can be referred to as small while the one with six biscuits can be called big; upon instruction, she fetches the small or the big lot
5.  Can we forget the treats?
Enthuse your dog to put in her best into the vocabulary training exercises by savory treats – she surely deserves a goodie for being a good student! Moreover, you can give the treats names too, so that she starts recognising her therapy foods in human ways.
Tips to follow

  • Canines are better poised to responding to hard syllables than soft ones. Therefore, use words starting in a hard syllable wherever an alternative is available.
  • Don’t confuse your beloved pet with synonyms – use the same word for an object at all times, and get all members of the family to do the same.

(Rashi Sanon Narang runs Heads Up For Tails- India’s label for ‘pawsh’ pet products in New Delhi. Visit: