The Case for Speaking German to Your Dog
Thuringia, Germany, 2018 — …after running up and down the football pitch all afternoon, the young man and the youths retired to the clubhouse for refreshments. He was there to teach them English but he also found that they were typically fluent despite being kids and teenagers. Most impressive were the conversations these kids were capable of having; the finer points of philosophy, ethics in team sports, and even critical analyses of American hip-hop. The young man’s best guess was that these kids had become so sharp and aware from learning the German as their first language; after becoming fluent in that severe and precise tongue, other languages—perhaps reality itself—seemed a lot easier to get a handle on…
Few modern countries have had as much impact on modern American dog ownership as Germany. Case in point, If we think of police dogs, most of us would default to a mental image of a German shepherd poised like a coiled spring, awaiting a command. Or perhaps you own a Rottweiler, Pinscher, Schnauzer, etc. You’ve probably also heard of Schutzhund, (German for “protection dog”) a sport for dogs which developed in Germany in the early 1900s and where all the commands are given in German. As Schutzhund requires canines to carry out complex maneuvers through obstacles based on their owner’s commands, the sharp consonant sounds of the German language (often single syllable) are ideal for communicating clearly and eliciting the desired results.
Realistically, most among us don’t need our canine friends to carry out complex maneuvers, but if you are interested in trying proven, phonetically simple commands for your pooch, here are some of the basic ones:
This one isn’t much different from its English counterpart. The extra ‘Z’ on the end makes it sound a little more severe and, well…German. Go on—dig deep and bark it out like an Indiana Jones villain.
Lay Down. This is one of the more broadly useful German alternatives because one syllable is preferable to two when training a dog. Incidentally, a ‘Platz’ in Germany is the same as a ‘Piazza’ in Italy or a ‘Plaza’ in English-speaking countries.
No. Anyone who’s listened to the band, Rammstein probably knows this one. Simple, effective and an easy enough substitution to make.
Here/Come. As the English counterpart is also single-syllable, this word’s efficacy relies on inflection and using it as a command rather than a request.
Fetch. Most pups don’t need to be told to fetch, but if you’ve already trained your little canine dude to stay put and wait for your command, you will probably benefit from learning this command.
Out/Drop it. Pairs well with Bring—Remember your German inflection!
Stay. What’s good about this command is that it sounds a lot different from Sit and Sitz, so there is less chance of confusing your pooch.
Try some of these commands and see how they work with your pooch; they may respond very well. Until then, tschüss!