Teaching the dog Russian

Nyx is under the impression that “go away” means the same thing as “lie down”. She may have some reason for this, since the only time we say “go away” is when she’s standing in front of the television. This wouldn’t be an issue if she were a Jack Russell Terrier or if our television were higher up. Unfortunately for our viewing pleasure, she’s 34 inches at the shoulder (about – I don’t remember exactly what it was when we measured her) and the television is on a coffee table. When she’s trying to be close to us, she stands directly between the couch and the television and looks longingly at the much-too-small space on the couch where she would really like to be. That’s when “Go away!” is uttered. If she promptly curls up on the floor, she doesn’t get squirted; if she continues to stand and look lost, we squirt her and she moves.

We’ve had a few issues with what words we use to train her. When she was very little, we were trying to teach her “Down” (lie down) and “Off” (don’t jump on people – all paws on the floor, please!). This worked well as long as no one else was around, but people who are not dog people did not understand the distinction and used the two words interchangeably. This confused the dog. We eventually gave up. “Down” and “Off” are now interchangeable. Both mean “get your feet back on the floor!” and the command for “lie down” is in Russian. It works beautifully, and people don’t get confused.

I’ve never taught a dog commands in another language, but it helps keep her from being confused, and that helps a lot.