Speaking Italian to My Dog

I’m posting it on the blog so I have to do it: I’m teaching Bright Italian.

No, I do not currently speak Italian, but I’m working on that.

But why, you ask?

Well, for one thing, I’m sick of strangers giving my dog commands. Can I get an amen?

“Oh can I say hi to your dog?”

“Sure, just give me a second to get her situated. Bright, s-”


You have to imagine that swooping inflection that people use when speaking to dogs and babies. Now imagine me getting extremely sassy and telling this goof ball that his behavior is totally inappropriate. First of all, Bright doesn’t respond to sing-songy talk like that, because I don’t do it. She thinks it’s a game. Great. Now it’s time for a game. Second of all, GB (yes, that’s abbreviated goof ball) had the wherewithal to  ask if he could pet the dog. Did he lose his brain when I said yes? She’s not a remote controlled car. You don’t get to just flip a switch and make her do stuff.

I know that all sounds kind of comical, but it’s really a problem. My dog’s interactions with others are supposed to be controlled in a way that reinforces that I’m in charge. When other people give her commands, especially in a way she’s not used to, it’s confusing for her and disruptive for me.

Anyway, I know German is more commonly used for dogs, but Bryan and I are really working hard at learning Italian, so it seems like kind of a fun project to not leave Bright out. I promise to post updates.

First command: Sedutto. Who can translate that? (No Google Translate, you stinking cheaters.)

She responds very appropriately to sedutto if I’m sitting in my living room, holding a piece of popcorn…we’re working on the whole generalization thing now. My first bilingual dog…wish us luck!


11 thoughts on “Speaking Italian to My Dog

  1. So glad to hear this! I have said so many times that I wish CCI used a different language for commands because it is SO HARD to teach puppies to focus when every stranger that sees you is trying to give commands, and being the good little puppies they are, they listen. 75% of our problems as raisers could be fixed if people were better behaved 😉 Good luck to all three of you on learning Italian!

    • Yeah – I think for CCI as an org, it would be tough to use words that volunteers and grads would have to learn, but it would sure solve some problems, wouldn’t it?

  2. I bet every puppy raiser out there has the same problem – I know I do. We do a library reading program and sometimes there are 3-4 kids all giving my pup commands at the same time…different commands. So…how are you going to teach Bright to NOT listen to English anymore once she has learned the Italian??? 🙂

    • Haha I bet that if she just isn’t given English commands very often, she’ll be less likely to respond to them from strangers, and I won’t have to correct her when she doesn’t because it’s not a behavior I’m enforcing. *Fingers crossed*

  3. i hear what your saying. i go through the same thing almost every day. personally training pups a different language at their beginning of training will be somewhat of a challenge. unless one knows for sure this puppy is going to a person that speaks the language. i got my sd lizzy from ecad1.org . they only used English and no hand signs.command. why. their clients are majority mobility.. all sd are trained the same. been teaching lizzy hand signs w.command. i think in my humble opinion it is up to the handler if they want a bilingual commands. good luck. ciao..shalom…is the command sit.

  4. Oh, I so empathize! I taught Itzl to never, ever respond to a command unless it was preceded by “Itzl I say” and a hand signal. Most people think he’s not trained because he doesn’t sit on their command, doesn’t come on their command, doesn’t do tricks, and won’t eat the food they try to feed him.

    I thought about using a different language (Klingon or Esperanto, for example) but in the end, I decided to go with the “Simon Says” type command because the extended command makes me enunciate clearly (important when hearing impaired, I tend to slur otherwise) and the hand signal is confirmation and approval both.

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