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Mother Tongue and BC Commands


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I've wondered for quite some time now if anyone in practice does, or knows of someone who does, use different commands from the norm (eg. 'away to me', 'come by', 'walk up' ...)

 

Traditionally, working BCs are trained on 2 input systems: vocal and whistle, with distance being the factor in using the one vs the other. Considering for a moment that in some GSD/guard dog circles, the dogs are trained using German words for each command..

 

I understand that historically, our breed of choice originated, and is used mainly, in English-speaking lands. But elsewhere other breeding practices were used, to include different trialling: http://herdingontheweb.com/french.htm It's interesting to see that a 'jump' is included in their trial system.

 

I'm curious: any Swiss sheperds use Italian, French sheperds use French etc? And if so, what would those commands be? ('left'/'right' and 'away to me'/'come by' is not immediately intuitive).

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I've known a couple of people to use Spanish for their dogs. One because he was training dogs to go south of the border. The other so he could use them for working braces of dogs.

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I use mostly Icelandic stockwork commands (though that is not my mother tongue).

Main reason because it is often practical that the people nearby also understand more or less what I tell the dog.

My dogs are rather multilingual, for instance 'down' is in english, and I also speak dutch with them.

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Last weekend I attended a trial for the portuguese championship (which had it's first edition last year) and I was also curious about the language used in commands. It turns out everybody uses the english commands.

 

The owner of the farm where the trial took place said they (I think they refers to the small portuguese comunity that uses bc's for herding and wants to learn more about it) started learning some 10 years ago. They would invite english experts to come teach them, and in the beggining it was great laughs because of how little they knew and the dificulties they went through. Anyway they learned mainly from english people so easier to use the same language. Most of the dogs at the trial had traditional english bc names, and I think many where imported, some already trained probably, so it would be easier continuing to use the words they know.

 

Then there was this guy who did an instinct test on Tess, he wasn't competing I think, said he had a farm quite far away and had several bc's. He used portuguese words, like "à volta" (means "go around" and is probably the equivalent of either come bye or away to me. Knowing the practical portuguese spirit, the other one is probably "do outro lado", which means "the other way").

 

By the way,it was the first trial I attended and it was absolutely fascinating.

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It sometimes happens that someone will rehome a collie and discover that it only responds to Welsh.

 

I wonder whether there is a difference between those operating internationally where English is the lingua franca and those who just work locally.

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I trained my second border collie to different English directioinal and stop commands because I had developed a bad habit of yelling the traditional commands with my first dog....so I actually was retraining myself to be quieter. It worked out to be quite handy, as Pete became a well-known setout dog in the West and I could easily command him at hand if needed without interfering with other nearby dogs' work. And I learned to be quieter too.

 

Amy

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He used portuguese words, like "à volta" (means "go around" and is probably the equivalent of either come bye or away to me. Knowing the practical portuguese spirit, the other one is probably "do outro lado", which means "the other way").

 

I think this is absolutely fascinating. I got a good chuckle this morning.

 

'Go around, Cap. No, your other 'around', Cap.'

 

Language providing insight to thought processes, I'd be curious to learn the list of commands that are used in other tongues.

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Okay, Icelandic it is, the following terms are used by most handlers here;

Vinstri - left, so come bye

Hægri - right, away to me

Nær - near, so walk up (it has been argued this sounds too much like the short for hægri, hæ, and some people use "áfram" instead)

Leggstu- Lay down, I use "down" myself (more comfortable to shout ;)).

Aftur - Again, meaning Look back

Rolega -Steady

Frá - Get out, some handlers use the same command for get back, not me, I use the following;

Bakka - Get back

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It's also interesting what non english people do to english commands. I soon understood that the dogs "spoke" english, but it sounded like they spoke french too. Most handlers kept saying Oui, oui. Then, paying close attention to what the dogs where doing, I realized they where shouting Wii, as in short for Away to me. Do the english do this too or was it portuguese creativity?

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"Away to me" is often shortened to just "away" or "way", with various inflections and lengths of being drawn out. So it could indeed sound like "oui" or "wii". ;)

 

As far as the dogs themselves are concerned, though, as long as they haven't been previously trained in a specific language and with specific words, a trainer could apply and word to each directive (and even then, they could be retaught). Clockwise could be "pink," counterclockwise "blue," "lie down" could be "fire truck," etc., etc.

 

Our words have no intrinsic meaning to the dogs until they've learned what they mean. Heck, words have no intrinsic meanings to humans until we assign their significance. :lol:

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You're right of course, Gentle Lake. I think portuguese use english commands mainly for 2 reasons, they have learned from english trainers, and many of their dogs where imported already trained. We have no tradition of the complex bc herding, and the interest in the breed as a working dog is pretty recent here.

 

Then there are some that may frequent a clinic now and then, but work the dogs mainly alone and use portuguese words that make sense to them. For these shepherds I think it's still quite a personal decision which words they use with the dog.

 

I've seen shepherds talk with the dogs quite coloquially, saying for instance "get around them", "go get them" or "take them off the road", and they point to show the dog which way he should go. It works of course if it's what they tell the dog every time they want him to do that action.

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It's also interesting what non english people do to english commands. I soon understood that the dogs "spoke" english, but it sounded like they spoke french too. Most handlers kept saying Oui, oui. Then, paying close attention to what the dogs where doing, I realized they where shouting Wii, as in short for Away to me. Do the english do this too or was it portuguese creativity?

You do realize that it does not really matter how you pronounce any given English word, somewhere in the world there will be a community of people that consider English to be their mother tongue who think that that is the only right way to pronounce it...

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Yeah, I do realize that :) Portuguese is the fourth more spoken language in the world and there's a lot of very different ways of speaking it also. I just find fascinating what people do with their own language or other languages. I like languages.

 

Last year I was in London visiting my boyfriend that lives there and we went to a jewish easter celebration. Everybody read a part of a text, and I remember bf was slightly anxious about me reading. After he said, "your english is better than most english". Of course this is not true, but I do try to speak carefully and conscienciously, I want it to be as perfect as possible. I have a great respect for languages. But of course variations aren't wrong, they're part of what makes a language alive.

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I gave up and taught one in Swedish (very similar flanks to Icelandic BTW). DH never got the flanks correct and then yelled at the dog when it too the one he gave instead of the one he meant so I trained Bliss in Swedish (she knows lie down in English and Swedish). It helps when working with other people she can hold with no problems involving other dogs taking her commands. and it is nice when working two dogs to have different commands

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Lot of handlers here give commands in French. A droite - away to me, Gauche - come bye, Couché - lie down, Recule - out/back, Pousse - walk on. But as people begin importing started dogs from the UK, a trend that's picking up, more are learning and teaching commands in English. I've been told more than once that the English commands have a better "snap" to the words, if it makes sense.

 

Me personally, seeing as French is not my native language, I have always used English commands. I agree that they do sound better as given orders than French.

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I don't have a working stock dog, but I use mostly Hebrew with my dogs. My Lab SAR dog worked with all Hebrew commands at home and on searches. Our mentor worked her dogs in German; while the rest of the team used English as far as I know. My present BC hears mostly Hebrew from me, with a few English terms ("this way"). The whistles I use/d for my SAR dog and now my BC are mostly my own adaptations. My wife uses English commands, and it doesn't seem to cause any confusion. I do often wonder if someone had trained my dog for an extended time, as is sometimes done with stock dogs, what I would have done when getting him back.

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@ Smalahundur: Being bi/tri-lingual, do you speak to your dogs in a single language, or do you talk to them candidly in various?

 

 

When I started this thread I was curious to learn specifically what those other-than-English mother tongue commands would be. As teresaserrano's Portugese commands. Albeit, I suppose you can't force something where it doesn't exist, and 'left', 'right', 'look back' all work fine in the end I suppose.

 

This is in part due to the functionality of being able to control 2 dogs independently, but also to learn the history of how the command came to be.

 

But who am I kidding? While traveling this past summer and visiting breeders, I came across a guy who breeds and trains both Rots and BCs. He had attempted to train the Rots on German, and the BCs on English. The Rots knew their German commands, but so did the BCs. Gosh, I am always again surprised at the learning prowess of the breed.

 

Back on topic, and just to go offtopic again.. while doing my own research as to what standard training commands might be in other languages, I chanced upon this site:

http://www.german-shepherdherding.com/

Obviously different geographical regions developed their own unique ways of tackling shepherding. Obviously, language plays a part, but so too are the tactics used.

http://www.german-shepherdherding.com/boundary-instinct-2/

Here they detail that GSDs were to have been bred with strong boundary instinct. A 'moving fence'. I suppose I'm curious to learn what 'other' commands+tactics to herding exist outside of the standard ISDS trials, and the purpose behind these commands+tactics.

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@ Smalahundur: Being bi/tri-lingual, do you speak to your dogs in a single language, or do you talk to them candidly in various?

In daily life I use four languages, Icelandic, German, Dutch and English. What would that make me, "quadrilingual", is that a even word? (just googled it, apparently it is :lol: )

Anyway, yes the dogs get talked to in all these languages. I use three, Icelandic for the main stock work commands, english, down/stay (don´t ask me why), dutch (my mother tongue) for those things that kinda develop spontaneously, like "step aside" ("aan de kant") for when a dog is in the way. I don´t use German with the dogs, but my wife does.

It doesn´t confuse them.

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Never mind different languages, different accents are bad enough! I bought my good old dog when he was 2 from a southern gentleman, who sent along a tape of Nick's commands & whistles. This gentleman had quite a drawl. Nick is a fast dog to start, but when I started working him, he was like a rocket. It took me a week or so to figure out that, to him, my quick, final-letter-dropping, NE Ohio accent sounded like I wanted him to move quickly. Poor dog had been trained in a slow southern drawl his whole life! We figured each other out eventually.

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Never mind different languages, different accents are bad enough! I bought my good old dog when he was 2 from a southern gentleman, who sent along a tape of Nick's commands & whistles. This gentleman had quite a drawl. Nick is a fast dog to start, but when I started working him, he was like a rocket. It took me a week or so to figure out that, to him, my quick, final-letter-dropping, NE Ohio accent sounded like I wanted him to move quickly. Poor dog had been trained in a slow southern drawl his whole life! We figured each other out eventually.

Haha, I have seen an Icelandic handler command his dog with English commands with a very thick welsh accent.

The dog was recently imported from Wales, fully trained...

It was pretty entertaining.

Oh and by the way, they won the trial.

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