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Why Do Dogs Speak German? – Bilingualism in Dog Training

You are strolling down a quiet road in your hometown when, suddenly, you hear a man shout “Bleib!” “Achtung!” and “Sitz!” He is clad in a security forces uniform, and next to him stands a sharp looking German Shepherd.

Don’t worry, though; you have not accidentally crossed into the Twilight Zone. There is a perfectly good explanation for this.

All over the world, service dogs trained in Europe are employed by police and other organizations to assist their agents in performing their duties. Naturally, these dogs will have learned commands given in a variety of languages, so it’s common for handlers in the US to use these commands, especially when their furry assistants are FOB. Eventually, service dogs can learn the commands in a new language and become essentially bilingual.

Schutzhund, literally “protection dog,” is a series of dogsport trials developed in Germany for the purpose of training working dogs. Eventually, it became one of the most widespread disciplines of its kind and developed into an international organization that certifies dogs who comply with its standards: the IPO.

Dogs bred and trained for IPO certification are selected to be strong, sound of mind, and capable of demonstrating their ability to track by scent, obey commands, and protect their handlers. And, although this sounds simple enough to achieve, it requires a strong training and breeding culture, as demonstrated by recent trouble in the UK’s K9 units where they state that British pooches are too soft to school, consequently having to import dogs from across Europe who are willing to do the work.

In America, nowadays, the best performing working dogs still come from The Continent, most notably from Germany, The Netherlands and the Czech Republic, and when they do come to our shores, their handlers have the choice either to teach or to learn a new language. Luckily, the vocabulary list is limited to about 15 words.

We don’t claim to understand you as well and as deeply as your furry companion might, but we do understand your translation needs. Contact us today! Our bushy-tailed sales staff are spinning in circles, waiting for your call.