- Sit (***)
- Huxley sits at every light. He's walked to work hundreds of
times and all over the city, so he's had plenty of practice.
- Down (***)
- Lie down. Gesture: point to the floor or tap on it in front of
- Sit up (***)
- Go from lying down to sitting up. We first tried using "sit"
for this, but that never worked at all. Once we made up a 'new'
command Hux picked it up right away.
- Stand up (**)
- Go from lying or sitting to standing up.
- Stay (**)
- Will stay for a minute, but not for many minutes. Gesture:
open-handed stop sign.
- Come here (**)
- Gesture: kneel down and/or stare fixedly at him. For extra
emphasis, whistle high-low in the same tones as the verbal
- OK (***)
- Release from "stay", "wait", "play dead", etc.
- Back to bed (*)
- Go to his dog bed. Only works when we're both next to it.
- Find Dave, Find Penny (***)
- Go where the other one of us is. Gesture: Point towards the
person he should find, or the direction he should go to find
- Ready? (***)
- Pay attention because I'm about to throw something for you to
fetch or catch.
- Get it (***)
- Fetch. Once we found the first toy he liked enough to chase,
Hux turned into a great fetcher!
- Up (***)
- Jump up onto a ledge. Hux can jump 36 inches straight up on to
- Jump in (no stars)
- Get into his dog carrier. This one has never had a hope of
succeeding, as not only is there nothing he likes less than his
dog carrier, he's outgrown it.
- Jump up (**)
- Jump up in to the back seat of the car. We're not sure why he
usually hesitates and even whines when asked to do this, but he
does it eventually. There's no good reason why this is different
from "Up", but it is.
- Look (*)
- Look at me so I can take your picture, or so that you'll see
where I throw the ball.
- Excuse me (**)
- Move so that I can go where you are now.
- Look out (*)
- Move, because you're in the way or in danger of something.
- Let's go (**)
- Follow me; we're going out. It only just occurred to me that
we say this consistently and Hux responds to it consistently. I
wonder if he thinks it's a command or whether he's just always
ready to go?
- Leave it (**)
- Don't pick that up!
- Drop it (**)
- Now that you've picked it up anyway, drop it! Better late than
- Easy (no stars)
- Stop pulling on the leash.
- Wait (**)
- Stand still and wait for the human holding the leash to catch
up. Used when walking on a long leash and about to pass
something potentially dangerous like an intersection or a garage
- Around (***)
- Go around a tree or pole to untangle his leash. Huxley seems
to be proud of having figured this one out; he prances proudly
when he does it.
- Sidewalk (**)
- As in "get out of the street and back on the sidewalk".
- Traffic (no stars)
- Get out of the way of other people on the sidewalk. Used when
walking on a long leash. Occasional apparent successes are
probably due to Hux's increasing experience on the leash rather
than to his having learned the command.
- This way (**)
- Stop going the other way and follow me.
- Come on (**)
- Stop sniffing around and follow me. Whether this one works or
not depends on what he's sniffing.
- Up (**)
- This means "stand on your hind legs to reach a treat in my
hand", too. Always successful despite the ambiguity, given the
promise of the treat.
- Beg (**)
- Sit up on your hind legs. Only differs from "up" in that the
treat is closer to the ground.
- Pets (**)
- Stand on his hind legs and put his paws on your knees so you
can reach his head for some petting. Gesture: slap your knees.
- Shake hands (***)
- Hux learned this one fast! He actually seems to be learning
how to learn. Gesture: offer your hand.
- Right paw (* 1/2)
- Shake with his right paw instead of his left. (Oops; we should
have taught him to use his right paw in the first place.) Huxley
hasn't figured out left and right yet, so he always offers his
paw, but it's only the correct one 50% of the time.
- High five (***)
- Put up his paw for a high five. Gesture: do it yourself.
- Play dead (**)
- Roll onto his back. Gesture: Move hand, preferably with a
treat, over his head to one side.
- Roll over (**)
- Roll onto his back, keep going, and wind up on all fours
again. Hux can't really tell this from "play dead" (we've really
been pouring on the tricks lately) but if the hand with the
treat keeps going, so does Hux.
- Go on lookout (***)
- Climb halfway up the stairs and stick his head through the
railing. We taught Huxley this in memory of his late lamented
cousin Milo. Gesture: Wave your hand to shoo him up the stairs.
- Howl (**)
- Huxley resists howling on command. Sometimes he just makes a
little noise to see if it's enough. He's less willing to do it
in public than at home. He seems to think it's inappropriate,
like swearing. Gesture: Blow a little air in his face.
- Alley-oop! (**)
- Jump through Penny's arms held in a circle.
- Go long! (**)
- Move farther away so I can lob his ball at him so he can catch
it. Gesture: pretend to toss the ball. Huxley's newest trick.
- Good boy! [chirpy] (***)
- Looks up to see if he's been good enough for a treat. If that
doesn't get his attention, "very good!" surely will.
- Ohhhhhh! [long falling tone] (**)
- Hux, you gave the wrong response to a command!
- Off! (***)
- As in "get your front paws off that person" or the kitchen
counter, or "get off the sofa".
- Quiet! (no stars)
- Said in a low growly tone of voice, just like an irritated
older dog. Despite the verisimilitude, Hux shows no sign of
having gotten this one.
- No! (***)
- Gets it every time, probably due to the tone of voice it's
- Bad dog! (***)
- The words don't matter much; when we say this (which we almost
never have to), Hux gets the point from our angry voice.
- No stars
- Huxley doesn't know this command. Only his owners do.
- Still in training.
- Usually gets it. Might need repetition, hand or body signals
or a leash-tug in the right direction. Might blow it if there's
- Gets it every time.
Huxley always responds best to a command when it's preceded by
his name, and when it's pronounced clearly and in the tones he's
used to. Every command has its correct tone, describing which
correctly would really take some effort. Sometimes the tone
conveys emotion; sometimes it mimics the desired motion. Many
commands have gestures, to which Hux pays at least as much
attention as the verbal equivalents.