What Are German Dog Commands?

Source: Flickr / rekre89

German dog commands are commands that were commonly utilized in the early 1900s during the basic training process of German shepherd and doberman security dogs, and dogs that worked with law enforcement. Today, German is the most popular language for dog commands when training a variety of breeds for various purposes, ranging from everyday behavior to security and law enforcement. In fact, a common word used for a ‘protection dog’ is Schutzhund, also from the German language. Training your dog in German is also considered a good way to teach specific commands that are only meant for him.

During the 1900s, German dog commands were also used on dogs that were being trained to fight in World War II. Germans believed that dogs were as intelligent as humans, if not more intelligent. In order to secure as many dogs as possible for the war effort, officials recruited thousands of German shepherds throughout Germany for a special intelligence training program.

The Germans believed that through this program, the dogs could learn to communicate only with their German masters, and possibly take over for them as security guards during World War II, so that the officers could have more time to fight in battles and work alongside their leader. A school was set up in Germany called Tier-Sprechschule ASRA, with courses and training for dogs of all types of breeds, and in addition to verbal commands, the dogs were trained to relay messages by tapping down with their paws. The dogs were also taught to imitate human voices, and communicate their needs through various barks and tones. When the Germans wanted their dogs to bark, they would use the command “Gib laut,” pronounced Gib-lout, which translates to speak.

When an English-speaking dog owner teaches a dog commands in German, it is extremely beneficial to the dog’s overall obedience, as the dog won’t respond to common language used around the home intended for others such as “sit,” “here,” or “no.” When a dog hears commands in German or any other language not commonly used, it reinforces communication between owner and canine.

Many English commands are very similar to German commands as far as tone and inflection, however German commands tend to be a bit more sharp and direct, making them the perfect commands when training law enforcement canines.

Basic commands include:

  • Sit = Sitzen (“sit-zen”)
  • Stand = Steh (“sh-tay”)
  • Lie Down = Platz (“plots”)
  • Stay = Bleib (“bly’b”)
  • Come = Hier (“heer”)
  • Leave It = Lass es (“loss es”)
  • Go Out = Voraus (“for owss”)

In addition, German commands used in security and law enforcement (Schutzhund Training Commands) include:

  • Search = Such (“zook”)
  • Attack/Bite = Fass! (“fahs”)
  • Heel = Fuss (“foose”)
  • Speak/Bark = Gib Laut (“geblout”)
  • Quiet = Ruhig (“rue-ig”)
  • Kennel/Crate = Zwinger (“svinger”)

Often, in combination with vocal commands, German training commands may also consist of a variety of bodily movements that quickly draw dogs to attention. To command a dog to stay, the trainer starts by raising his forearm and rotates the arm toward the chest so his fist is touching the breastbone. Lastly, the trainer pushes his arm away from the body and holds his palm out facing the dog. After several sessions, the dog familiarizes himself with the commands and easily stays when told with bodily cues.

Positive reinforcement is one of the easiest and most fool-proof ways to ensure your dog remains focused during training. Giving your dog a treat each time he learns a command and follows that command will help him understand that each time he sits, heels, or fetches, he will receive a treat as a reward. Many dog trainers recommend using the “treat lure” during the early stages of training, then phasing the treats out and replace them with positive words of encouragement, such as “Braver Hund” (“Brahfer hoond”),  aka “good dog.”