How many cues does your dog know? Have you ever counted? I did, and I'll get to that in a minute. But first. . .

If you have done any training with me, you've probably heard me say at least once: “Mental stimulation is just as taxing, if not more so, than physical stimulation.” OR, “Our dogs need mental stimulation just as much as they need physical stimulation.” When I use Romeo as an example, I point out that I just do not have enough time in the day to wear him out through physical stimulation alone. He just does not wear out that easily. But mental stimulation goes a long way toward burning off his energy. I'd say it works better than much of the physical stimulation he gets.

I absolutely need to mentally stimulate Romeo. He's a smart but mischievous teenager who needs appropriate outlets for his energy. If I don't give him constructive ways to use his brain, he will create less constructive ways to use his brain.

You've probably heard me say that Romeo works for his breakfast every day. He does not eat it out of a bowl. He works for every bit of it by hand. I am often asked what we work on every day.

That got me thinking about all the things we do work on. As of right now (March 2011), I have 41 items on my list – no, make that 42, I just thought of another one!  No, 47, I remembered a few more! Here goes:

  • Romeo
  • Around
  • Back up
  • Bring it
  • Bring it to Daddy
  • Catch
  • Check in
  • Come
  • Down
  • Drop it
  • Fetch
  • Finish
  • Front
  • Go
  • Go to sleep
  • Hand target
  • Heel
  • In
  • Kennel up
  • Leave it
  • Let's dance!
  • Let's go
  • Off
  • Out
  • Over
  • Over here
  • Put yer head down
  • Shake
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Stay
  • Stretch
  • Swing
  • Take a break
  • That's rude
  • This way
  • To your bed
  • Under
  • Up
  • Wait
  • Watch me
  • What are you supposed to do?
  • What can you do?
  • Where's Daddy?
  • Where's the Baby?
  • With me

Some I use more than others. Some have hand signals, some have verbal cues, some have both. He's not perfect on all of these yet. Once in a while he gets confused or anticipates and does something else, and I have to remind him to pay attention to what I am asking him to do. But he's making good progress. Most days. Depends on the day.

I'd be curious to hear how many cues your dog knows or is learning. If it's a pretty small list, it might be time to teach him/her something new!