Let Your Dog Build Your Vocabulary

I used to think I had a big vocabulary. But then I got a smart dog. Now it’s downright robust.

You see, if I try to make plans with my husband to prepare her meal for a certain time, Honey gets ideas. Which means she starts barking for dinner after hearing the f-word—food.

Some people try spelling. But Honey can spell too. So now we just mix up the words we use to keep her off-balance.

Honey the Golden Retriever is close up.

You think you can fool me? I got a perfect score on my verbal SATs.

Instead of talking about making Honey’s food, we prepare her

  • repast
  • meal
  • comestibles
  • victuals
  • edibles

Instead of planning to take Honey for a walk, we take a

  • constitutional
  • perambulation
  • stroll
  • saunter
  • promenade

Instead of preparing to go on a trip, we take

  • journeys
  • peregrinations
  • voyages
  • excursions
  • junkets

Instead of asking if we should take Honey out to play some ball, we refer to her

  • orb
  • sphere
  • globe
  • rolling object
  • marble

But I suspect Honey is catching on. Her vocabulary is growing too. Pretty soon, we’ll have to whisper about her speise (German), cibus (Latin), and comida (Spanish).

With such a smart dog in the house, it’s pretty tough to stay ignorant.

Your Turn: Obviously your dog responds to certain words. How do you talk about these things without getting him overly excited?




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  1. These guys know, go, walk, eat, all the usual. It’s hard to work around that. I like your vocabulary words, watch out though, Honey might learn all those as well.

  2. I’m convinced my Poodles don’t even bother with the words we say. They get into our minds and read our thoughts…sometimes even before we think them.

  3. Sage has quite the vocabulary too. And she reads me like a book. Put shoes on–we’re going for a walk, but if I tell her I’m going to the ‘store’, she seems to understand. Sometimes I use just the first letter of a word.

  4. Lol mummy and daddy have to avoid the ‘d’ word, they use knowing looks and refer to the time instead

  5. Honey is a very smart dog.
    Ball = round yellow thing or b-a-l-l
    Cookies = C’s
    out = o-u-t

  6. He he, we have to avoid certain words too, especially ‘walk’ or ‘walkie’. We also have to be careful when asking each other questions, like ‘who’s that?’ or ‘what is it?’, because he’ll run to the window or door then. In fact, he likes words beginning with ‘w’, because that either means he’s going out for a walk or we’re asking who’s there :)

  7. It’s not the WORD so much as the BODY language. My Mom Person doesn’t have to say a thing and I know what’s up. We just KNOW these things!

  8. Mom uses another language or spells the word to keep us in the dark.

  9. This may be a way to stave off alzheimer’s. I recently read being bilingual keeps our minds in shape for longer than monolingual persons. Go, Honey!

  10. My guys don’t respond to words because I don’t associate them with things we do. They respond to actions, pick up the camera, we’re probably going to the beach, fill the water bottle, definitely going to the beach. Meal times can vary a lot depending when I get home from work and it’s not a cause for huge excitement anyway. Frankie will go and sit in front of his crate, Beryl will stay lying on the couch until I call her and Asher generally supervises meal preparation :) My dogs are boring!

    Great work Honey, you’re keeping your human’s brains far more active than my dogs do!

  11. Since I live alone I don’t need to refer to words. BJ knows all of the usual, he knows elevator, stairs, coat, etc.. Better yet, he knows how to tell time. I usually take him out between 8-9 in the morning; at around 3-4, and at 11PM. At 3:10 he comes over and starts bugging me until I take him out. At night he comes over at 11 and starts “talking” to me. It gets louder if I don’t obey his request.

    He does the same thing at 6PM because that’s when I feed him dinner.

  12. We talk about them very quietly, or in sign language! 😉

  13. I think my humans are playing the same game as you are. I’ve heard them talk about ‘the round thing’ & the f-double-o-d. I’m a clever pup though and I know what they’re up to *waggy tail*

  14. We can’t say “squirrel” or “cat.” We call the neighbor’s cat by name. The squirrels are “fluffy-tailed rodents.”

    “Do you want to go to the park?” makes Silas hide in his crate, even though he’s happy once we get there, so we never ask.