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In many cultures around the world, a dog is known as “man’s best friend”. Dog’s are known for their loyalty and friendliness and many people value them as not only a friend but also a family member.
Dog-lovers abound in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. If you want to transform a Spanish acquaintance into a lifelong friend, one of the best small talk questions you can ask is: ¿Tienes alguna mascota?
If they say, “si, perro”, you can be sure you’ve found a topic of conversation that they can really warm up to.
If you are thinking of getting a dog yourself, or if you want to make your Spanish language lessons a little more interesting, you might want to think about learning some Spanish dog commands.
Even if you don’t have a dog, it might be a good idea as well to know how to “talk” to your Spanish-speaking friend’s beloved furry friend. Being nice to animals, especially to a person’s beloved pet is a sure-fire way to make a good impression.
The “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan believes that there are five essential dog commands that every dog should learn. Though most of Millan’s shows and books are in English (or translated into another language), he actually learned Mexican Spanish as his first language as he was born and raised in Mexico.
Millan believes that teaching your dog basic dog training commands can help tackle behavior problems. Dog owners would do well to train their dogs to recognize and respond to: sit, come, down, stay, leave it.
Let’s take a look at what these basic dog commands are in Spanish.
English equivalent: Sit
Pronunciation guide: sehn-tah-te
This command comes from the Spanish verb “sentar” which means “to sit”. So, when you use this Spanish dog command, your dog should stop what it is doing and take a sitting position.
This command is useful because it is a way to make your dog stop and pay attention to you. If it is being unruly, you can use this to tell it to calm down. It also often serves as the starting point by which you give your dog other commands.
For example, if you want your dog to stay still while you fetch and attach his leash, say “siéntate” then follow it up with “stay”. Your dog will eventually realize that “siéntate” comes before other commands and he should then stay sitting and alert to hear the next command.
English equivalent: Come
Pronunciation guide: behn
This command comes from the Spanish verb “venir” which means “to come”. You use it when you want to call your dog over to you.
This is another important Spanish dog command as it can prevent your dog from getting into mischief or keep him from situations that will harm them.
For example, if your dog is off the leash and overly curious about a pile of garbage or a possibly dangerous wild animal like a porcupine or skunk, a quick firm “ven” should make your dog change its course and come over to you – instead of getting into harm’s way.
English equivalent: Down
Pronunciation guide: ah-bah-hoh
This is one of those Spanish dog commands that is meant to stop unwanted behavior. There are two common reasons why you want your dog to recognize and respond to “abajo”.
The first would be because you want your dog to calm down and stop a certain behavior. It’s similar to “siéntate” that way, except when you say “abajo” want you want to do is for your dog to stop what he’s doing and lie down on the ground.
Another reason you want your dog to recognize what “abajo” means is because you want to correct a negative behavior. In this case, you want to keep your dog from climbing up on the furniture. You want your dog to recognize that he isn’t allowed up on the couch so when you see him say “abajo”.
A very well-trained dog won’t just get down from a couch at a sharp “abajo”, he might even assume the position and lie on the ground till your next command.
English equivalent: Stay
Pronunciation guide: kyeh-toh
While the other Spanish dog commands we’ve listed so far are pretty straightforward, this command has a different meaning when you’re not talking to a dog.
“Quieto” is actually an adjective used to describe someone or something as still, calm, or peaceful. When you use “quieto” as a dog command, however, you’re telling your dog what you want it to do and that is to stay in place.
Let’s go back to the scenario we discussed when we were talking about “siéntate”. “Siéntate” and “quieto” are often used in tandem. You want your dog to sit and stay in place, usually because you need to do something.
Back to the previous example, if you are about to take your dog for a walk but you left his leash in another room, you can tell him “siéntate” first, then add “quieto”. Your dog should remain sitting in place, even if you leave the room, while you look for and then put on his leash.
English equivalent: Leave it
Pronunciation guide: deh-ha-loh
This is another of those Spanish dog commands that you can use to prevent your dog from hurting itself or getting in a bad situation.
If you tell your dog to “déjalo” when you think it is about to pick up a piece of trash or approach an animal that could hurt it, like a fierce cat or a skunk, your dog should stop in its approach.
You might then want to follow it up with a “ven” and a well-trained dog should come over to you, completely detaching itself from a situation that could have ended up causing it harm.
The five basic dog commands are mostly ways to ensure that your dog behaves themselves. Learning them will help you keep better control of your dog and keep him from situations that might be harmful to you, your dog, or other people and creatures.
There are other Spanish dog commands that you can learn, however, and here are a few fun and interesting ones. These commands are often the cue for more advanced behaviors or even tricks that you can teach your dog after he’s learned to “sit” and “stay”.
English equivalent: No
Pronunciation guide: Noh
This is another Spanish dog command that is meant to correct your dog’s behavior. A quick sharp “no” should let a well-trained dog know that it is doing something wrong and stop it.
English equivalent: Yes
Pronunciation guide: See
How to say “yes” in a language is something that every language learner needs to know. While you might not necessarily find many reasons to tell your dog “si”, it can’t hurt.
This is usually only used as a command for “advance” training. For example, if you’ve trained your dog not to eat unless given a certain command, oftentimes that command it “si”.
English equivalent: Up
Pronunciation guide: ah-rree-bah
Like “si” this is another of those Spanish dog commands that are only mostly used in advanced tricks. For example, a dog trainer could train your dog to jump up to something or jump over something by pointing at it and saying “arriba”. “Arriba” can also be used as a command to have a dog stand on its hind legs.
A less tricky example of the use of “arriba” as a dog command could be if you’ve trained your dog to lie down and stay lying down. You could then train him that he’s not to get up or move till he hears “arriba”.
English equivalent: Fetch
Pronunciation guide: trah-her
This is another of those Spanish dog commands that are used to teach your dog a cute behavior. This is the command that you use if you want to tell your dog to “fetch” or retrieve an item. If you’ve taught your dog the basic commands, you might want to teach them to fetch a ball or a stick. It’s a great trick and also a fun way of playing with your dog.
English equivalent: Good dog!
Pronunciation guide: mwee byehn
The translation of this Spanish phrase is “very good” and it’s a simple, common way to praise someone in Spanish or to tell them that they did a good job. As a Spanish dog command, it is the equivalent of saying that your dog is “good” or say “good boy”.
Strictly speaking, it’s not really a command, but it’s a useful phrase to be able to say to your dog. Your dog aims to please you and it’s good to acknowledge and reinforce their good behavior with this phrase.
English equivalent: Bad dog!
Pronunciation guide: peh-rroh mah-loh
This phrase combines the Spanish word for dog with the Spanish adjective for “bad”. If you want to scold your dog and emphasize that you don’t want him to repeat a certain behavior, you should let him know that he was “bad”.
English equivalent: Shake
Pronunciation: dah-meh lah pah-tah
This is another one of those cute tricks you can try to teach your dog after he has learned the basic Spanish dog commands. Teaching your dog to shake hands, to extend its paw in greeting after saying “dama la pata” is a fun and easy trick that is sure to delight young and old alike.
The translation of “dama la pata” is actually “give me your paw”.
English equivalent: Lie down
Pronunciation quide: eh-chah-do
This is another Spanish dog command that you can use if you want to tell your dog to assume a certain position. In this case, you want him to lie down on the floor.
English translation: Come here
Pronunciation guide: behn ah-kee
This is basically the longer version of “ven”. It’s translated to “come here” and it’s used to command your dog to come to you.
English equivalent: Heel
Pronunciation guide: hoon-toh
This is a Spanish dog command that you can use to make sure that your dog behaves himself when walking on a leash. This is the Spanish word for “together” and it’s rather fitting because basically, it’s the command to tell your dog to walk beside you.
When you ask a dog to “heel”, instead of straining on its leash or walking in all different directions, it is supposed to walk beside you or at your heels. It’s good to train your dog to do so as it will result in safer and less stressful walks. It’s also important as it will keep your dog under control when walking in a busy street or in a crowded area.
Some dog owners and trainers will say that the effectiveness of a dog command isn’t so much what the command say’s but how the one giving the command says it.
Dogs respond to body language and tone of voice, so you need to be able to say these Spanish dog commands clearly and authoritatively.
It will be a good idea to download this PDF of the Spanish dog commands that we discussed here. You can also probably take this list with you the next time that you have a class with your native Spanish-speaking online tutor.
As we mentioned, being able to say these commands clearly is crucial to getting a dog to understand what you want it to do. Practicing saying these commands with a Spanish tutor will help ensure that you are pronouncing these words correctly. They can also give you tips on your accent.
1. Siéntate English equivalent: Sit 2. Ven English equivalent: Come 3. Abajo English equivalent: Down 4. Quieto English equivalent: Stay 5. Déjalo English equivalent: Leave it
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