From the time we got Tucker, I always handled him a lot, everywhere. It was nice for bonding with him, but also for checking him..and it helps the vet on his visits. He's always been used to his ears, feet, paws, etc. being handled and touched, and we've always talked to him. You know, everyday conversation, and he having that 'I know whatcha mean' look back at us.
One thing I also made a habit of doing was using short words to associate actions. I'm so glad I did, 'cause he understands so many thing, and isn't surprised or bothered when we have to clean his ears and such.
It started with housetraining...potty-potty, I repeated over and over when he went; the words associated what he was to do; he will pee on command now if I say it; that's nice for leaving somewhere in the car. Other things he understands are....clean eyes, check ears, clean ears, car ride, go for a walk, go swimming, stay in the yard (if he's roaming in the field, I'll call him down out of it and tell him to stay in the yard), wipe paws (he has to stay on the tile inside the front door 'til paws are cleaned), cut nails, find it, ready? (that's his cue we're gonna play ball, or something else fun's gonna happen), collar (he stops and waits at the door to have his collar put on/taken off when going out/coming in..we don't usually have it on inside), time for Larry! (he goes to a corner of the deck to watch and wait for hub to come home from work), and the best one, of course...time to eat! If he's in the field, or roaming the yard and I yell it's time to eat....he beats the clock running in!
Well... we talk to Ender... a LOT... I think he knows "doggy day care" and "beach" and "ride" cuase we get the whole butt wiggle thing when we say those words. Also "Lucy" for his border collie girlfriend
But... that being said... I hope oneday he is as good as you describe Tucker to be. What you've described Tucker doing so far on this forum has really "wowed" me and I hope Ender is as smart.
We talk to Jack all the time sometimes I think people think I'm NUTS BUT WHO CARES he knows - (get busy,go on) for potty - daddy and mama ( for me and DH) lets go to the beach - camp (for doggie day care) want to see Annie (for my moms puppies also 2 border collies) eat breakfast/dinner - Jack look ( means to come find me or DH and sit when he does find us ) go to place ( for him to sit on his bed and stay there ) want to see vince ( vince is his trainer) come cuddle,cuddle up - go to bed ( gets off my bed and goes in his crate) walk, car ride ( and he runs to where I hang up his leads ) ready (for when we are play fetch) Grandma for DH's moms house/beach trip and wrong for when he is doing something we don't want him to be doing
we also did wipe paws and I'm sooooo glad he gets that for when it's raining and he ofcourse finds the mud. ;D
Plus all the regular commands - I cant get over how smart this breed is everyday he surprises me *
I'm going to start with the clean ears.eyes,and cut nails ( we do it now and he lets us but we never thought of making a command )
Jake and I have a constant conversation going on when we're both awake, it's a little one-sided maybe, but I don't mind
It's funny because he had an ear infection last week, and SO would look at me and mouth "let's do his ears" because I need him to hold the 70 lb. monster while I put the medicine in. Nothing audible, no movement from SO or myself, and where's Jake? Hidden under the kitchen table, ear back, looking all hangdog!
He knows the usual words, river, park, swim, where's daddy? where's mommy?, up, stairs, go, come, mealtime, who did this? crate, and the names of some of his toys etc. - I need to teach him to bring me the telephone when it rings ... that would be a useful trick!
Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. - Cree prophecy
Ender's mom....Tucker has been so easy to train and work with, for the most part; a lot of it's in his temperament and all. It helps, too, when I probably have a dog that's smarter than I am. ;D
I use the words just in normal conversational tone..not as commands, like regular commands (sit, stay, etc.); he understands, that way, what's going on (he's getting his ears checked, etc.)
I took a puppy class with him at 16 wks. old. After that, I wasn't able to attend any group classes, because of my work schedule. I'd read tips and advice on this, and another lab board, and read lots of books on training, as well as body language, communicating with your dog, 'reading' your dog...those kinds of things. I worked with him for countless hours. I took him places (Petsmart, vet, strip shopping malls walking past stores, ballparks, etc.) for exposure to people and new places; still do.
Don't be tooo impressed...he's not perfect, oh no. He doesn't always listen; but he has learned a lot so far, I think, and he's a great companion; but most important to me, he's a dog people like to be around.
I love reading how all of you talk to your dogs too, and the words they understand...they are a smart breed, as you said.
I talk to Scotty all the time. It's amazing what words he was able to pick up and learn w/o me actually teaching them. He knows cheese and cookie. He also knows "let's go for" "a walk," "a ride," "train." It'a amazing what they can learn. I've heard somewhere that dogs' level of language is the same as a 3 year old child's.