This is my response to her question "What are some of the strange cues you use to tell your dog what you need from her?" It was a bit too wordy to leave in her comment section, so here it is as a post :)
I don't know if the words are strange but I certainly find them useful! In no particular order of importance, here they are -
I guess back up are words every bigdog living in a small house has to learn. Georgia is pretty good at it. She can even go up steps backwards. [Just a few, not a whole flight.] I don't think she particularly enjoys doing it though.
"Methinks I better wait here. That corridor is too narrow and if I wait by the door, I will just have to back up out of it when Cushion comes home with my meat."
Having stinky knees, I use the word slowly quite often. It is a good word to use when you'd rather not have a 43kg dog bounding by you on the stairs while you're carrying 2 cups of scalding hot coffee.
"Hey Cushion, can we move a little faster here?"
"What do you mean...stop tailgating me?"
Since Georgia likes to sleep in the kitchen [usually right behind my feet while I am holding a sharp knife or directly in front of the fridge or pantry door in case food crumbs drop on the floor], I had to teach her how to move away on cue. We say excuse me because we like to be polite in this family.
Flashback to an early lesson on excuse me.
"Excuse me, Georgia!"
"What IS that thing, Mr T?"
"Why is it following me?"
"Oh, shove it, Mr T! I'm not scared. You just look like you could do with some company."
Curl up is something I would love to teach Georgia because it's uncomfortable sharing a small bed with a large dog that likes to sprawl and dig her nails into your legs in the middle of the night, then grumbles when you try to push her back.
So far, I've had zero success teaching her this phrase.
I always tell Georgia to relax when I'm giving her a massage. It isn't a word that requires her to respond in any way. I just want her to associate relax with an action she enjoys. Does she actually understand this? Who knows, but there are definitely times when it would be good for her to believe that this word means something nice is about to happen.
"Relax, girl. You'll feel so much better after I squeeze that awful smelly stuff out of your butt."
Ready? is another great word we use to prepare Georgia for something that is about to happen. For example, we use it before we lift each paw for washing or drying and it actually makes her shift her body weight so it's less of a struggle to lift the paw. Because the poor girl isn't psychic, I also tap the leg I want to lift as I say ready?
"Argggh! I was so NOT ready for that!"
"Okay Typist, I'm ready for my after-bath peanut butter bikkie now."
Finally, leave it! Could these be the 2 most useful words in dog training? I can honestly say, not a day goes by when we don't use leave it! at least a few times. Here are some practical examples of how we use them.
"Leave it, Georgia!"
Leave it! can, of course, also be used in situations that have absolutely nothing to do with food."Georgia! Leave! It!"
"Curl up indeed!"
"I don't know how you can expect me to stuff any more words in my head and keep up with my hand signals and español. I'm a dog, you know. Not a genius."