Monolingual German police dogs / Britische Polizei muss Deutsch sprechen

It is widely reported today (and yesterday) that British police have been importing German shepherd dogs and are confronted with the need to say Sitz instead of sit or retrain the dogs to understand English commands.

The stories are all apparently based on one Press Association report and most contain the examples:

sitz: sit
platz: down
aus: let go
holen: fetch
bissen: bite

Here’s the Sun, for example (surprisingly free of anti-German sentiment). The Daily Mail goes into more detail:

Another police dog-handler, who has worked with the German-trained pooches, said: “It was quite fun learning a new language.

“It’s amazing how quick they are to respond as soon as you utter a German command, but when you say ‘let go’ in English they just look at you like you are crazy.

“But as soon as you say ‘Aus’ they drop whatever they are holding like a shot.”

The learning is a two-way process, however, with the dogs also being taught English in the hope they will ultimately become “bilingual” and respond to both languages.

A Derbyshire police spokeswoman said: “I know we have got three and we speak German to them but they are now learning English. We are repeating the German commands in English so they are becoming bilingual.”

Here are some German dog commands (Hundekommandos). Fass, of course (sorry – not Beiß – see comment), is missing, as you’re not supposed to train your private bull terrier to do that.

4 thoughts on “Monolingual German police dogs / Britische Polizei muss Deutsch sprechen

  1. Love the idea of bilingual dogs. Do they get interpreter training, too?

    Coming back to a recent thread, perhaps dogs could even be trained to read the “handwriting on the wall” and to do a better job than the US military’s pet MT program.

    • At least the articles didn’t postulate bilingual police (although it seems to me that ‘bilingual’ police are a prerequisite of ‘bilingual’ dogs).
      From what little I know about dog training, I wonder if starting to say ‘Aus – Let go’ will not produce a requirement for double commands. I mean, it’s not like the weather forecasts in Britain where the viewers were supposed to get used to the Celsius and gradually forget the Fahrenheit.

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