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How to Teach Your Dog to Speak & Bark on Command

Source: PetWave, Updated on August 30, 2016
Speak / Bark Guide:

Getting Started

Training dogs to speak, or bark on command is a fun way to interact with your pet. Unfortunately teaching your dog to speak can be difficult, because it requires the ability to have your dog associate the command “speak” with barking. The best way to achieve this goal is to find situations where you know your dog will bark, gain their attention or focus, and always have treats available to reward them for their behavior. Remember to have patience, and always use positive reinforcement.

Things You Will Need:

  • Flexibility in terms of always being ready
  • Treats readily available
  • Situation where you know your dog will bark
  • As little distractions as possible

Step One

The first step is to find a situation where you know your dog is going to bark. For example, when someone knocks on your door, a bell rings, or when trying to get your attention to throw a ball. It is important however to choose a situation where your dog is barking to be playful vs. being aggressive. For example, do not choose a situation where your dog is barking at another animal, is being threatened, and/or in a dangerous situation. The goal is to reinforce playfulness, and not aggression and/or fear.

Step Two

Once you have found something that you know will cause your dog to bark, it is time to try and get them to associate the command “speak” with barking. To do this, get your dog to bark, and while they are barking, try and get their attention by saying the command “speak”. Repeat the command over and over and once your dog focuses on you saying the command “speak”, immediately reward them with a treat. Ideally once they focus on you after saying the command, they will stop barking. If they do not stop barking, try and distract them and pull them out of the situation that started them to bark in the first place.

Step Three

Repetition is key to teaching your dog to speak or bark on command. Because your dog is already distracted by the situation that is causing them to bark, their brains are already in hyper drive. Be patient, and slowly your dog will start to understand that your command “speak” is associated with their action of barking.

Step Four

Once your dog has associated "speak” with a bark on numerous occasions successfully, stop using the treat or toy as a reward. Now begin to say the word "speak” and when your dog barks praise him with a lot of enthusiasm and petting. If your dog does not seem to understand "speak” without the toy or treat, than the word association has not been firmly connected in your dog’s mind; go back to the toy or treat method again, and practice with your dog frequently.

Helpful Tips

If your dog does not respond to a toy, switch to treats, or vice versa. You want your dog to be extremely excited about getting whatever object is in your hand. Some dogs have a hard time making the association between barking and getting the treat or toy. They may simply give up and walk away or stare at you indefinitely. If your dog really isn’t getting the hang of it, abandon the lesson for the day, without offering the reward and try again the next day.

Behavior Topics
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