Your pooch may not be reciting you poems or passages from your favorite Kindle book, but teaching a dog to “speak” on command can be a fun and rewarding trick; which can even be turned into a useful skill later, like alerting you to visitors at the door. Plus, it’s really not all that difficult. Read on, to discover our step-by-step guide to teaching your dog to speak.
Learn to “Quiet” First!
It may seem counter-productive to tell your dog to “quiet” when teaching them to “speak” but experts recommend to do so, especially if you have a breed that is prone to being very vocal.
To make this lesson the most effective, be sure you always have a special treat on hand for your pooch, one that he or she truly desires. This can include: cooked chicken, bits of apple, carrots, green beans, or even small pieces of dog treats specifically designed for training, or its favorite toy.
Step 1. Wait for your dog to bark, when this happens capture its attention by clapping your hands or whistling.
Step 2. Once your dog looks at you, say “quiet” or “hush.” When he responds give him a treat.
Step 3. Repeat each time your dog barks for 2 to 3 days to ensure he has mastered the quiet command.
Initiating the Command to Speak
Once your pooch has mastered the “quiet” command, it’s time to move on to “speak.” For this session you will need your dog’s favorite treat or toy and he or she will also have to be sitting in front of you.
Step 1. Get your dog’s attention. This can be done by speaking its name in a happy tone. Once the dog responds, show it the toy or food treat, but be sure to keep it out of his/her reach.
Step 2. Say “speak” in a firm, yet happy tone. If your dog doesn’t respond by a bark, repeat the command again. Most dog’s will bark when their favorite treat is being withheld, if this doesn’t work, then try a different stimulus such as knocking on a wall or the floor.
Step 3. When your dog does respond with a bark/speak reward it with the treat or toy then try again. If your dog continues to bark or barks more than once, don’t reward and give the “quiet” command again.
Step 4. Practice this for a few minutes being sure to reinforce the one bark/speak and using the “quiet” command for two or more consecutive barks.
Reinforcing the Command, Not the Reward
After your dog has mastered the “speak” command, it’s time to start reducing the amount of rewards and to change up the location.
Step 1. Start practicing “speak” without showing your dog the toy or treat. If your dog doesn’t respond with a bark, then re-introduce the toy or treat. Once you feel he/she may understand, practice the “speak” command without the reward present. If your dog responds with a bark, reward with praise and a pat on the head.
Step 2. Continue the above step until your dog is speaking on command.
Step 3. Try different locations like a friend’s house or the park and be sure to reward with praise, a pat or even the occasional food tidbit.
Step 4. Move on to teaching your dog to speak at different circumstances like a knock at the door. Have someone go outside and knock at the door. Have them give the speak-command and if your dog responds with one bark, reward with food or toy. This action may take some persistence and practice, but your pooch will soon grasp the concept.
Like people all dogs learn at a different pace, so be patient and continue to work with your pooch on a daily basis. Never hit, yell or create fear and stress in your dog as this will have the opposite effect on its personality and training capabilities. A your dog continues to learn and excel at these basic commands, you will be well on your way to mastering the more difficult ones. However, your canine companion will most likely never be able to read you a bedtime story…at least not one you’d be able to understand.