How to Teach a Dog to Speak - A 3-Step Guide
Teaching your dog to speak can be a fun trick you, your friends, and your family will love. Not only is this trick fun, but it is also helpful. It is a lot easier to teach a dog to be quiet after teaching them to speak on command. Plus, you can reward your dog for a single bark, which is a lot better than having them bark like crazy all the time. Stick with us, and we will let you know how to teach your dog to speak in these 3 easy steps.
There are two training techniques you can use. Both are positive reinforcement, and we would advise never to use fear or punishment as a training method. It can backfire, and you will end up with a problematic dog.
The method we prefer is clicker training. It is the clearest, and your dog will know exactly what it is you want them to do. That also means you will need a clicker for training.
If you are not familiar with clicker training, check out this article - Clicker training introduction.
The first step to a successful “Speak!” training is to prepare your dog’s favorite treat and your clicker. Hold the treat in your hand but don’t give it to your dog. Play and tease your dog until you “provoke” them enough and they bark. As soon as that happens, you should mark their bark with a click. As usual, after your dog does something you want them to do, you give them a reward.
Some owners might find it challenging to get their dogs to speak. If you have a vocal breed like a Shiba, that shouldn’t be a problem. These dogs are naturally very vocal, and if they don’t get the treat they are expecting, they will bark sooner or later. However, some dogs will not bark simply because you are withholding the treat. If that is your situation, you can always start jumping or running. Teasing your dog will get them excited enough to bark.
After you repeated the first step a few times, and you have successfully marked every dog bark with your clicker, you can start introducing the verbal command “Speak!” Repeat the same process you did with your dog, and at the same time you click your clicker, say the command “Speak!”
Your dog will start associating the action with the command. Pretty soon, you will completely stop using clicker and start only using the command. Your dog should start associating the command with the behavior. Keep in mind that you should always reward your dog after they complete a task successfully. Tasty dog treats will get in handy while training. If you are not sure which dog treas you should use for training, check out this article for some recommendations - Best dog treats.
This might seem like an odd step, but it is necessary. Every time your dog barks, you click, say the command, and give them a treat. However, if you want to teach your dog to use a single bark only, you should start rewarding them only for single barks.
After each time your dog barks, start prolonging the silence. Start by waiting only a second. Slowly increase the time your dog has to remain quiet before getting a reward. That type of learning will teach your dog to speak, but only to bark once to receive a treat. That is also handy because you don’t want to teach your dog to start barking like crazy every time you tell them to speak.
You can repeat these steps as long as your dog needs to completely grasp what you actually want them to do. Some dogs will learn quicker, and some might take a bit more time. With plenty of patience and proper technique, we are sure you will get your dog performing this trick every time you give them the command.
There are a few other things you should think about when teaching your dog to speak. This might be tricky if you live in a building. Your neighbors are close to you, and they will probably have some problems with you teaching your dog to bark on command. Make sure your training sessions are short, and you don’t get on your neighbor’s nerves too much.
You don’t want to end up with a dog that starts barking like crazy. Make sure you only encourage the type of barking that doesn’t fall in the category of nuisance barking. This is a natural behavior for dogs, and if the training instructions are unclear, you can end up with a noisy dog instead of a well-trained one.
Teaching your dog to speak can be used as much more than a trick. When your dog already knows the command, you can redirect it in a helpful manner. With slightly more training, your dog can let you know when they need to go out for a walk. They can be easily taught to “Whisper,” which is barking at a lot lower volume.
Now you know how to teach a dog to speak. Make sure you have enough patience and treats for your dog training. If you are interested in teaching your dog other tricks, this might be an excellent way to start - How to teach a dog to shake?
World Dog Finder team