How to Train a Dog to Speak

by Susan Paretts
Teach your dog to bark on command with positive reward training.

Teach your dog to bark on command with positive reward training.

barking brown dog image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com

Short, positive training sessions will serve best when you teach your dog to obey various commands. Some examples of commands are "sit," "stay" and "speak." The "speak" command teaches a dog to bark once or twice in response to your verbal cue. Training not only provides mental stimulation for your dog but gives you more control over his behavior. You can combine commands to teach more complicated tricks or tasks, such as "quiet" or "hush" for noisy dogs, after they first understand the command to speak. Use reward-based clicker-training techniques to train your dog to vocalize on your command.

Step 1

Train your dog to associate the sound of a clicker to a reward, using a dog treat. In short, 5- to 10-minute sessions each day, click a training device and give your dog a treat. Wait a minute or so between each click and treat. Continue this training until your dog expects a reward after hearing a click.

Step 2

Say the verbal cue, "speak," then trigger your dog to bark by waving a favorite toy in front of the dog's face but not allowing him to obtain it. Other ways to trigger your dog to bark is by knocking on a wall or door, or by withholding a treat from the dog. Once the dog barks, click the device and give your dog a treat.

Step 3

Train your dog for five to 10 minutes with the clicker and treats each day until he responds to the verbal command to speak by giving you at least one bark without your having to provoke him to bark with anything other than the verbal "speak" command.

Step 4

Teach your dog the "quiet" command to limit the amount of time your dog barks after being given the "speak" command. This further specifies the "speak" command to just a couple barks instead of constant barking for a longer amount of time. Give the dog the command to "speak" triggering him to bark, but don't treat him. Say "quiet" and wait until he is quiet for a few seconds before clicking and treating him. Continue this training giving the commands "speak" and "quiet" during each training session.

Step 5

Command your dog to speak; if he responds with a bark or two at most, click and treat him. If the dog continues to bark more than once or twice, don't click or treat him. Stop his barking with the "quiet" command. Prompt him to speak again, clicking and rewarding only when he barks once or twice in response to your command. Go back and forth between the commands as needed to allow your dog to fully understand what you're expecting of him -- that the speak command calls for one to two barks but not constant barking.

Items You Will Need

  • Clicker
  • Dog treats
  • Dog toy

Tips

  • Begin clicker training your dog in a quiet room with few distractions, to keep his attention focused on you. After your dog has mastered the commands, take him outdoors to see if he responds to your commands in a more distraction-filled environment.
  • To quiet your dog when teaching the "quiet" command, use a treat as a means of calming him if he continuously barks after receiving the "speak" command. Say "quiet" and put the treat in front of his nose; a moment after he stops barking, click and treat him.
  • A friend can help you with this training if your dog refuses to bark during the early stages of training. Have the friend ring your doorbell or knock to provoke your dog to bark. Keep your dog on a leash to focus his attention on you alone so that he does not go running to the door.

Warning

  • Don't use negative training techniques such as punishment, yelling or hitting your dog to train him; this is cruel and it motivates your dog to become aggressive rather than obey your commands.

Photo Credits

  • barking brown dog image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.