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Speak (Barking on Command)


Speak can come in handy for many different situations:


  • Teaching a dog to Alert Bark (If you feel an intruder is coming you can command the dog to speak to scare the intruder off)


  • Stop Unwanted Barking - To teach a dog to be quiet it really helps if they know how to speak. By understanding how to speak it is much easier to teach the concept of "quiet"


  • Hiking Trails with Bears and other Critters - Sometimes it is good to have a dog be able to bark to let other creatures know you are coming which gives them time to run away before you surprise them.


  • Lost - If you are lost with your dog, a bark can carry a long ways which will help people searching for you be able to find you and your dog.


There are two main ways that can work to teach your dog to speak with the first one being our most preferred method:


  1. Ensure your dog is hyper and tie them up with a short leash (3 feet for most dogs works). Then make barking noises and try to get the dog riled up. This will usually elicit some kind of noise from the dog which you will then reward with praise and a food reward doesn't hurt either. Keep repeating this until you get a bark out of your dog. This can take several days or weeks for some dogs and some dogs just may never have it in them to bark. Once you can get your dog to bark by making that noise you can then name the command. We will say "Speak" then make the noise and the dog barks and then we reward the dog. We will repeat this over and over until we can just say "Speak" and the dog barks.



  1. Capture the bark - When your dog barks you can praise and reward. If you can find something that will trigger them to bark you can say "speak" and then present the stimulus and when they bark reward them. I for the life of me have not been able to reliably get a dog to bark this way but it does work for some people. An example is knowing that the Doorbell in your house will cause the dog to bark. You can say "Speak" and then ring the doorbell and reward the dog when they bark. We find the dog loses focus and doesn't tend to understand the exercise and gets distracted thinking there is a person at the door.


Teaching Quiet


Once you teach your dog to Speak you will increase barking since the dog is being rewarded for this behaviour. We will then only reward the dog when we ask them to speak. Right after we can say "Quiet" and when they are quiet we will reward many times. Then we will say "Speak" and reward for a bark and then "Quiet" and reward for quiet. We find that this method really helps the dog to understand Quiet much easier as it is the exact opposite of speak.


Alert Barking for the Door or Other Places


If you want your dog to Alert Bark at the door you can say "Speak" when someone approaches the door or rings the doorbell. This will be different for everyone. Then you can say "Quiet" and hope that your dog understands. If they do not you can wait till they are quiet and reward or you can correct the barking with something like a squirt of Bitter Apple Spray. This can help teach your dog that you want them to bark once (or twice or three times) and then be quiet.


Keep in mind that if you keep things black and white such as:


  • Always allowed to bark


  • Never allowed to bark


That is the easiest for the dog to understand. By having a grey area (sometimes allowed to bark and sometimes not) is harder for the dog to understand so it will take more time and patience to teach this. You will need to decide what rules you want for your dog to bark. Some people never want their dog to bark and some people like them to bark a lot.

Here are two different scenarios we have done:


  • Rescue - In the city our Husky / Coyote cross was not allowed to bark in the house or outside. However he could bark outside if we were playing with him because he liked to be vocal in his play and we saw no harm in allowing that.


 

  • Our German Shepherd needs to help protect our place and keep dangerous coyotes away from coming in to attack our less capable Husky / Coyote cross (already had one occurrence where 2 coyotes came into the yard to lure him off while I was home moving a car and in the middle of the day - brazen little buggers). So here are the rules for our German Shepherd barking:

 

  • At home when someone comes to the door she has to bark.


  • At home if someone comes in unannounced she definitely has to bark.


  • If I am away and it is just my wife home there will be even more barking and I feel sorry for the poor sap who tries to cause my wife any harm.


  • At home if I know someone is coming to the door I will tell her to go to her bed and she has to be quiet when the guest comes in.


  • Outside if someone comes into the yard I want her to bark.


  • Outside if I know someone is coming into the yard I will have her work or focus with me and she has to be quiet.


  • When we are working with a dog or people outside that she has never met before she has to come outside and be quiet.


As you can see you can place many different rules on barking. You need to decide what your rules are going to be. Just know that once you start down the road of allowing barking there is a lot of time that goes into training to fully understand the rules. If your dog already barks like crazy then no worries there, it will help speed up the "Quiet" training a lot faster.