How to Teach your dog to Speak

if you want to know how to teach your dog to speak then you have come to the right blog! I can’t believe it, but I actually managed to teach our Patterdale terrier how to speak on command in just one day! He is very intelligent and also very vocal. Here’s how you can train your dog to speak on command.

It’s easier with a vocal dog!

As I’ve mentioned, my terrier Blake is very barky, and he also makes other strange sounds including a variety of growls and cries! It’s much easier to to teach your dog to speak if you already have quite a vocal dog. Of course, the first step is to make your dog bark, and so if you have a dog that never barks or does so rarely, that is going to make it very difficult.

How to Teach your dog to Speak – Step by Step

  1. Get your dog to bark
  2. Add the command
  3. Reward
  4. Repeat

It’s very simply really – first you need to get your dog barking. Now Blake is a very barky dog, and so all we had to do was wave our arms in the air and jump around a little and that started off his barking! Then we told him the command ‘speak’ every time he barked. When he was doing it we then added a reward which was his favourite grain free dog treats. We then repeated it again with less movement from us and more of a focus on the command. After just 5/6 times we could calm down completely and he was already doing it on command!

We then left it a while (about an hour) and repeated it again and after a couple of time he’d got it. The very next day he did it first time! Keep up with the rewards for at least 3-5 days when he/she follows the command. Then after this amount of time, he will probably bark on command even without treats!

Add the Hand Movement!

Hand gestures and instructions are great for dogs because they allow the dog to focus on their owner and also they continue to work well if your dog becomes hard of hearing. After a few times, we added the hand movement for speak (start with an open hand, palm facing the dog, then repeatedly closing your 4 fingers against your thumb). Again in just a couple of days he could do it from the hand movement alone – we didn’t even need to say ‘speak’ in the end!

You can also use this to Teach your dog to Stop Barking!

The idea behind this training is that once you have mastered the ‘speak’ command you have control over your dogs barking. Therefore theoretically, you should be able to teach your dog to ‘shush’ as well. However, being able to stop your dog from barking does of course depend on the dog.

To start training your dog to ‘shush’ you need to get him repeatedly barking using the speak command. The when you stop giving the command and the barking stops follow it with ‘shush’. You can also add in the shush hand signal – the one I use is flat hands overlapping and then strike them both outwards like the ‘enough’ signal. Repeat this a few times until the command sticks.

If your dog has enough self control, you can then try this in situations when you want your dog to stop barking, such as when you’ve had enough of him barking at visitors or the postman! But this kind of barking is a terrier’s instinct so it may not be fool proof!

If you have a very barky dog you can read more in our article on Patterdale Terrier barking.

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