Difficulty: Easy Prerequisite: None Items Needed: Clicker, Treats
Congratulations! You are halfway done learning 52 tricks! To celebrate, here's an easy trick to teach your dog, one which is both useful and beneficial for learning more complex tricks later on. Getting your dog to speak—to bark on command—is an easy thing to do, and can have many great advantages. It's definitely a trick worth teaching, since you can do lots of things with it, such as training your dog to bark at strangers, learning to count (Trick #43), or growling. One great reason to teach your dog to bark on command, is that by teaching him to bark, you may actually cure a barking problem. You can teach this trick in such a way so that your dog only barks when you give him the command, which can be extremely beneficial for those with problem dogs (and not to mention much less expensive than an anti-barking collar).
Step 1: Get your dog to bark. For example, if you know that your dog barks when the doorbell is rung, then ring the bell, and when he barks say "Speak" and click and treat. Step 2: After repeating this several times, try giving him the command (Speak). If he obeys and barks, give him a jackpot.
We were really anxious to teach Caspian how to count (Trick #43), so we delved right into this trick when he was just a puppy. In training him, we used things like knocking on the door, or ringing the doorbell to make him bark, but we also caught the behavior when he barked naturally. Now, we usually have him sit first before giving him the speak command, just so that he is paying attention and ready to speak.
My dog never barks, how can I teach him to speak? If your dog doesn't bark very often, take extra time to figure out ways to teach your dog. Notice when your dog makes any growling noise, however slight. Click and treat for these small things and once your dog can make these little 'yips' on command, ask more of him by clicking and treating only when he growls louder. Become pickier by clicking and treating only when you are satisfied with the way it sounds.
Tip: "Use this trick to teach your dog to count!"