How to Train Your Dog to Bark

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

So you’ve got the family and friends over, the drinks are flowing and unfortunately for you, the conversation has turned to party tricks. John can do a perfect impression of Donald Trump and Susan can whistle the Game of Thrones theme tune perfectly. You, on the other hand, aren’t so musical, but there is one thing you do have, your dog!

Teaching your dog to bark on cue is a neat little party trick that is guaranteed to get a giggle. Everyone can get their dog to lie down and roll over, but getting them to speak is far more entertaining. There are also times when it could come in useful, if you’re walking late at night and you want to feel safe and secure, a barking dog is guaranteed to keep potential threats at bay. 

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to speak is actually surprisingly straightforward. It will consist mainly of teaching him obedience commands with a rigorous reward program. The most challenging part is setting aside the time each day to train. If your dog is just a puppy though, he will be eager to learn and may be barking on cue in just a week or two. If your dog is older and thinks his schooling days are over, then you may need more like three weeks before you find success.

Getting this training right will be a fun little trick to show friends and may even come in useful from time to time. The other advantage it brings, is that the more obedience training you do with your dog, the easier it will be to train him other commands too.

Getting Started

Before your house becomes noisy, you will need to get together a few bits. The most important component will be food or treats. You will use these to incentivise and reward him. You will also need a relatively quiet space, free from distractions and in a spot where you won’t send the neighbors crazy over the next few weeks.

The only other thing you need is 15 minutes a day, a good degree of patience, and a positive attitude. Once you’ve got all of the above you’re ready to bring your dog’s voice box to life.

The Bring Out the Bark Method

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Bring Out the Bark method for Bark
Step
1
Pay attention
Look for a situation that usually encourages your dog to bark. Before you can train him to bark on command you need to find a way to get him to bark of his own accord. For some dogs, going out for a walk will encourage barking behavior, for others playing with their favorite toy out of their reach will do the trick.
Step
2
Identify trigger
Once you’ve identified a trigger, be ready with a pocket full of treats. If playing with a ball out of his reach does the trick, then get the ball and begin to play.
Step
3
Introduce command
Just before you think he is about to bark, say ‘speak’ in a clear and firm voice. Then continue with the behavior and wait to hear that deafening sound.
Step
4
Reward!
Reward him with a treat and verbal praise as soon as he barks. It’s important he gets the treat within a few seconds of barking otherwise he won’t associate the reward with the behavior. Continue practicing this for 15 minutes for the next few days.
Step
5
Reduce treats
As he begins to bark on cue, cut down the frequency of treats and use the command in normal day to day situations. You want to now check he can bark even when you aren’t encouraging him to in a trigger situation. If you have been practicing everyday he will probably already have picked up the behavior and be eager to shout for the promise of a treat. As he becomes more responsive, slowly reduce how often you give him treats until he barks even without the promise of food.
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The Quiet then Speak Method

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Quiet then Speak method for Bark
Step
1
Trigger barking
Create a situation that will make him bark naturally. You could get his food out, many dogs go crazy when they know a meal is coming. By training him to be quiet first, it will be easier to train him to bark on command too.
Step
2
Introduce 'quiet' command
When he does start barking, say ‘quiet’ and hold up the treat to get his attention. It is important you get his attention with the treat before you give the ‘quiet’ command.
Step
3
Reward
When he stops barking, quickly give him the treat and shower him with praise. Repeat this training for 15 minutes each day until your dog responds to the ‘quiet’ command whatever the excitable situation. As he responds to the training, slowly reduce the frequency of treats until the verbal command alone does the job.
Step
4
Teach the 'bark'
Get your dog into an excitable situation, such as taking him out for a walk and then say ‘bark’ just before you think he is about to bark. It is important to try and get the timing right, you want there to be a short a gap as possible between the command and the bark. The shorter the gap the quicker he will make the connection.
Step
5
Reward
Quickly give him a treat and show him he’s done a good job with verbal praise. Practice this training for 15 minutes each day and as he gets the hang of it, cut down the frequency of treats and practice the verbal command when he isn’t in an already excitable state. Once he has mastered both commands separately, you will be also to silence him and have him speak depending on the occasion.
Recommend training method?

The Body Language Method

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Body Language method for Bark
Step
1
Prepare with treats
Get his favorite food or treat and take him to a quiet room, free from distractions. It is important you use a treat/food he doesn’t just like, but genuinely loves. This will bring out a bark in much less time.
Step
2
Tempt
Hold the treat in front of his face and play with it but make sure he doesn’t actually get it. While you are doing this, pay close attention to his behavior and body language.
Step
3
Encourage barking
As soon as you see his ears drop back and his eyes focus on you, give him a treat and some verbal praise. This is a good sign that he is about to bark, so a treat at this point will encourage him on the path to barking again. The first couple of times it may take 5 minutes before you get the reaction you want as some dogs aren’t natural barkers, so be patient!
Step
4
Reward barking
This time wait for him to actually bark, then say ‘speak’ and swiftly give him a treat and praise. Keep practicing this and try to give the ‘speak’ command at the same time or even before he barks. Soon he will associate the command as a cue to bark.
Step
5
Practice
Practice for 15 minutes a day until he has the hang of it, then slowly reduce the frequency of treats. Then try commanding your dog to bark in a variety of different situations to ensure he fully understands. Continue with the training until he barks without the promise of food.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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