Learning how to teach a dog to speak might seem frivolous, but it is an essential part of housebreaking. An enthusiastic puppy woofing around the house in all hours of the day might seem adorable at first. But it’ll get annoying quickly, and your neighbors will start to complain.
That is why you need to teach a dog to speak. Sounds counterproductive? It isn’t. Because I’ll give you an idea of how to keep a dog quiet as well. Once the disciplining is done, your dog will know the importance of staying quiet and barking in the right moments.
Of course, barking is a natural instinct, and you can’t make your dog stay quiet all the time. That’ll be as inhumane as making a human stay quiet unless prompted to talk. So your dog will still bark, but hopefully it’ll be toned down at a manageable level.
Why You Need to Train a Dog to Speak
Contrary to what other dog parents might’ve made you believe, teaching a dog to speak when you say “Daisy, speak!”, isn’t just a party trick. It comes in handy in providing you protection as well. Imagine, you’re walking your dog late at night and see a suspicious stranger approaching you.
If you’ve trained your dog to speak, upon your command he will start barking, which will scare the stranger away. Similarly, if you notice an intruder approaching your house, you can prompt your dog to bark. While committing burglary, crooks tend to be wary of a house that has one or multiple dogs.
Lastly, this training is a base on which you can keep building other good habits. Such as, barking when the dog needs to go out for potty or when somebody is at the door. Similarly, you can also teach your dog to speak softly, or teach him commands to stay quiet.
How Do You Teach a Dog to Speak?
The process I’m going to describe today is simply teaching your dog to speak and stay quiet by positive reinforcement. There certainly is no need to punish your dog either for speaking or not speaking when you want him. Love, patience and ample treats would do the trick.
What You’ll Need
- Bark trigger
- Helping hand
- 15 minutes of your time
1. Train Dog to Stay Quiet
Just like how you need to learn how to float before you learn to swim, your dog needs to learn how to stay quiet before he learns how to speak. Learning this procedure is also important in case your dog is fond of barking at odd times, like after midnight, for example! You can use this command to keep your dog quiet to make sure your neighbors sleep well.
- First, hide a treat behind your back and create a situation that prompts your dog to start barking. You know your dog best, so you’d know if ringing the doorbell, someone calling his name from outside the window, or hearing another dog bark does the trick. Make use of this trigger.
- Second, once he’s barking, briefly look at the cause (the door, the window or the other dog) and then look back at him again. When he stops barking, reward him with a treat. You can even show your appreciation by praises and pets.
- Third, repeat these two steps and each time, wait a little more after he stops barking to give him the treat. He’ll soon catch on that staying silent is what’s getting him the treat.
- Fourth, once your dog is used to this exercise, start incorporating a cue word like “quiet”, or “enough”. Say the cue word as he’s barking and give him the treat after he stops.
- Do not yell the cue word at him, just saying it in a firm and calm voice will suffice.
- Practice this exercise everyday for 15 minutes. Progress might be slow and your dog may take weeks to learn this, be patient.
- Make sure the cue word does not sound like your dog’s name.
2. Train Dog to Speak
Now that you’ve gotten the hang of training your dog on how to stay quiet, training him to speak would be a walk in the park! Take a look at the steps:
- First, prompt him to start barking by using one of the triggers.
- Second, as soon as he starts barking, say the cue word such as “Speak”, “Talk”, or “Bark” in an upbeat voice. Then give him the treat. You can even start saying the cue as you recognize the signs that he’s about to start barking.
- Third, like the earlier exercise, also repeat this a few times till your dog gets the idea.
Make sure the ‘speak’ cue and ‘silent’ cue do not sound similar. Practice them both, so your dog can clearly differentiate between them. After a while, once your dog has mostly gotten the hang of you, you can do this exercise without treats. If you’re doing things right, your dog will start to speak on prompt in a few weeks.
You can then show off your knowledge on how to teach a dog to speak in front of friends and family. Additionally, I’d also suggest you do this exercise in different situations (in presence of other people, other dogs or pets) and in different locations (the park, the vet’s office) so you’re prepared for any eventualities.
How to Teach Your Dog to Speak Softly
Training your dog to talk is all fun and games until he starts to bark at the top of his lungs at your prompting. While you may see it as a minor nuisance, your neighbors might not think such charitable thoughts. So, now it’s time to teach your pup to speak using his indoor voice.
The idea of indoor voice is hard to teach even children, so you might need to spend quite a few weeks behind training. But the steps are quite similar to teaching your dog to speak and stay silent.
- First, use a barking trigger to get your dog to speak and start by giving him a treat when he does so.
- Second, incorporate the cue “whisper” into the training.
- Next, only reward him when the volume of the bark is lower.
- Gradually, start giving him treats when his barking volume goes lower and lower till the volume is acceptable for indoors.
- Lastly, try the whisper cue without treats.
All throughout these exercises, don’t forget one thing: never reward unwanted and unprompted barking. Give him a treat only when you have prompted him using a barking trigger. Also do not reward him if he keeps barking non-stop, no matter how adorable you think it is.
On the other hand, when your dog does act the way you’re trying to get him to act, don’t forget to show enthusiasm! You should use a treat he absolutely loves and you only give him rarely. After he completes the task, clap, pet him, jump around and play tug or fetch with his favorite toys.
Is It a Good Idea to Teach a Puppy to Speak
It is always the best idea to start training puppies when they’re young as they learn fast and well. With some patience, you can even train a pit bull puppy to speak, speak in his indoor voice and keep quiet. When done properly, it is fun, though not absolutely necessary.
However, in cases where a dog is prone to excessive barking, teaching him to speak might exacerbate the situation. If the training is done properly, your dog will mostly speak only on cue, and go quiet when you prompt him. But if your dog is prone to problematic barking, for example, late at night, you shouldn’t just depend on this training.
Instead, look for reasons as to why your dog is barking throughout the night. Is he hungry? Is his kennel too drafty? Does he want to come inside and sleep next to your bed? Have you checked your dog for any diseases that are causing him pain?
After you’ve ruled out these issues, your dog’s troublesome barking should tamp down to some extent. In fact, sometimes all these, including training, might not help to keep your dog quiet. You might need a dog trainer’s help as well.
“Woof” Means “I love you” in Puppy Language
Now that you’ve reached all the way down here, you know how to teach a dog to speak, also how to teach him to stay quiet. If you’re about to go and get started with the training, let me remind you of some key points:
- Do not reward unprompted barking
- Don’t make the cue words sound similar to each other or dog’s name
- Aside from cue words, you can also use a clicker to train
What are you waiting for? Go and teach your precious puppy to speak and then report back to me how the training went!