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How to teach a dog to speak? A complete guide for the pet parent

White and brown dog speaking advice
© Shutterstock

Many dog owners have a hilarious time when teaching their dogs to "speak" (or bark) on cue. Usually, pets tend to bark because they feel like it, but imagine if you could make your dog speak with a specific verbal cue?

By Daniel Mar

Updated on the 19/12/2019, 15:23

Not only is this a fun trick which you can show family and friends, but it makes your relationship with your dog even better.  So why should you know how to teach a dog to speak? The answer is quite simple actually.

Barking is very important to a dog. It helps to ward off intruders and alert you of any potential danger. However, excessive barking is a huge problem. That is why it is important to teach dogs about the speak/quiet commands. Even though barking is a natural instinct, your dog needs to learn when he should be quiet. So, in this article, you will learn how to train your dog to bark on command, and to be quiet on command.

How to train a dog to be quiet?

Before learning how to teach a dog to speak on command, it’s a good idea to start with the quiet cue. This comes in handy when your dog is a fan of barking a lot! So, follow the next steps and prepare to see some shocking results:

  • First, you must create a situation that will make your dog bark. If you knock on the door or ring the doorbell, that should do the trick. You can also try to play with your dog. Excitement can induce barking.
  • Second, get his attention. You can do this by holding up a toy or treat.
  • Third, only after the barking stops, give your dog the toy or dog treat.
  • Continue to repeat steps 1-3 but gradually wait for long periods of silence each time before surrendering the treat or toy.
  • You should also choose one simple word for the “quiet” command. It should be easy to remember and used consistently. Try words like "enough" or "quiet".
  • After you have mastered steps 1-3, you can begin to use the cue word. While your dog is barking, say your “quiet” cue. Use a firm, audible and high voice while holding up the reward at the same time. Remember, only when your dog stops barking should you give him the reward.
  • Finally, practice the "quiet" cue frequently. Anytime you feel that your dog is excessively barking, you can use the quiet command.

How to train a dog to speak?

how to teach a dog to speak
How can you make your dog speak? © Shutterstock

Only after your dog is really good with the "quiet" command, then you can move onto the bark command. In order to train your dog to bark, follow these steps:

  • Like with the “quiet” command, choose one simple word for the “bark” command. Among the best choices, you can find “speak", "bark" or simply "talk". Nonetheless, you are free to come up with your own word as long as it is simple and easy to remember! Also, the cue word cannot sound too much like any other cue word you use or your dog's name.
  • As with the previous command, you have to start by getting your dog to bark naturally.
  • Once you have found something that will make your dog bark reliably, you should say the bark cue right before getting him to bark.
  • Praise him by giving him a treat or toy.
  • Repeat this method several times until your dog gets it.

More tips to keep in mind!

  • Any rewards you use to teach your dog to speak should be immediate and very valuable to him. Teaching a dog to speak is not simple! So you need to properly motivate your pet. By any means possible, you need to make the action "worth it". You can use small liver treats, chicken, or or even his absolute favourite toy for this purpose.
  • Some dog owners prefer to teach "speak" first, rather than "quiet". Others like to teach both commands together. It is up to you! 
  • Don’t forget to be patient but consistent. Both of these commands can take weeks to learn.
  • Do not reward your dog unless he does exactly what you want him to.
  • Avoid teaching “speak” to puppies until he/she develops the ability and desire to bark.
  • Using the clicker training method can also be a great instrument to train your dog to speak or be quiet.
  • Remember to keep training sessions short and sweet so that your dog doesn't get bored or tired. Do not exceed 5 minutes per training session.

Teaching a dog to speak might be challenging but worth it. Every pet parent likes a disciplined dog! The “quiet” and “speak” commands are very useful. So, what are you waiting for? Its time for you to become a master dog trainer!