Dog Training 101: How to Train Your Dog to Speak

Teaching your dog to speak on command is a fun way to communicate.  It’s best that he knows a couple other tricks beforehand.  You can read the previous articles to teach your dog how to sit, shake, lie down, and roll over if your dog doesn’t know any tricks already.  Or you could take him to a basic dog training class, or even dog obedience school.


Step 1:

I find it easiest to have your dog sit and stay first.  When he is sitting, hold a treat in your hand.  You will have your dog’s full attention. Sometimes your dog will run up to you; that is why it is important to have him stay.


Step 2:

Next, say ‘Speak’ firmly.  Your dog will not know what to do yet, but he will know you are trying to teach him something.  This is why it’s important to teach him some other tricks first.


Step 3:


Most of the time, your dog will go through other tricks he learned before in an effort to get the treat: lie down, shake, roll over, etc.  It’s important not to give him any treats.  Try to stay completely still.  If he loses interest because he has not yet got a result, say ‘Speak’ another time to get his attention again.  


Step 4:


Eventually, he will make some sort of vocalization to communicate with you that he’s confused and wants the treat.  He will grunt, squeak, or bark.  At that point, give him a treat and say ‘Good boy!’  


Step 5:


Repeat.  The second time, he will probably go through his other tricks again, until he makes another vocalization.  It should be faster than the first.  Give him another treat as soon as he makes a sound.
After a couple times, your dog should begin to grasp onto what ‘Speak’ means, and his bark in response to your command will get much easier and consistent. 


Beyond being impressive, teaching your dog to speak will actually make him bark less when you don’t want him to.  This is because you are associating his bark with a command.  He will wait for the command before he barks in future, because he knows when he hears the word ‘Speak!’ he will get a treat, whereas if he barks on his own he won’t.


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