Teaching tricks is a great way for dog owners to have fun with their dogs. Tricks are best taught using positive reinforcement and the behavioral procedure called “shaping” where successive approximations to a desired behavior are reinforced.
Here is a trick that lends itself to being taught at home because it will most likely involve the owner getting the dog wound up in a play session so that he will start barking.
How to Teach Your Dog to Bark on Cue (“Speak”)
I decided that I would teach my dog, Wyn, to “speak” on cue. I knew that even though Wyn was not a noisy dog, I could run and chase (especially in the house) causing him to bark up a storm. I took advantage of one of our rowdy play sessions to teaching Wyn to respond to the verbal cue and corresponding hand signal for “speak!”
The secret to teaching this trick is to get your dog to bark so that you can reward the bark and put this behavior on cue.
1. Have your treats ready in your pocket or treat bag.
Selecting a food reward. The selection of the treat you use for your dog is an important part of the training process. Treats should not be so large that they take a long time for the dog to eat them or that they fill up the dog quickly. In training, when you will be using food as a lure or giving repeated food rewards to teach a skill, you also don’t want the treat to be too chewy. Otherwise, you will spend your time waiting for the dog to chew. Treats need to be a preferred treat such as a tasty treat from Tricky Trainers. Tricky Trainers has a variety of treats that are small, soft treats that are perfect for teaching new skills.
2. Play a game, or jump and run around with the dog so that the dog gets excited enough to bark.
3. As soon as the dog barks, immediately say, “good Speak’”, “Yes!” or whatever word you want to use to mark the behavior. If you are skilled at using a clicker you could also click to mark the correct behavior.
4. Give the dog a treat immediately after you say “good Speak!”, “Yes!” or whatever your marker word is. You could also click, then treat.
5. When your dog will bark on cue when you say “Speak” you can replace the word with a hand signal. The hand signal for “speak” is usually starting with an open hand, palm facing the dog, and then repeatedly closing your 4 fingers against your thumb.
The Canine Good Citizen Program is sponsored by Geico