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How to Teach Your Dog to Talk

Learn the ultimate dog trick -- how to make your dog a talking dog -- from professional dog trainer Andrea Arden in this Howcast dog training video.


Teaching your dog to speak, bark, or talk is something you really want to think about whether or not you want to do. If your dog is not experienced at training and the training game, it's something you might want to wait a little bit to do, because as a trainer and a dog owner I will attest to the fact that I really have spent years not encouraging, or not accidentally rewarding, my dog for being vocal. Most of us want our dogs to be quiet. So before you get started on this, consider whether or not you want to be rewarding your dog for whining, crying, or barking. Again, an experienced dog will understand that you only want them doing this behavior on cue.

I'm going to shape this behavior with Jack. I personally don't want barking, so I don't want a loud speak. I want something a little bit more along the lines of singing. So to prevent him from offering whining, crying, and barking at times I don't want it, I've decided to have a very particular set up. I'm only going to train this behavior when I am sitting in an office chair with my fingers pointed in a very particular way so that he doesn't start offering this behavior at random times, getting excited about it.

So I have my treats. I'm ready to go with those. I have my clicker. That's my way of precisely communicating to him what he's doing right and what he's getting a reward for. I'm going to have him sit down in front of me, and I'm going to point my fingers like this, looking for any sound he might make, as subtle as it might be. So he's making little sounds. I might even look for a little lip movement if I wasn't getting any actual sounds. I discovered if I look away from Jack, he's more apt to whine, so instead of looking at him, I look away, and he whines, and that's what I'm trying to capture and shape.

As time goes on, I'm going to ask for a little bit more. I'm going to look for a little volume, a little duration, and a little variation in the vocalizations he's offering. Nice. So I got a little more duration, along with volume, on that one. Good job, Jack. Let's see if we can get a little bit more volume or variation. Good job, Jack. He's well on his way to understanding that when I cue him, sitting in this chair with my fingers pointed up, maybe a little motion there, like a conductor, that I'd like him to make sounds. Good.

So we're well on our way to him understanding the sing or talk or speak behavior. I didn't get any barks this session. I was really excited about that. The best way to keep this training positive for your dog is to keep your sessions short and positive and end with a really good response so that they're having a good time. Take a break and come back to it, and you'll see that you can easily build to the point where your dog might just sing an aria. We're going to try one more time. Beautiful, Jack. Good job. Good job, buddy.

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