July-September, 2002

Teaching the "Speak" command

I believe it is important to teach your dog a "Quiet" command. To do this, you must teach a "Speak" command first.

Find something your dog wants (treats, food, toy). Entice the dog with the object, increasing the dog's desire for it. Hold it above the dog's head and ask the dog to "Speak." In the beginning, an exasperated exhale, squeak, grumble or noise should be considered good behavior. Reward that exhale or other vocalization with treats, petting and praise. Repeat until the dog shows enthusiasm and barks. When the dog barks, give a big reward (treats or play session).

If there are occasions where your dog barks regularly, use these situations in your training by asking the dog to speak. For example, if your dog barks when the doorbell rings, say "Speak" and then ring the doorbell. When the dog barks, reward by giving praise and a treat. Repeat until you can phase out the doorbell or other stimuli. Behaviors like "Speak" are easier to train because it's something your dog already does naturally.

Teaching the "Quiet" command

  1. Put the dog on leash.
  2. Ask the dog to "Speak," and when he does, give a treat.
  3. Do this 4-6 times in a row.
  4. Then ask to the dog to be "Quiet." When your dog barks, quickly tug the leash and say "No!" "Quiet, good!" Very quickly give 3 treats in a row. The dog learns quiet has a high value reward.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the dog doesn't need a leash correction. Do this 4-6 times in a row. Take a play break.

As the dog progresses, don't give any treats for "Speak", but give 1 treat for "Quiet".

For some tips on keeping your dog cool during the summer months, go to:



Whenever possible, your dog will try to get away with as much as possible. If you start to slack off with obedience practice, your dog will soon forget all the commands you've taught him. It is better to practice five minutes a day than to randomly do it every few weeks. When your dog behaves perfectly on a consistent basis, then you can start to get a little lazy. But if you notice a bit of attitude or stubbornness, get right back into a routine of practicing obedience before things go too far and are harder to fix later. Here are a few tips on how to practice obedience with your dog.

  • Don't repeat commands more than twice.
  • Use his name first, then the command.
  • Take your time. Most dogs, especially young ones, are already in an excited state. Teach them to relax and slow down.
  • Do obedience with the dog on your left side, not in front or behind you. By having him in a consistent position, you can be more aware if he's creeping ahead or lagging behind. It's also easier to correct a dog that is at your side, rather than being slightly ahead or behind you.
  • Praise your dog when he is in the correct position, even if you had to physically had to help him into the position.
  • Use a low, firm tone of voice.
  • Pick a release command, such as "Okay!" to let him know when he is done with a command.
  • There should be a clear separation between giving a command and giving a correction. Give the command. Wait three seconds. Then correct him, if necessary. If your dog waits until you start to give a correction before doing the command, follow through with the correction anyway. Otherwise you will continually have to start to correct before the dog performs the command, rather than the dog automatically performing the behavior when he hears the command.

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