Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Why Would I Want to Train My Dog to Bark?
Yes, this article is about teaching your dog to bark on command. A lot of you probably looked at this title and thought it must be some sort of mistake. Most people are more interested in teaching their dogs to stop barking.
Dogs that have been taught to bark on command are less willing to bark without the command. Your dog will look at you to start, wait for the command, and, if you do not give it, usually forget about barking.
How Do I Train My Dog to Bark for Protection?
One of the best descriptions of teaching your dog to bark on command is found in 50 Games to Play With Your Dog, a book written by Suellen Dainty. She wants you to teach your dog to “talk” as a game. I teach this command for another purpose, but the technique she uses is great.
Follow the steps below to teach your dog to bark on command.
The Steps to Training a Guard Dog to Bark on Command
- Have your dog stand/stay. Do not have your dog sit.
- Take his favorite toy and hold it out just in front of his nose, just out of reach.
- Give the command, “speak.”
- As soon as he barks (out of frustration), give him the toy and lots of praise. This is not always an easy trick to teach. Some breeds of dog, like the Sheltie, are great barkers and will perform this immediately. Other dogs will just look at you, assume they cannot have their toy, and stop trying. The only one frustrated is the trainer.
- Try a different toy. Repeat the command and give him a special dog treat each time he performs. You need to give your dog the toy, of course.
- The next time you try this, give the command “Speak,” and when he barks, say “Whisper” in a very quiet voice. Some dogs are very in tune with your wishes and will try to bark differently. If he barks quietly, give him a treat and a “good boy!”
- During another session, hold the toy in front of him but do not say “Speak” or “Whisper.” When he becomes frustrated and barks, say “Quiet,” and when his barking pauses, give him praise and a treat.
- Try all three of these commands twice a day, for no more than five minutes at a time, for about 10 days. At the end of that time, most dogs will perform every time. Do not be angry if barking on command is never part of your dog's repertoire!
A willingness to fetch at an early age is an indication that a puppy will become a good service dog. A willingness to bark on command is a great quality to have in a personal protection dog. It is not a qualification your dog must have for the job, though, but if your dog does learn to bark on command, the rest of your training will go easier.
- 3 Ways to Train a Dog Not to Bark
If you have a new puppy and he is already starting to bark a lot, find out some other techniques that might help him with this problem.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
alleighbrown on July 03, 2019:
Val Swabb from South Carolina on December 08, 2012:
In my experience teaching a dog to bark on command can also cut down on excessive barking, not sure why, but it does. Great article again Dr Mark!
Chen on October 19, 2012:
This is really good information. You break it down so it makes a lot of sense, sometimes it can be so frustrating to try to get a dog to do something new. Great hub!
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 15, 2012:
Hi agilitymach! That is actually why I put the hub together; teaching a dog to bark on command is a great way to make them "look" aggressive, even when they are as sweet as a Sheltie, and have no intention of biting anyone. Thanks for the comment.
DoM, have you started with Sekhmet? She will probably look fierce as a barker. Did you read Mary´s hub on the vitamins? I was thinking about your Vitamin C purchases, since I try to take mine fresh. She mentioned taking garlic tablets too, but I think the results are always better with fresh.
Kristin Kaldahl on September 14, 2012:
I have three shelties and totally agree - teaching them to bark is a breeze. As they were BRED to bark to herd livestock by barking at them (thus annoying them), they are very yappy guys. All of my dogs speak on command but are also quiet on command. A "quiet" command is a must for a sheltie. :)
Fun article. I've found teaching my dogs to bark on command has the added benefit of safety, If I'm out walking my shelties after dark and a stranger comes by that I don't care for, I can make my dogs "bark," and thus look aggressive. It works nicely, even though the dogs are barking for fun - not at anyone. :)
Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on September 14, 2012:
I'm going to have to try this. Sekhmet is definitely a barker, and she seems to learn very quickly. I think we'll start bark training tomorrow! lol :D