German Shepherds are natural herders. In fact, the reason why this breed was first discovered was…
If you own a dog, training your dog to speak and quiet are very useful commands that are easy to teach any dog. For vocal dog breeds like the German Shepherd, training your dog to speak, actually helps in teaching them how to be quiet.
Teaching your dog the watch me command is also useful to help get your dog’s attention for training sessions.
Before we step into this discussion, lets first discuss what these commands are about.
What Is the Speak Command?
Teaching your dog to speak essentially means training it when to bark and how to control excessive barking.
My German Shepherd Allie has always been a barking machine. She will literally bark at a plastic bag blowing in the wind outside. When you are on an important phone call the last thing you want is your dog going off in the background.
What Is the Quiet Command?
This is the opposite of the “speak” command and involves getting your dog to stop barking on command. By teaching your dog to speak you can actually cure a barking problem.
If you own a German shepherd, you just cannot skip the quiet command. Those guys are extraordinarily talkative.
I found that after teaching Allie the speak command, the quiet command was easier for her to learn.
Benefits of Teaching Your Dog to Speak and Quiet
Firstly, it is extremely important to keep both you and your pet’s sanity intact. Believe me, they don’t like barking excessively either.
Dogs often bark for a reason. If you have young children, you know how frustrating it is when they cry and you can’t figure out why. Same is the case when dogs bark for long periods.
Secondly, while the majority of the population adores dogs there is a segment of people who don’t. For instance, your boss may not like dogs that bark incessantly. So, teaching your dog to speak and quiet on command can be handy if you work from home or conduct business from home.
Third, when your dog has mastered these commands, you can teach it more complicated speech behaviors, such as barking to go out or if someone is at the front door.
Lastly and most importantly, this training allows you to better manage your dog’s behavior and for safety. If it barks all the time, it is hard to know when the bark is actually important. You wouldn’t want to ignore a bark alerting you to an intruder in the house because your dog barks so often you just tune the barks out.
Steps To Teaching The Speak Command
I recommend teaching your dog the speak command first. Before teaching your dog a new command, you should always decide which word you are going to use without sounding too similar to other cues.
In this situation, words like “talk”, “bark” or “speak” are commonly used. So, if you’ve already decided on a word, let’s get right to the steps.
Step 1: Get Your Furball Yapping
First, you should get your dog to bark. Create a situation in which your dog usually barks. Get your dog excited!
Step 2: Mark The Behavior
The moment your dog barks – mark it with a treat and praise it. Remember not to praise excessive barking, and try to catch a single bark before giving a treat.
Step 3: Use Your Cue Word
Now, it’s time to add the cue word. Repeat the first steps, but this time say the word “speak” (or whatever word you chose) and give the treat. You can also add a visual signal to help your dog learn this command faster.
Step 4: Praise And Practice
When your dog is able to relate a word with barking, it’s time to say the command by itself. Make sure that you say the command only once and offer a reward as soon as your dog barks.
Repeat the same thing for a few days until your pup masters the command.
Steps To Teaching The Quiet Command
If your dog already knows how to bark on command, then teaching it the “quiet” command will be quite simple. Again, pick a suitable word, like “quiet”, and start working with your dog.
Step 1: Get Your Dog To Bark
Get your dog to bark, or give him the speak command.
Step 2: Use Your Quiet Command Cue And Treat
The moment your dog barks, say the word you’ve chosen for the quiet command and show a treat.
If it stops barking, you can give it the treat. If not, try sticking the treat in front of its nose so it has to sniff it and stop barking – then give it the treat.
Step 3: Practice And Increase The Time
Practice the first two steps with gradually increasing the time of showing the treat, until your dog makes no mistake.
Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect
Now that your dog obeys the quiet command in a calm environment, it’s time to practice it in a real-life situation.
For example, get someone to ring the doorbell – or another situation that your dog usually barks in – and always be ready with a treat.
As soon as your dog starts barking say “quiet” – or the word of your choice – and give it a treat. Be patient and repeat this step as long as it takes for your dog to master it.
Gradually, phase out the treats once the learned behavior comes naturally to your pup.
Here is a video that helps demonstrate these commands in visual form:
Every dog owner should consider training their dog the speak and quiet commands. With a talkative GSD, I am so glad I taught Allie this command early on, you never know when it will come in handy.
Hope you will find as much use out of these commands as I have. Happy training!