How To Teach Your Dog To Bark On Command

A useful trick to teach your dog to wow an audience, find a lost friend or use on set for a TV show.

bark sing or count on command

Today’s Training Tuesday post teaches you how to train your dog to “speak” or bark or “sing” or “count” on command.

Having a dog who can bark or “speak” on command and from a distance is an important behavior for a dog to know if your planning on auditioning for film or television. They often look for dogs who can do natural behaviors on command like bark, pee, look, sneeze, lie down or dig. It can also be a really cool trick for a live show or for friends, just as is or as the foundation for singing or counting.

Read: How To Get Your Dog On TV

Sammy and Angus Bearded Collies at Lake Muskoka

Sammy and Angus the Bearded Collie Dogs on Lake Muskoka

Last week I was up on Lake Muskoka and one of my host’s two Bearded Collie dogs Angus got really frightened by sudden surprise fireworks nearby and took off like a rocket into the bush (sound travels on a lake). We jumped in the boat with his sister Sammy to search for him. My host  told Sammy to bark as we came up to each dock and she did, right on command.  Eventually, Angus heard her and ran own from the bushes onto a neighbor’s dock and jumped in the boat. Scary situation averted. I was very impressed. We called his name but it was the bark that worked.

If you have a dog who likes to bark, why not turn it into a trick? I thought it would be fun to teach Kilo so I asked a few super talented Talent Hounds Community Members how they did it .

Susie and Positive Trainer Marcy

Susie and Positive Trainer Marcy

Positive reinforcement dog trainer, Marcy of My Dog Isn’t Perfect,  has three trick dogs  Sweetie, Lulu and Shivers. They have appeared in our TV series, our movie trailer, and our live shows.  She has incorporated the bark command into their live shows as a counting trick that’s always a crowd pleaser.

Marcy says, “People love seeing a dog do math questions! Even better when they start reading the math questions. I found this trick is really helpful with dogs who like to bark.” 

Shivers the Jack Russell Trick Dog singing

Shivers the Jack Russell Trick Dog singing

She also adapts the bark command to have her dogs “sing” and play the piano which looks hilarious. See here for our coverage of her recent Community Live Show.

Like Marcy, we suggest using a high-value reward like your dog’s favorite treats or toys.


Teach Your Dog To Bark On Command

  • If you have a dog who likes to bark start adding the cue “speak” with a hand gesture when they bark to your daily routine. You want your dog to know that “speak” is a cue for an action that comes with a reward. Repeat by cueing and rewarding until you can cue your dog and it barks. You are shaping a natural behavior and attaching a verbal cue and hand signal to the behavior (some people also use clickers to signal that the dog has completed the behaviour you want). Do not reward if they do not bark. Be very enthusiastic and always keep training fun.
  • The principal of reward based training is that the more you reward a behavior, the more your dog will repeat it for you.
  • If your dog is not a frequent barker, you may need to use your reward to tempt him or get him excited or almost lure him into barking.  Have them in a sit and show them the treat.  Wait until your dog gets impatient and barks to get you to give them the treat then reward and cue. Practice until he does it on command. Kilo only usually barks and snarls loudly at the postman and strange dogs or humans which I do not want to accidentally reward, so this may take a while. 
  • If you have tried this method, and you just can’t seem to get your dog to bark, find what does trigger your dog to bark (ex. doorbell ringing) and add the command in afterwords, eventually they will pick it up.
  • Once you have the cue down you can get pickier about what bark constitutes a reward. If it’s a quiet bark or a mumble, don’t reward. Wait for a nice, loud bark to reward.

Teach Your Dog To “Count”

  • Once you have the speak cue trained, you can start to ask your dog math questions like 1 +1= 2. You will cue your dog twice to answer.
  • Once you know you got your dog to do this you can move on to getting your dog to “read” math questions; yes, you can teach this to…When you ask your dog to speak and your dog speaks, reward for doing the behavior.

Teach Your Dog To Be Quiet

‘Quiet’ is a good command to train if your dog is vocal or to make sure they don’t accidentally start offering barks randomly for attention and treats.
  • After you ask your dog to ‘bark,’ once he is quiet again attach the “Be Quiet” cue and reward. Then start to ask him to be quiet. When he is, immediately reward so he understands what behaviour you want.
  • Keep in mind that this trick is difficult and requires more patience than teaching them to bark on command. Don’t feel discouraged, it’s a very useful command to have once they know it!

I need to work on this one with Kilo and the mailman and strangers. I also want to get him to go to a specific spot and be quiet instead of attacking the mail and shredding the curtains. One step or bark at a time.

Happy Training and remember to make it positive and rewarding for both you and your dog!

Can your dog bark on command? Share your training stories in the comments below.

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  • I haven’t decided if this is one I want Penny to learn yet or not… my Zeus used to sing and that was the best!

  • All dogs have a talent and that is the love they give. Some brilliant extra specialities highlighted here though.

  • Oh I really should teach Montecristo to sing… that would be so cute.

  • This is really interesting. I have a Doberman who in quite vocal whether barking in the yard or squealing with delight when she sees me after work or playing with her “brother” my Golden Retriever. It never occurred to me to teach her to bark as I have been trying to make her quiet! I can see how this could be a powerful tool. I LOVED that the other dog barked and it reunited them together. That is practical and wonderful.

  • I am not sure if I want Layla to learn as I live in an apartment building, the only time she barks or howls is when the kids come over or someone knocks on the door.

  • This is so cool. My Chi doesn’t do much barking so I’m not sure how it would go with her. But I’ll have to give it a try. Once I can get her to learn to sit on command, teeheehee

  • Dexter sings. Then he gets so excited he starts to snort and spin. Not so much on cue, but I can anticipate when it’s going to happen and encourage it. ;0

  • I never thought about barking on command having the ability to find a lost dog.

  • Teaching to count after you teach ‘speak!’ OMGosh…. why haven’t I ever thought of that!?! Of course, it makes total and perfect sense – thank you for sharing and now wish us the best as we give it a whirl!

  • My dog is very silent. My other Peruvian rescue dog was also super quiet. Perhaps it has to do with their early hardships on the streets. These seem like great tricks. My sister-in-law is a stage mom. Maybe I’ll tell her about this and she can turn her pet into a star also!

  • Mr. N is learning it now! It was much easier teaching him how to be quiet actually lol. I think he’s an exception.

  • I taught my brother his Border Collie to bark on command, it’s such a fun party trick! I still have to teach him how to count, that’s going to be awesome!!

  • I’m not sure barking is something I’d want to teach dogs to do – but some great tricks here.

  • LOL! Ruby never barks. She is one of the quietest dogs I have ever known. I’m going to try your trick for quiet dogs, but I’m guess it won’t work. We have heard her bark maybe five times in three years. I will keep you posted!

  • Thanks so much for all the tips (& process) here, I am really keen to teach #Finndawg to bark on command. Annette

  • Great post, and adorable dogs! I’ve been afraid to teach my Husky to Bark, she’s kind of a demand Barker at home & it’s annoying. I do however, have an interest in teaching her to be Quiet!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • You’re correct in that the “speak” cue is one of the most frequently requested behaviors! However, I’m always reluctant to teach it to dogs that already love to bark as it can be difficult to put under stimulus control unless you already have a good “quiet” on cue.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Very true- I am not having much luck with Kilo. He loves to bark at the postman but has lost his mind at that point. Got to try to fix that first.