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Teaching "speak"

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Last night I met with a SAR group that I hope to start training with soon. They gave me a list of "homework" to complete with Kipp before starting air scent training.


Teaching a dog to speak on command is on the list. However, Kipp doesn't bark when people are around. He barks every now and then if he's crated and no one is around, or if he sees a cat and can't get to it. But there is no way I want to reward him for barking in his crate.


He does have decent food and toy drive.


Any pointers?

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With my lab if I made funny faces at him he'd get excited and bark and Id use a hand sign, kinda like I was talking with my hand, and I'd reward him when he barked. Eventually he would bark on command with only the hand sign. Haven't tried it with my BC yet. Kipp sounds a lot like Lance in his barking habits. Lance very rarely barks. And I too want to get into SAR.

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Risa is a quiet dog too. She rarely barks. But when she would get 'frustrated' with me while training, she would bark. I clicker train with her so I just waited for her to offer the behavior. When she did, I clicked and rewarded her. Then I added a hand sign and now she knows how to speak on command.


You can try tying him up and getting excited. Because he can't reach you to join in the excitement, he may start barking and you can reward him.

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The excitement factor is how we got Clover to 'speak'. We'd get her super excited and when she'd finally bark we'd say 'good speak' and give her a treat. It only took a few times to catch on. The one thing that was hard though is that after we taught it she took the liberty of attempting to speak when not asked. Fixing that took longer than teaching her how to speak. Now our other dog, Pepper... she just will NOT do it. at all. no matter what.

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I've trained mine to bark when I ask them "Who's that?" in an excited voice?


It was kind of difficult to get them to do it, so the way I finally trained them, was I'd ask them and then start looking around and woofing and growling, and that got them going. Lol...but it worked!

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I had the same homework when I joined my SAR group ! I did the same as Vickkers and got Dylan "excited". I used a clicker to mark the behaviour, but you can do what Vickkers did as I don't think Kipp is clicker trained, right ? I actually had to be really stupid and I jumped all over the sofa........Normally I don't like Dylan getting excited about stuff like that - so I understand how you feel. He picked it up immediately but seemed uncomfortable barking at me for a while. I needed to keep it as happy and fun as I could, but still never felt Dylan was happy with a bark alert......Maybe it was "my" problem. Does your group only train a bark alert for wilderness ? I did disaster SAR so it was expected of us, but if I had only done wilderness, I think a refind would have suited us soooo much better. What else was on the list ?

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I'll give the "excitment" a try then. Maybe I can tie him to a tree or something while I play ball with Miss in front of him. I'll probably feel stupid, too!


I do love my quiet dogs...


The group trains bark alert for both wilderness and disaster.


The items on the list were:


- loose lead heeling pattern


- 3 min off lead stay


- recall from a 5 yard stay


- 15 yard send out to one base, dog jumps on base, remains for 5 seconds


- "speak" on command to three teammates out of sight of the handler


- jumps into the bed of a pick up or similar obsticle


- walks a stable plank 12" wide, 10-12' long, 3' off the ground


- goes though a short open tunnel


- is social/neutral to other dogs/people


Hmm... Missy could pass! Too bad she's 7 already


Teaching speak was the only one that I'm sratching my head about - so far at least :rolleyes: I've got a few weeks to work on it, though. I need to attend 4 sessions before I bring Kipp along. And right now I'm going through a Medical First Responder course (part of my training). So attending training sessions is going to be hit and miss until mid-March. Hopefully I'll have my "homework" with Kipp done by then!


I was really comfortable and "at home" with the group - very friendly and took time to explain things to me as they went along. After spending an hour with them, it felt like it could be a very fit for me.

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A way to get the dog excited and frustrated is to tie him to somewhere, you can play with him for a while and then go back some steps and lure him whit the toy. As he can?t reach it soon or later he's gonna make some sound, reward that, even if a whine, then you can shape that to a good bark.


I don't know if you know how to work whit play drive, if you don't... Dogs get atracted by the movement, to make the toy more atractive you can tie a rope at it so the movements become more wide than what our arms permit, this way you focus the dog in the toy and not in you, which will make easier things when Kipps have to learn to bark to others persons. Move the toy to atract the atention of the dog, but when the dog is focused, FREEZE it, this is very important, but many people forget to do it. The dog will bark when the toy is freezed, not when in movement.




Example: You move the toy and the dog get excited, the leash that you used to tie him is tight and the dog is pulling forward (use an harness, not a collar, the dog has to be comfortable). As the dog is focused on the toy and fight to reach it, you freeze. Dog whimps... you move the toy and freeze again, dog whimps... you move the toy and freeze... dog whimps almost bark... You reward the dog!


To reward... remember that the toy is a prey, is a rabbit, rabbits don't jump in the mouth of wolves. NEVER put the toy in the mouth of the dog, move it in circle in front of him, so he can "hunt" the toy, always in movement. If he likes, you can play tug, if he doesn't like tug, throw the toy where he can reach it (not to him)




Keep working that way until the solely vision of the toy makes Kipps to bark, then begin to work with him free. When the dog be working free, don't let him be distracted by anything, as soon as you feel he's lossing focus on you move the toy again.


At first work with him with you standing until the alert be well stablished, but as soon as you can, vary your positions... laying on the floor, fetal position, sat, on your knees... the dog has to learn that the barking is independant of your body languaje.


At this stage, don't bother with orders, you don't need them in SAR work, even when they can be useful to correct posible future problems, a command can come later, when the dog is already barking, but victims don't use to give commands to the dog when lost.


If you are able to read in spanish, I have tons of information to share.

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Wow! Thanks for the detailed information, Catu!


I know a little about working with play drive, but the informaion I have uses it for competition work, more along the lines of teaching focus, not a bark. So the step by step explanation is very helpful.


No, I can't read in spanish :rolleyes: Now I wish I took up spanish studies a few years ago when I was considering learning that language!

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Well I kind of fell into teaching Black Jack to speak. Every morning he runs around and kind of makes a "aww ooo" sound when I first let him out of his crate. It's really funny. But I just listened to when he would start and say "talk" He's starting to learning it now.

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