What is the easiest dog trick to teach to an Australian Shepherd mix? ‘Speak!’ Why? Because Aussies are already yappers. It was just a matter of finding things that triggered Pierson’s barking and saying the command to speak just before the trigger. Since it was too difficult to get someone to walk by my house or make a noise outside in order to get Pierson to bark, I found another trigger. Pierson also barks when he is happy. Meal time is one example. Another is when I blow in his face during playtime.
I discovered this while I was playing with Maya. In order to keep Pierson from interfering, because he can be a jealous bully when I play with Maya, I would blow in his face to keep him away. Pierson took the face blowing as part of the game. He got so excited about this game that he started barking.
So after playing with Maya, I decided to see if I could purposely provoke him to bark bu blowing in his face. After just a couple of tries, it worked. I’d say ‘speak’, then blow in his face. If he barked, he got lots of praise. I must have done this five times before I decided to just say the command without blowing in his face. To my delight, it worked!
I did three sessions of this, each less than 5 minutes long. By the third session, I was only saying the command. No face blowing. I did another short training session the next day to refresh his memory. Now, a week or so later, he confidently knows the command and is more than happy to bark. The real dog trick will be to get him to stop. ;)
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