With time and training you can teach your dog to do just about anything – you can even teach him to count! If you’re looking for a new trick to teach your dog and you want to think outside the box of rolling over or jumping through a hoop, consider teaching your dog to count. Keep reading to learn how.
Teaching Your Dog to Speak
There are many different ways you can teach your dog to count, but if you want him to be able to respond to more than just “1+1” you’ll need to teach him to bark on cue and to stop barking on cue. Basically, you’ll teach your dog to speak when you give a hand signal and have him keep barking until he reaches the right number, then stop when you drop your hand. To start, however, you’ll have to teach your dog to bark on command – here is how:
- Find something that gets your dog very excited – for many dogs it is a favorite toy or the doorbell ringing (we’ll use this example for training purposes).
- Have your dog sit in front of you and have a friend stand outside the house by the doorbell.
- Show your dog a treat in your hand to get his attention, then have your friend ring the doorbell when you say “speak”.
- If your dog barks at the doorbell, immediately give him the treat – repeat until he consistently responds correctly then start phasing out the doorbell while continuing the verbal command.
- Once your dog gets the hang of barking when you say “speak” start incorporating a hand motion – for example, you might hold your right hand up.
- Work with your dog repeatedly until he barks in response to the “speak” command as well as the hand signal.
While you are working with your dog to reinforce the speak command, make sure to make eye contact with him as you issue the command – this will be important during the next phase.
Teaching Your Dog to Count
Once your dog has mastered the speak command, you can pair it with a hand signal in teaching him to count. Here are the steps to follow:
- Have your dog sit in front of you so you can easily make eye contact and hold a treat in your left hand.
- Raise your right hand (or make whatever hand signal you’ve taught your dog) and tell him to speak – give him the treat when he barks.
- Repeat the sequence but wait until your dog barks twice – when he does, drop your hand and avert your eyes, then give him the treat.
- Keep working with your dog until he keeps barking until you drop your hand and avert your eyes.
- Refine your dog’s skills then show them off – you can try asking your dog “what is 2 plus 2” then hold up your hand until your dog barks four times, then drop it.
By using positive reinforcement training and consistent cues and commands, you can teach your dog to do just about anything. Teaching your dog to count is a great test of his obedience skills and it will also wow your friends and family!