Teaching A Doberman to 'Speak'

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TheAristocrat's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-09

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Hi,
Initially I thought teaching my doberman to speak would be easy, until I actually attempted it. He is not a very vocal dog in terms of barking. He moans and grumbles and makes sound of contentment all day, but only thrice have I heard him bark. All with unusual activity. No matter how hard I try I cannot get him to 'speak'. I'm desperately in need of some tips, anything!

Q Tip's picture
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Joined: 2009-03-22

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Not sure on this one....mine has the 'guardian bark' the 'sophie has my bone' bark and the 'i want to go out' bark apart from that he is very quite :)

Hickory67's picture
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Joined: 2011-07-20

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The way I taught Gideon was to first get his attention with a "look" command, then use my "speak" command while holding a treat in plain sight near my face and never breaking eye contact. I would hold that position/eye contact in silence until he got impatient enough to make a noise - any noise at first - then mark and give the treat. Gradually, I held out for a more pronounced vocalization until he eventually got to the full bark.

After he mastered the speak on command, I taught him to speak at the back door when he needs to go potty.

TheAristocrat's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-09

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I'll try that Hickory, though it won't be easy, as he will mostly just lunge at me unless I tell him to 'Stay'. But I will do my very best. Who would imagine they'd be struggling to get their dog to bark! lol. In a way it is good. I don't like dogs that bark all the time, and it means that I can take each bark more seriously. My GSD pups were far more liberal with their barks.

laith's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-30

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I did the same approach as Hickory. Just watch out. It is not always a good thing to give a treat after speak. It says its okay to speak for food (begging). 

Laith did the mumbles for awhile. He has a indoor and outdoor SPEAK. Indoor is just the movement of a bark but all jaws. No voice or barely a mumble. Outside it's his normal bark.

TheAristocrat's picture
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I'm sorry I never reported back sooner. I simply am astounded by how quickly he has learnt to speak, two days to respond accurately in knowing what speak was and a third day in getting him to vocalise with a correct bark everytime (he would mouth silently at the beginning and had to be coaxed to bark). I have him sitting at the door and barking once to go out. I oft read about a Doberman's great capacity to learn new things but to see it in person is a great privilege. My method for teaching him was to make him sit and  I said, "Onyx, speak" *pause* followed by me immitating a bark once. It didn't take long for him to catch on. In fact, teaching him to speak has been easier than teaching my father to use the correct trigger words. Doberman 1, Human 0.

As an aside, the other night I incurred a deep paper cut. Having dry hands I put the tip of my finger in a bowl of water and just sturred with my finger forwards and backward slowly. Onyx was watching and excitedly started trying to mimick my movement with his paw then tried it in the bowl himself. It's a remarkable demonstration of how aware they are of such fine details. Never does a day pass that he does not astound me with his intelligence. I still get remarks that a Doberman is a mindless killer, but this reputation ignores the depths of their character and capacity for a loving bond. It truly is very disappointing that so many defiantly see the worst in something so beautiful and soulful.

HarleyBear's picture
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Joined: 2011-08-16

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Wow Aristocrat, that was beautifully said!