Hi everyone. So, our 9 month old has been barking/howling more lately. We live in an apartment building and he barks when he hears our neighbors coming and going and sometimes just for the heck of it I think. Also, he barks a lot at night when he sees people walking out on the street, etc.
Anyway, I'd like to teach "speak" and "quiet." I'm guessing that I teach it by saying "speak" as he barks and then giving a treat? And then saying quiet right after barking while he's quiet and giving a treat? Am I close? The last thing I want to do is reward barking so I want to make sure I'm doing this right!
If you want your dog to stop barking, I wouldn't recommend teaching the "speak" command. I would start by telling your dog "quiet" when he starts barking at people in the hallways/outside and praise him and give him a treat if he stops. Also, talk to him in a calm relaxed voice to try to calm him down. Dogs are naturally protective, so his barking is likely him trying to warn you of anything that he may percieve as a threat.
Actually, many trainers do recommend putting barking on cue if you want to control it. I personally am a little skeptical of this approach (I know at least one person who taught her dog to speak and created a monster :), but to teach it, it would be basically the same as teaching "quiet."
To teach quiet, this is what we did.
1. Dog barks. When dog finishes barking, mark (click or we say "yes!") and treat.
2. Repeat a dozen or so times.
3. Dog barks. When dog finishes barking, say "quiet" and treat.
4. Repeat a dozen or so times.
5. Dog barks. While dog is barking, say "quiet." If dog stops, mark and treat. If not, go back to (3).
6. Put reward on a variable schedule (reward the quickest responses, or reward randomly about 25% percent of the time).
To increase the likelihood of compliance, you can also train an alternative behavior. Like pair the "quiet" with coming to you and sitting. Then praise and reward.