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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I tried the same method I did for shake - when he does it (in this case bark/moan/utter some kind of sound) he gets a click/treat.

He was getting into it. Making lots of different sounds and such. I was using shaping to get louder/longer sounds, some barks, some changing pitches and loudness during the moans.

Even got some on command. Looked he was learning well, making fast progress like with shake.

Then suddenly, he just checked out on me. Just stopped doing anything. Now he's just standing staring at the door like someone just ate his brain and turned him into a zombie.

He does this sometimes, then 15-20 minutes later, he's back to normal.

Now he won't speak on command anymore or even make any sounds. This doesn't make sense to me. He was getting rewarded quickly and marked while making sound and now he's not doing anything but standing and staring.

Did I mess this up somewhere - seems like I was doing it right? Where did I go wrong? What's happening here? Sometimes I swear something just short circuits in his head and the power goes out as it were.

P.S. Can someone tell me why it's hard to get him to do basic tricks like shake or speak, but he can learn more complex, harder to mark/shape stuff like going downstairs on command or to his bed/crate, or walking on his hind legs?
 

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That's why we love dogs so much....they have blind spots like we do. Math is easy...95% of the class gets it....a few (like me) stare at the ceiling and ask God why He's putting us through this torture.
Instead of free shaping....is there something he barks at? Knock on the door? cellophane bag rattling? A ball being bounced? An alarm going off? (My guys bark like crazy when I foget to turn it off in the morning.....I guess they share my sentiments about alarm clocks). Capture the bark during those moments and C/T.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So far, there's two things that are all-but-certain to get him to bark.

1) A dog barking at him, especially if the other dog is behind a fence

2) if he needs to get out to the bathroom, and even then only in my room. For some reason, he won't bark if I'm, say, in the kitchen and he needs to go out. No idea why.


I was doing the 2nd scenario that got him started and I that's how I got as far as I did.

Other than that, he's not a barker. I've tried the doorbell, ring tones on the cell phone, ring of the landline phone, tea kittle whistling, alarm clock, microwave beeps, oven beeps, music, youtube videos of dogs, and me acting stupid and barking at him.

Nothing - nothing at all. He just doesn't bark hardly at all!

I guess this might be a trick I won't get from him, at least not very easily. At least if it was shake or high five, it's easier to get him to at least start.
 

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Instead of free shaping....is there something he barks at? Knock on the door? cellophane bag rattling? A ball being bounced? An alarm going off? (My guys bark like crazy when I foget to turn it off in the morning.....I guess they share my sentiments about alarm clocks). Capture the bark during those moments and C/T.
Thanks Tooney. I've been working on "Woof" and "Shush" with Tucker. I can usually get him to bark, by just saying bark/speak/woof, but getting him to understand "Shush" is a whole-nother ball game. I want to add in the hand signal (later, when he's learned the behavior) of putting my finger to my lips.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well - he's not speaking on cue - but he's becoming more vocal, so at least that's a positive.

I guess at least he's learned that I don't care if he makes noises, especially if trying to communicate something to me.

So at least it wasn't completely for nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Got some capturing in this time. He was hungry and wanted to go up and eat. He started whimpering and moaning at me, so I grabbed some kibble and came back.

He started up again, so I clicked and treated (he LOVES his kibble now - it's almost scary - he learned shake so fast when I rewarded him with the Innova instead of his treats :eek:).

Then I started saying "speak" and clicking when he barked/whined/moaned/whatever sound. Kept this up until the kibble was gone. He still looked like he wanted to keep going, so I directed him to his bed and had him stay while I got some leftover pepperoni.

Started it up again, but this time I said speak before he started. He actually made some sound - so c/t. He did this about 25 times in a row. Maybe he's getting it.

So I tempt fate a little. I take him up to the kitchen and said "speak". Nope. Nothing. He did his default sit and was just looking at me. I tried again, and he just waved his ears at me - he didn't understand it another place yet (dang context learning).

Went back to my room, said "speak" and he made some more sound. Got five more out of him and then ended the session. Much better it seems this time around.

And he's crashed out on his bed. He got himself some water when I dismissed the "class", laid on the floor a little for some self-grooming then laid out on his bed. Still amazed at how tiring training can be on him. Never would have thought barking/making sound on cue would wear him out so much.

One thing I noticed:
-When he was trying to make sound on command, he would take steps backwards! :eek: Why the heck? When I would hold out for louder sounds or barks instead of moans, he would do the backward steps again. Once he went into a play bow-ish pose. What's with all the movement? Just curious.

How did he generalize shake so fast, but not speak? What's the underlying thing at work here? Is it an emotional thing? Comfort level with the environment (he's comfortable in my room so he feels "more free" to bark?) Obviously, I just need to keep at it, but it's just interesting how quickly he can generalize some things but not others.
 

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One thing I noticed:
-When he was trying to make sound on command, he would take steps backwards! :eek: Why the heck? When I would hold out for louder sounds or barks instead of moans, he would do the backward steps again. Once he went into a play bow-ish pose. What's with all the movement? Just curious.
What does it mean when a human backs away from a situation? Unsure, slightly threatened/not comfortable. Offers something known...trying to create some order/sense. Dogs are no different.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What does it mean when a human backs away from a situation? Unsure, slightly threatened/not comfortable. Offers something known...trying to create some order/sense. Dogs are no different.
So he's telling me he's uncomfortable learning to "speak" on command, or just more confirmation that he's still not quite understanding? He has never ever ever done this before - so yet another new behavior. Really interesting to be sure...

Should I start zoning in on one kind of sound? Is the uncertainty in what sound to make or what the cue actually means (or both)?
 

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It's kinda funny in a way. I can't tell you how many clients have hired me to stop their dogs from barking and along you come trying to teach your dog to bark. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's kinda funny in a way. I can't tell you how many clients have hired me to stop their dogs from barking and along you come trying to teach your dog to bark. :D

LOL oh yeah, I couldn't help but chuckle seeing him all worn out from training...on how to bark.

There is something really ironic about that. It's like nature is just pulling a joke on me or something!
 

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Should I start zoning in on one kind of sound? Is the uncertainty in what sound to make or what the cue actually means (or both)?
He's not sure what you want or exactly what you want him to do.
You want a bark and even though you're c/t for the other sounds I'm willing to bet the look on your face/your attitude is telling him those sounds aren't the right ones....sending him mixed messages/confusion.
Focus on the sound you want. I'm still inclined to create the barking you want through other methods. I know you said he doesn't bark at door bells, alarm clocks, etc. but, keep trying...have someone bang a 2x4 on the floor (out of sight), have that person yell, bang pots together, try howling....try anything/everything and encourage him to bark at the noise where you can capture it, c/t.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Well, maybe we're making progress.

At least now if I say "speak" he'll do it just out of the blue...at least in my room and in the hallway outside of it (mainly because he wants in - so I make him "speak" to come in).

Upped the challenge a little. I started mixing in him grabbing and "fetching" (if a 5 foot retrieve can be considered a fetch) in with the speak training. This would see if he really knows what it is when presented with two behaviors I'm now rewarding.

At first he didn't get it - had to do a no reward marker when grabbed if I said "speak". But after a while, he was starting to separate the two, a good sign.

It's kinda funny how he does his "speak". He sorta makes an a-pah, a-pah, a-pah sound rapidly (it's like he's trying to make the sp sound in speak :eek:) before he then barks. It's like he has to learn how to bark LOL. I guess in a way he does - he has to learn how to bark when he's not feeling any natural inclination to do so I guess. The barks are also lower volume. I've read that "speak" barks are different than a "natural" bark, so it seems to be what I'm hearing.

Oh, tried the sounds again, especially in other locations - most of them just freaked him out...but didn't get a bark! LOL

When I howled he tilted his head to the side :)
 

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Thats the exciting part of training...trying different things and getting unexpected results but, we learn from it and get to know our dogs better.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Well, well - he actually "spoke" in the kitchen again. I got him going by letting him jump off my lap (he loves getting to do that for some reason) and while he's all still feeling like "weeee! that was fun!" I kept saying "speak". The one time he will bark is if he's wound up about something. Usually that something is going to the bathroom or eating (a dog's life, I swear :p)

Well, he barked - so I scrambled to get his leftover roast beef out (I got pantsed because I didn't think he'd actually do it. He didn't the last time I tried this). I hoped the high value treat would help nail the point home. I made noise-making rewarding (I know I'm going to regret this later, right? LOL) and added in the voice cue.

Fast forward to about 30 min ago. I had to keep saying "speak!" He offered behaviors like sitting or jumping up on me (to try getting me to pick him up so I can let him jump off my lap...geez, give it rest, Wally! :) ). I know you're not supposed to repeat commands, but he offered a muffled bark (not sure if he was saying "THERE! Now shut up about the "speak" already!" Or just offering it in hopes it was right - but whatever got him barking).

More high-value treats and he started doing it immediately on cue. Even in different rooms. Even with my back turned. Even sitting on the couch in the living room. Even if the food (this time a roll) wasn't in the same room. Got funny after a while. Bark in the living room. I say "good boy!" and he starts running to where the bread is LOL


Tooney, since you've been SO helpful - I have a couple more questions for you (ain't you lucky??? :D) :

1) I notice he wags his tail while "speaking". Is that just excitement at this newly learned game - or another signal that he's still a little uncertain about what this "speak" thing is all about? Or is he just "talking with his hands" - kind of something dogs do while barking? I don't care that he's doing it - just want to make sure I'm reading him right with the feedback he's giving me. Oh and when he was really getting into it, he'd start "tap dancing" in place like - I think that was just like "tell me to speak already!" heh

2) Since I swear I have to do everything "backwards" with this dog, could I pair a sound with the "speak" cue to teach him to bark at certain sounds? Obviously, this will come when he gets far, far better at "speaking", but is this an avenue worth trying if/when that day comes?
 

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1) I notice he wags his tail while "speaking". Is that just excitement at this newly learned game - or another signal that he's still a little uncertain about what this "speak" thing is all about? Or is he just "talking with his hands" - kind of something dogs do while barking? I don't care that he's doing it - just want to make sure I'm reading him right with the feedback he's giving me. Oh and when he was really getting into it, he'd start "tap dancing" in place like - I think that was just like "tell me to speak already!" heh
It sounds like excitment especially with the tap dance but, tail wagging by itself is hard to read...ie; the difference between a nervous twitch and excitement can be pretty small.

2) Since I swear I have to do everything "backwards" with this dog, could I pair a sound with the "speak" cue to teach him to bark at certain sounds? Obviously, this will come when he gets far, far better at "speaking", but is this an avenue worth trying if/when that day comes?
You're using the verbal cue/command "Speak" as the cue. Instead of using another auditory cue you might want to switch to a visual cue.
Dogs learn 5x faster with visual cues compared to verbal/auditory cues so, I'd transition to a something like the movement of your finger or other subtle cue. Remember, the new cue always comes before the old one so, you'd wiggle your finger then say Speak. When he starts speaking at the visual cue eliminate the verbal and start decreasing the amount of finger wiggle until it's very subtle.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Okay, this was funny.

I was showing off "speak" to my mother and Wally did it just fine.

She told him to speak and he promptly laid on the ground! :eek:

She got him to stand up with no problem, then said speak again - and he dropped again, like it was the right thing to do.

If she holds food in her hand, and say speak - he'll speak :eek:

So she tried again without the food - and he laid down again! It was so funny to watch.

So she tried to trick him with holding something inedible - and Wally laid down again, couldn't trick him. :)

I have no idea why he did that, but he'll do it every single time and almost immediately as if speak = lie down.

But for me - I say speak, and he barks (or moans, or whines, or makes some aborted-bark sound). No food - heck don't even have to be near food. Very interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
FINALLY!

I think we've arrived. He'll speak on verbal command and hand signal (even if he pauses for like 5 seconds like a statue, slowly get that tail wagging, and then make sound - don't ask, he's wierd).

I've also noticed he's making his miscellaneous sounds more. Yawning more "vocally" making assorted little noises when he sees me or gets excited - it's pretty cute. He made this soft mmmmmmmm sound while stretching, it was really funny :) It sounded like a cat purr.

He speak while sitting, while lying down, while standing. Up close, from a distance, back turned. Kneeling. Won't speak if I'm holding his paw (from a shake) though. Not sure why. Won't speak if he's standing on his hind legs either - still working on both of those.

So, of course, now I get to mess with him. ;) Make him bark 10 times during shaping to get a treat. Watch him bark, and then tilt his head side to side when I don't move, or make a "rah!" sound in frustration and then bark six times as loud the next time or moan for 30 seconds, even after I look at him after 5 seconds (yeah we mess with each other like that).
 
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