Here’s how we taught our dog to sing…
Like usual, we started with an action or behavior that he already did on his own.
We just hadn’t put a “command” to it yet.
In this case, Tenor would do this cute little “howl” whenever he didn’t get his way. (It actually went more like this: “woooo woooooooo wooooooooof”.) It really sounded cute, but up to this point, it meant nothing.
So we decided to give it a word and now our dog “sings” on command!
Step-by-Step How We Did It
We started with one of his pouting howls one day when he didn’t get his way.
The moment he did it, we jumped for joy and said, “Did you sing?!” And he immediately got a treat.
Of course, he didn’t have a clue as to what had just happened. Previously, this sad little howl had just been ignored by us. But this time, he got praised and rewarded for it like it was the best thing he’d ever done.
We continued these actions the next few times he did it — over the course of several days.
It was simple…
He did the pouty howl. We praised him for “singing”. And he got a treat. Period. Life went on. We didn’t spend any extra time on this behavior yet.
After several days of this, when we thought he had associated “sing” with that funny little howl, then we tried to get him to do it on cue:
“Can you sing?… ”
“C’mon Tenor, sing!”
If he barked normally, we said “No bark” and we looked away.
But if he did that cute little howl, we jumped for joy and praised him and gave him a treat.
Today, Tenor sings on cue. And he’s sooooooo cute when he’s doing it!
Who knows. Perhaps our dog has more of a knack for singing than other dogs do. After all, his name is Tenor.
Just kidding. I’m sure that all dogs can do it. Let me know how it goes for you.
An Alternate Method Of Teaching Dogs To Sing
If your dog doesn’t already have a cute little howl, or a unique bark that he does sometimes, then try to get your dog to make a brand new sound on your own.
Or, you may be able to hold their favorite treat in front of their nose — just be sure that you resist every urge to give it to them unless your dog howls (or whines) in a way that you want to associate with the word “sing” forever.
Your aim is to do whatever you can to encourage your dog to “speak” differently by vocalizing himself in a different way than he normally does.
It might even take playing a musical instrument in your dog’s presence. Who knows…
NOTE: Unless you simply want to teach your dog to bark on cue (as in: “speak”), then don’t give treats and praise for the common everyday bark.
Related to this, see how we taught our dog to “tell us” when he wants something.