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How to Teach Your Dog to Count?

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Today, I want to talk about some activities you can do with your puppy. Most of the dog training exercises, commands, cues, and more are about installing good manners in your puppy. But then there are some dog training tricks that are just for fun. How to teach your dog to count is one of them.

Your dog is probably your best friend. Your dog is also your companion. But you can teach your puppy to be more than that. You can have some fun. Some people even teach their puppies to help around the house. Teaching a dog to count is a fun activity. You can show it in front of your friends and brag about how smart your dog is.

Have you ever wondered how to teach your dog to count? Can our dogs even grasp the concept of counting? This might surprise you. Yes, you can turn your dog into a math wizard. You can teach him to recognize counting as a dog trick.

How to do that? By training your puppy to tell you a number through barks by using positive reinforcement training method. Let’s see.

Why teach your dog to count?

This is a purely fun trick. It is a way to play some interactive dog games at home. And anytime you teach your dog a new simple trick, it works as mental stimulation. Not to mention, a bonding experience. The more time you spend with your puppy, the better connection you have. And since dogs love to bark, this exercise might sound great for them.

Now, dogs do not count numbers in the same way we do. But they can be trained to show interest in numbers. Kirsty Forrester, a dog trainer, trained her Shih Tzu Cooper to count shared five fun steps in 2015.

With that in mind, if you want to brag to your friends about how your dog can count, let’s learn how. This training session will be great for you and your puppy.

Teach Your Dog to Speak and Shush

Dogs love to bark. Dogs can bark for a variety of reasons. For example, alarming when someone is at the door. Communicating with you. Asking for attention. Playing with puppies. Inviting you to play or inviting other dogs to play. Bark for territorial reasons.

Yes, constant barking is annoying. But teaching your dog to bark on verbal cue is a great way to reduce barking. You actually give your dog a reason to bark and show him that is the only time it is acceptable to bark.

If you have a herding dog like Border collie, you know it is a vocal breed. Herding breeds let a high-pitched wail accompany their work. Here is a step-by-step instruction on how to teach your dog to bark on cue and then be quiet on cue. We will use the basic lure reward system here. The sequence is request > lure > response > reward. Use a verbal command as a request.

  1. Say the command speak to prompt your dog to bark. You can use any other word if you like. Just make sure that the command and verbal cue will result in barking
  2. Lure your puppy into barking by using his favorite barking trigger. For some dogs, that is the doorbell. For others, it is showing him a ball
  3. Wait for your puppy to respond to the request and start barking. Mark it and then allow your dog to bark for a few seconds
  4. Praise your dog for barking and reward him

Now that your puppy can bark on cue, we can move into the command quiet or Shush. It is a bit more challenging, but we use the same learning sequence again, request > lure > response > reward.

  1. Start by engaging your dog into barking using a barking trigger
  2. Lure your puppy to stop barking by bringing kibble or some other dog food and treats to dogs nose. Your dog will sniff the lure and stop barking
  3. Wait for your dog to stop barking, mark it, and wait for a few more seconds
  4. Praise and reward your puppy. You can increase the length of quiet time gradually

Bonus tip: after your dog is quiet, you can give him something else to do, like a stuffed Kong or another chew toy to stop barking.

How to teach your dog to count?

We talked before about how you can use dog food to stop a puppy from barking. Well, when your dog knows how to speak and be quiet on command, you can make him count. It is a neat party trick to show your friends.

  1. Ask your puppy to count to a certain number (three, five, or seven works best, depending on your puppy’ engagement)
  2. Give your dog the regular speak command, and then count the number of barks (three, five, seven). After the desired amount of barks, give him a command to stop barking
  3. To make it less obvious, you can train speak and quiet with hand signals. It will take a bit more time, but it will look less obvious. Use the hand signal pointing at your mouth for speak, and placing a finger in front of your lips for quiet
  4. Use the hand signal and verbal signal together in the beginning. Verbal signal comes always before a hand signal. Once your dog recognizes the hand signal, you can phase out the verbal signal
  5. Reward your dog for the number of times it barks

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4 Responses

  1. I have taught Count Sydney the Dog to count all numbers up to 10. He has memorized how many times to count for each number. I do not cue him when to quit. It took a year of consistent training while spending more than two months on each number before going to the next higher number. Your article does not teach a dog to actually count by memory, but rather, teaches how to quiet them when the number of times to bark has been reached. I’d really like to know what you think of Count Sydney the dog in his videos on YouTube. ‘Count Sydney the Dog’ channel. He performs other tricks and I am now introducing Count Syd to dog talking buttons with numbers I recorded on the dog talking buttons.
    My goal is to prove that he has memorized these numbers and not being signaled when to stop. When he overcomes his playful curiosity and fear of the dog talking buttons, he will press them himself and answer the number spoken on the recording— without my assistance.

      1. Thanks for the kudos…I love training count Sydney the Dog to count by memory. It shows just how intelligent dogs can be with extensive training…without using hand signals to stop barking.

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