How to Train Your Dog to Count

By Toni Drugmand as part of  the e-How video series

Find a behavior that your dog naturally does and put a command to it. In my case, my dog barks on the command “Tell Me”. Reward the behavior with a word that “marks” the behavior. I use the word “YES!” Your reward should be a highly valued treat or toy.

· Tell Me

· Marker Word- “Yes”-Feed

· Counting word 1,2,3 so on

· Visual Hand Signal

Step One Tell Me!” For this exercise I am using the words “Tell Me!” to encourage my dog to bark. He knows this to mean I want him to bark. Once I have asked my dog to bark one time, I immediately reward with both the word “YES!” and at the same time give the food reward as close to the word “yes” as I can give it.

Step Two Now I do the exact same thing, adding one finger as a signal to my dog at the time I give the command, “Tell Me” and right after the “Tell Me” I use the word “One”. Because he already knows that Tell me means bark, he will process the signal of one finger along with the “Tell Me”. As soon as he is motivated with the bark to get his treat I will wean from the words “Tell Me”.

Step Three Now I will add some other choice word or words like “do you know how to count?” or “show me how you count”. When I hold up my one finger and tell my dog the word “ONE” I should get a bark. It is important to mark the one bark immediately with the word “yes” and to reward with the treat at the same time.

With a few repetitions of one bark and success, add the second finger hand cue while telling your dog “one”,two”…and then mark the two with the marker word “yes” and reward in the same manner. This should easily continue to develop until you can count to three, four and five.

Do not reward anything other than the one bark, or two barks etc.

Build on this. Before long, your dog will be counting and impressing your friends!

This article was written to accompany the ehow video “How to Train Your Dog to Count”

Toni Drugmand is the owner Sit Means Sit Dog Training where.… A Trained Dog is a Happy Dog!

For more information on training your dog visit us at for articles, tips and videos.

*Be sure your pet is free of health issues before starting a training program. Never hesitate to seek the help of professional dog trainer, especially when it comes to dog aggression.

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