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Dog Trick - Teach Your Dog To Count

Difficulty: Moderate

Here is a fun and impressive trick that proves that your dog is as smart as Einstein (mmm … or at least as smart as Einstein's dog). The trick is to get your dog to bark until a subtle cue causes him to stop. Then you can have him bark out any number of barks to answer various mathematical questions. This trick is not that hard to teach, but it does take patience and longer periods of time than most tricks in order to shape the behavior correctly. But it is really worth the effort because it shows that your dog really counts for something.

Step 1: Have your dog sit facing you.

Step 2: Hold a treat in your left hand and hold your right hand up. (Here we are getting the dog to associate the speak command with the visual command of holding your right hand up). Also look your dog in the eye (I look directly into his right eye).

Step 3: Have the dog speak, and treat when he barks.

Step 4: Repeat. But this time only drop your hand (also avert your eyes) and treat when he barks twice. (This may take some patience).

Step 5: Work on this several times a day until your little Einstein realizes he must continue to bark until you drop your hand.

Step 6: Gradually fade from holding your right hand up so that your dog will use your eyes as the cue to stop speaking.

Step 7: Keep refining this trick until he has a smooth flow of barks and stops as soon as you avert your eyes.


While teaching our dog to count, we started by re-familiarizing him with the speak command. While doing this, we introduced a small cue: looking down and staring at him directly into his right eye. When getting him to speak, we began with clicking right after he barked once, then once he was progressing well, we started clicking after multiple barks. Each time we wanted him to stop barking, we would immediately break our eye contact, and click and treat. Once this was accomplished, we could cue him to start barking by rotating our head down and looking at his right eye. Once he finished barking, we would break our eye contact, and reward him for a job well done. This is how Caspian can solve math problems given by friends, we keep him barking using this subtle cue. We just have to make sure we do the math right ourselves.


My dog doesn't always stop barking on time! Keep working with him. This is why this trick takes lots of patience! If your dog (or you) makes a mistake during a performance, put your hands on your hips and say, "Oh! Einstein, I'm ashamed of you," which cues his Act Ashamed trick— for a good laugh.

Tip: "Have your guests think of simple math problems for your dog to answer, but make sure you do the math right!"

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