The Woof Relay is a timed event; each team, comprising five dogs and five handlers, competes one-at-a-time against the clock. Each dog has to woof three times and then shush. The team with the shortest total time for 15 woofs wins.
First, you need to teach your dog to speak on cue. Your dog might bark eventually, especially if you do all sorts of silly things, like jump up and down, roll on the floor, sing, or bark at your dog. But that won’t fly for this competition. The Woof Relay World Record is 7.11 seconds for 15 woofs by the Dealing With Dogs team in the Toronto Sky Dome (1999). What you need for this game is a dog who instantly barks three times when you say “Speak!” anytime, anywhere. You need to teach your dog to speak on cue in a variety of different settings and to objectively test your dog’s reliability. Walk your dog and every 25 yards say, “Speak!” (Just once). Note the percentage of times your dog barks following a single request and how long it takes for your dog to bark three times on each occasion.
The wonderful bonus of teaching your dog to Woof on cue is that Woof Relay dogs seldom become problem barkers. Teaching your dog to speak on cue enables you to teach your dog to shush at times that are convenient to you. For example, it is inconvenient and difficult to teach your dog to shush at 3:00am when you’re asleep and your dog is bent out of shape because a raccoon is raiding the trash. Instead, relax, say, “Speak,” praise your dog for woofing and then, 1. Say, “Shush! and immediately, 2. Waggle a piece of Liver Biscotti under your dog’s nose. As soon as your dog sniffs the Biscotti, 3. He will stop barking and so, 4. Calmly praise him, “Good shush one. Good shush two. Good shush three… and so on and then, eventually give him the treat. Repeat the Woof/Shush sequence over and over.
After teaching dogs to “Speak” and “Shush” on cue, owners may further teach their dogs to shush when people walk by the house, to bark should people step on the property, but to shush again as soon as people are invited indoors. One of my dogs (who used to be a serious problem barker) used to love this game and would sit for hours looking out of the front window, silently observing passersby, just daring them, or maybe willing them, to step on our property. Several of my neighbors told me that they appreciated this dog, because he always told them if anyone was going door-to-door.