Utilizing Hand Signals in Dog Training
Utilize “BIG” hand signals so your Dog can see them at a Distance!
I always teach my dog’s hand signals and there are several reasons.
The first is that dogs learn hand signals faster and easier than verbal commands.
Dogs speak to each other with body language and so learning hand signals and reading your body language is like second nature to your dog.
Our dogs often learn to ignore us and our commands. How often do you “talk” or “chatter” to your dog with no meaning? We talk to them and tell them how pretty they are, how much we love them, and how proud of them we are and sometimes we even tell them we are disappointed in them. There is nothing wrong with this constant talking, but since most of it has little to no meaning for your dog he begins to “tune you out” to some degree.
He listens to your tone, and reads your body language but then begins to pay attention to other things in his environment.
Hand signals are often harder for your dog to ignore because dogs communicate with each other using body language!
Hand Signals Are Very Convienent
It also helps when I don’t have to yell commands at my dog when I am on the phone or immersed in conversation with another person. I can quickly issue a hand signal and tell my dog to lay down or stay in one quick movement without skipping a beat!
And, hand signals are crucial if you ever take your dog off leash and he is an extended distance away! At such an expanse he might not be able to hear a verbal command so a hand signal can be imperative!
Dogs who are deaf really rely on deaf dog hand signals in order to function and coexist with their people!
When my puppies are tiny I begin giving them dog obedience hand signals at the same time I issue a verbal command. Often the hand signal is learned quicker than the verbal command!
If your dog already knows his verbal commands you may simply begin giving him a clear hand signal at the same time you give the verbal command.
If he is learning both; just pair the two together by saying the command and using the same hand signal as he is doing it.
Dog Hand Signals For Sit:
When using positive reinforcement training, getting your dog to sit is pretty basic; you put the treat in front of his nose and slowly bring it up above his head. As his head comes up his rump usually goes down into the sit position this is the point that you would click and treat.
The hand signal that goes with the “Sit” command follows along those lines. I use my palm facing upward and do a slight sweeping motion, as if you had a treat and were bringing it up to get him to sit.
Dog Training Signal For Down:
I use a very obvious hand signal for the “down” command because I need him to be able to see it from 50 yards away if ever he can be trusted to be off leash. While my dogs were running on the beach, it was critical for me that they could drop on a dime at the sign of trouble and if I had a tiny hand signal they would never be able to see it.
I put my palm straight out in front of my dog’s face (almost like the high five, or stay signal) when I teach them “down”. This hand signal is unmistakable and can be seen from a great distance.
As you are teaching your dog to lay down use one hand to take the treat in-between his front legs and toward the ground while raising your other hand out in front of him. It won’t take long for him to successfully pair the two things together; and soon you can simply flash the hand signal and wait for your dog to lay down!
Signal For Stay:
When teaching “Stay” I point my fingers to the ground in front of my dog’s nose. Stay is one of those commands that most people already use a hand signal for! It is just important that you are consistent and use the same hand signal each time you command your dog.
Signal For Come:
As I call my dog to “Come” I use a sweeping hand motion and wave my dog toward me. Each time you call your dog use the same signal and motion to help him learn.
Once you have started teaching your dog hand signals and you think he understands it is time to drop your verbal command and see if he understands the meaning of the hand signal.
Just give a signal and wait to see if your dog comprehends, be patient and wait several seconds. If he does not, go back to teaching mode be pairing the verbal and hand signal together with treats. If he complies you know that he understands your signal!
Now vary your commands, sometimes only use hand signals, sometimes only verbal commands and sometimes both to keep your obedience and hand signals strong!
It does not matter what hand signal you use as long as you are consistent and your dog can see the signal from a distance!
Does Your Dog Know Any Hand Signals? Please Share Below In The Comments Section.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.