Why are hand signals important in dog training? Or a better question would be, why is it important for dogs to learn hand signals alongside voice cues? Well, there’s actually a few reasons why hand signals are important.
The first, and most obvious, is for situations when your dog can’t hear you properly. If you’re in a noisy environment with lots of distractions, a clear hand signal is a better way to communicate than shouting your command and trying to be heard. This also applies to dogs that are deaf. Even if your dog has perfect hearing now, they often lose this as they age. If this were to happen to your dog, it wouldn’t matter quite as much if you already communicate using hand gestures.
They’re easier to understand
Training with hand signals can also be easier for a dog to understand. Dogs are great at reading body language – it’s second nature to them. Some dogs also respond much better to hand signals than to verbal commands. We recommend you train with both! But what hand signals should you start with? To help you out, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 commands you should start with, and how to do them. Let’s get started!
HOW TO TRAIN:
First step when it comes to training your dog with hand signals is to keep it simple and reinforce good behavior with rewards (treats and praise). Once your dog is accurately responding to your commands, slowly fade out the reward. If your dog already is familiar with the standard commands: sit, stay etc., then making the transition to hand signals is fairly straight-forward. Keep in mind that training always works best when you work with your pet daily. If you make it a priority, your puppy or dog will pick up the hand signals quickly!
The starter pack of hand signals
1. ONE FINGER POINT TO EYE – Watch me.
If you want to completely shift from auditory commands to only nonverbal cues this is an extremely important first step. To allow your pet to learn, they first need to ‘look’ to be able to watch what command you want them to do. Whenever they look attentively at you, reward them with a treat. It helps to keep a small treat in your hand when first teaching- trust us, your dog’s eyes will be on the prize!
2. OPEN HAND PALM UP & PARALLEL- Sit.
The most widely used command for any dog is SIT. This is often the first training your dog receives. Start by luring your canine with a treat by moving it from the nose to the forehead of your dog. The movement of the hand develops a complete signal. Your palm should be facing the sky and your hand will move in an upward motion. It is better to use the verbal command of “Sit” with the hand signal when you start the training. It will help your pooch to understand your message more easily. This hand signal is also known as “Swing Your Palm Up”.3. FINGER POINT DOWN – Lie down.Another great signal to help settle your dog is lay down. The action for this command is to hold your finger pointed up at your chest and do a sweeping diagonal motion down. Have a treat in your hand while training and your dog’s nose is sure to follow!
4. OPEN HAND PALM FORWARD – Stay.
Teaching your dog to stay or wait is one of the most important commands. This nonverbal command is great for safety if you are out in public places or by busy streets. Train your dog with both your auditory command and hand signals. You can test this by walking backwards with your palm facing outward at the level of your chest. Make sure your pet stays until you ask them to come.
5. HAND DIAGONALLY ACROSS CHEST – Come.
Our 5th and final important command and hand signal that we’re sharing with you today is- come. Start with your hand open at your side and diagonally bring it to your opposite shoulder. This is a must when you are out in areas where your dog is off leash.
Hand signals really do have their place in dog training. Not only are they a useful additional way to communicate with your dog, but dogs tend to love learning them too! Just remember to stay patient and have fun with the training process. Training with hand signals and voice commands provides you and your dog with an invaluable aid that will allow you to live peacefully and form an even deeper bond.
A Helping Paw
If you live in Jacksonville, Florida, and you need help training your puppy or older dog, then look no further! Come.Sit.Stay Dog Training will come to you in the comfort of your home for a FREE IN-HOME CONSULTATION and all training. We start inside and work our way out into the real world. This sets your dog up for a lifetime of success. We love a good challenge and will work with any dog no matter the breed or age. Click here to learn more and to set up your FREE in-home consultation with us today.