How To Train Your Dog With Hand Signals

How To Train Dogs With Hand Signals

Have you ever wondered how to train dogs using only hand signals rather than voice commands? You may be surprised to learn that almost 60% of training your dog is made up of your pet reading your body language – a lot more than most people believe.

There are a variety of reasons owners choose to use hand signals instead of voice commands to train their dog – the primary reason being that a dog will pick up hand signals much faster than he or she will pick up voice commands. When dogs communicate with each other they use body language – when you choose to train your dog with hand signals you are merely speaking their language!

Do you ever simply chat to your dog? Many dog owners would respond with a yes. Our dogs are more than just our companions they are also a part of our family so there is nothing wrong with this idle chatter – but it can lead to your dog tuning out when you speak.

Your dog pays attention to their environment and so they will take their cues from your body language first and foremost.

Irritation, joy, aggression and fear are all cues to your pet dog. No matter their size or breed, all dogs are expert at reading body language and this will impact on the techniques you use how to train dogs.

Your Body Language And Its Impact On How To Train Dogs

Your dog is attuned to the subtle differences in the way you carry yourself and the body language signals you give off. Have you ever wondered why your dog seems to sense when you are sad, or angry or blissfully happy? Your body language gives you away every time.

Training your dog is very important, when you actively train your dog you will find them more responsive, less destructive and happier in general. As a trainer one of the most important aspects of How to train dogs is to be consistent. If you are inconsistent or upset do not train your dog, as all you will do is confuse him.

The first thing you need to do when you are training your dog is to ensure that you have her attention -one hundred percent of her attention. In order to achieve this we suggest training your dog when it is hungry and using food as a treat or reward for desirable training outcomes.

If you have decided to include hand signal training in your training regime with your dog it is best to train your dog in one hand signal at a time. Most dogs can learn multiple signals, but as a general rule of thumb a positive response to 8-10 hand signals is considered a good training outcome. When you are investigating how to train dogs and which hand signals to use you should choose one signal per command – teaching your dog three signals for a behavior will confuse him. For example, when teaching your dog to sit use one hand signal, don't use a variety of different signals.

When you begin training with signals you can initially voice your command at the same time. You will find that your dog will learn quickly and may even pick up your hand signal more quickly than your verbal commands.

The benefits of training with hand signals are many – when your dog is off leash at a distance you can signal to him to drop with a single hand command rather than a shout – particularly if he cannot hear you due to distance or weather conditions. If you are speaking with other people or on the phone you do not have to stop to issue a command, you can do so silently and easily without interruption because you understand how to train dogs with hand signals.

How to train dogs with some of the most popular training signals 

If you are teaching your dog to sit, or you have already done so, you may have used the method of placing a treat in front of their nose and raising the treat slightly above their head. This causes the dog’s rump to hit the floor thereby achieving a sit motion. The hand signal mirrors this motion.

Place your hand palm up parallel to the floor in front of the dog’s nose and raise it upwards in a sweeping motion bringing your hand perpendicular to the floor. This command mirrors the action as if you were raising the treat above his head.

This signal needs to be very obvious – if you are needing your dog to drop from a great distance if they are off leash you must be sure that this is not a tiny signal which could get lost over distance.

To achieve the down signal place your hand directly in front of your dog’s face – this can be best described as though you are giving your dog a high five. Your palm should be face out.

A useful trick when teaching the down command is to use one hand to place a treat between your dog’s front paws and give the command with the other hand. With treats involved it won’t take long for your pet to connect the hand signal with the reward.

Most dog owners find that they already perform the stay hand signal instinctively. Place your hand in front of your dog’s nose, palm facing towards the dog and fingers pointing downwards. This works best if your dog is in the heel position beside you and facing the same direction. You can then issue the command and walk away.

When you are calling your dog to come the associated hand signal is a sweeping motion. This is another signal which is important to be interpreted from a great distance.

With your arm perpendicular to your body palm facing out draw your arm in a sweeping motion towards your body as though you are bringing your dog in for a hug. Once you feel more confident using hand signals you can drop the associated voice command to test your dog’s comprehension. Training takes time, and it is important to be consistent with your commands and to reward a desirable training outcome. Your dog will be more responsive and you will have greater confidence to let them off lead knowing you can command your dog from a distance.

When you are beginning, understanding how to train dogs can seem almost impossible, but with patience, a little humor and acceptance that sometimes dogs have off days too you will be rewarded with a well beahaved companion you can take anywhere.


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