Training and Hand Signals
Depending on whether you have taken on the task of training your pup on your own or have enlisted the help of a professional trainer, it’s always a good idea to incorporate “Hand Signals” into your training regime together with verbal commands.
There are many reasons why using and teaching your furry friend to respond to commands by hand signals, as well as verbal commands. If you are in an area where there is excessive noise, your pup may not be able to hear your command or may not understand what you are saying. Also, if you plan on putting your pup into competition, be it conformation or sports, including agility training, hand signals are a must.
As dogs age, they start to lose their hearing and may not always be able to understand what you are saying. If you have adopted a breed of dog that is prone to deafness, such as a Dalmatian, you will be glad that your four legged companion will still be able to understand your commands through hand signals.
In a lot of cases, it can be easier for a pup to learn hand signals as opposed to voice commands. Dogs don’t understand the words we use but learn to respond to certain words when the commands are repeated and the dog is rewarded for obeying a command. Dogs read body language and physical gestures much more easily than they understand words.
In order for hand signals to work, obviously your pup must be looking at you. Use a voice command, a whistle or clicker to get their attention.
Some of the most common hand signals used are “Look” or “Watch Me”, in which case you would use one hand and bring it up and point at your face or eyes with one finger. If you want your pup to “Sit”, you can hold your hand open in front of your chest and move it upwards. If you want your dog to “Come”, bring your hand up and hold it diagonally across your chest. To get your pup to “Lie Down”, hold your finger in front of you horizontally and then slowly turn your wrist in a downward motion to indicate the floor. If you want your pup to “Stay”, hold the palm of your hand in front of your pups’ face and if you want your pup to “Walk” or “Heel”, with your pup sitting or standing at your side, give two taps on the side of your leg and step forward.
There are also other commands you may want to teach your pup but you should first start with the basic and most used signals. Remember that training your pup to respond to hand signals is the same as training them to respond to oral commands and, when used in conjunction with oral commands, you will be rewarded with a well behaved and obedient dog.