Training your dog to respond to hand signals is a handy way to communicating with your dog. It is especially helpful if you are unable to give a verbal command. The truth is most dogs learn hand signals much faster than commands because of their natural instinct to communicate via body language.
Hand signals are useful when:
- Interacting with your Dog from a distance too far to use verbal commands.
- Guiding your Dog through sports competitions in which hand signals are permitted.
- Getting your Dog’s attention when you are busy speaking with others or doing other activities.
- Communicating with a deaf or hearing impaired dog.
Tips on Training Your Dog To Respond To Hand Signals
There are numerous hand signals you can teach your dog to respond to. As with all types of dog training, it’s essential to begin with the basics. These are Sit, Down, Stay, and Come commands. Once your dog easily obeys these, you can begin to include additional common commands, such as Stand, Heel, Take It, Eye Contact, Go To, Drop It, and Free.
Sit Hand Signal
It is important to begin dog training with the sit hand signal. It is generally the simplest for dogs and puppies to master. Most people place their hand flat with the palm facing upwards for the sit command. You will need to encourage your dog to sit, by having him or her follow a treat starting from ground level until your hand is in the sit signal just above your dog’s head. Reward your pup as soon as he sits and repeat the process.
Down Hand Signal
Making the use of a hand gesture that goes downward for the Down hand signal might seem like the clear option. But it is not recommended because your dog won’t be in a position to see it from a distance. Because of this, most people use a hand signal identical to the way you position your hand when giving a high five.
Place a treat in front of your dog with one hand, while raising your other hand to the “high five” position. Reward your dog instantly when he or she lies down. It might take quite a bit of repetition, but with a little encouragement it will not be long before your dog has perfected the signal.
Stay Hand Signal
The Stay signal is most frequently given by placing your palm right in front of your dog’s nose with the tip of your fingers facing the floor. You can practice this hand signal by telling your dog to sit and then signaling him or her to stay, followed by a reward. As your pup becomes acquainted with the signal, you may want to extend the period he or she stays in the sit position.
Come Hand Signal
For the Come hand signal, it’s useful if your dog already knows the verbal Come command. All you need to do is to say “come” while bending your elbow and curling your hand toward the opposite side of your body in front of you. Repeat this a few times, and then practice without using the verbal command until your furry friend is comfortable with the hand signal.