January is National Train Your Dog Month, and there’s no better way to celebrate the bond with your puppy than by teaching him a few tricks in exciting new ways. That’s why the Association of Professional Dog Trainers created National Train Your Dog Month in 2010 to remind pet owners to make training their dogs part of their everyday lives.
When it comes to training your dog, there are a number of “clues” that you can use. A “cue” is an incentive that makes your dog perform a certain action or trick, such as sitting or giving you his paw. Many pet parents use voice instructions, but hand signals for dogs are completely underestimated as cues.
In fact, they are one of the most effective cues you can use to train your dog. Hand signals for dogs are easy to teach and use. They are especially useful when teaching deaf or hard of hearing dogs or when training in noisy environments.
Why use Hand Signals for Dogs?
The use of dog hand signals for training is effective because of a dog’s innate nature and tendency to understand body language. “Dogs communicate with each other primarily through body language. Yes, they also use vocal cues, but their body cues are more dominant. If they say they are willing to play or express that they are unfamiliar with something, they can do anything with body positioning,” says Russell Hartstein, CDBC, dog trainer and founder of Fun Paw Care. It only makes sense that dogs learn so well and respond to physical cues.
Using hand signals for dogs during training also helps to minimize user error. Jessica Gore, CPDT-KA, animal behaviorist and founder of Competent Pup, explains: “For the average person, hand signals may be the way to go and definitely provide results. Other forms of training – such as clicker training – require skill and finesse that the average dog person (or trainer) does not always have. “Dog hand signals are easier for you to perform and easier for your dog to understand.
Instructions you can teach your dog with hand signals
Are you ready to learn how to train your dog to respond to hand signals? Here are four simple hand signals for dogs that you can teach your puppy today:
1. Sit down.
Start with your dog in front of you. Hold a tasty treat like Wellness WellBites cereal-free beef and turkey recipe with soft and tough dog delicacies in one hand Use your hand signal with the other hand. To sit, hold your hand over the dog’s head with the palm of your hand facing upwards. “It’s almost like holding an imaginary plate of food over your dog,” says Gore. When your puppy is sitting, give him a dog treat or two and praise him.
To teach a dog the hand signal for down, start with your dog sitting in front of you. Then point to the floor and hold. Gore notes that sometimes a closed fist is used to point down. Regardless of which cue you use, make sure it is consistent and use the general principles described above. Give a reward when he listens to the cue and shower him with praise.
3. come or “goal”
According to Gore, memory clues are sometimes taught with a wave or a hand pointing inward. Another fun hand signal for this behavior is aiming. “In aiming, the person extends their hand or fist, and the dog is taught to aim with their hand “(or to strike, usually with their nose),” says Gore.
Reward your puppy with another doggie treat when he aims for your hand. For more complicated tricks like these that require longer training sessions, you should use smaller dog training deals that are lower in calories, as the BIXBI Pocket – Trainer Chicken Flavor Grain Free Dog deals with.
4. go to bed
Simply point in the direction of the bed to teach your dog to go to bed on a cue. “Unlike some other animals, dogs look where you point instead of at the finger that points,” says Gore. Reward him again with treats and praise if he responds appropriately to your cue.
It’s never too late to teach hand signals to dogs
If your puppy is already familiar with some of these behaviours from the verbal cue (e.g. the word “sit”), it’s not too late to add a hand signal. “To do this, first give the hand signal, then say the word and then reward your pet. If you give the hand signal before the word, your pet will begin to correlate the gesture with the action,” says Hartstein.
Training dogs with hand signals is easy and rewarding. Not only does this give your pet the opportunity to strengthen physical and mental muscles, it also strengthens the bond you share with each other.