When you train your dog with hand signals, you’re basically using a form of nonverbal communication with them. Not only is this a great dog training alternative to spoken commands, it’s also highly effective and efficient.
Hand signal training is the best way to train your dog nonverbally, because it’s versatile, easy to do, and easily visible to your pet. Once you’ve established a ‘language’ with dog hand signals, it could be your very own shared code for implementing good dog behavior anywhere you go.
Here, we’ll talk about 4 ways how you can easily train your dog with simple hand signals. You may practice these at home or when you take your do out for a walk. For this to be most effective, you’ll need a regular schedule for training, consistency with your gestures, and a good reward system.
Some of the basic dog hand signals that you may want to implement include:
- Come here
- Roll over
- Speak (bark)
You may determine the type of hand gestures to use, but make sure they can be simply executed in one or two motions. Some commonly used gestures for hand signal training are:
- An outstretched palm facing away from you and facing the dog (sit/stay)
- Motioning with your hand towards the ground with your palm facing down (sit/stay)
- A beckoning motion with your fingers moving towards you (come here)
- Holding a small object above your head while shaking it from side to side (fetch)
- Making an arc-shaped motion over the ground (roll over)
- Making a talking motion with your fingers facing the dog (speak/bark)
Of course, you may deviate from these motions. Just keep them consistent with the actions your want to train your dog to do, and make sure that they don’t coincide with other everyday gestures you use with other people around you.
Start Them Young
Training your dog should start from puppyhood. This will establish the idea in him that dog hand signals is the norm in your househould. It will also save you both the trouble of breaking any future bad habits that may learn.
First, observe your pup’s behavior around you so you can incorporate hand signal training into his regular routine. For example:
- If he follows you around the house, that means he wants attention. You can give him this desired attention and affection when he follows your gesture to ‘come here,’ ‘sit,’ or ‘stay.’
- You may also implement the same hand gestures for ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ during feeding times, particularly if he gets extremely excitable when anticipating food.
- In fact, training your dog during instances that excite him too much may help curb future misbehavior. Some of these may include walking through doors at home, jumping on the couch, preparing for a bath, preparing for a walk, or when he sees something that he wants to chase but shouldn’t during a walk.
Ideally, it is best to start hand signal training with your dog when he’s 6 months old.
Just like with any other method for training your dog, hand signal training works best with good reward system. Positive reinforcement is the best way to encourage good dog behavior, rather than punishing your pet for breaking rules he doesn’t understand.
- Start off with a small treat that he likes, plus verbal reinforcement and an affectionate geture like petting his head whenever he follows your command gesture.
- When he’s started to follow your dog hand signals correctly without mistakes, start weaning him off the treats but continue to reward him with praise and affection. You don’t want him to work for food.
- Later, slowly wean him off the verbal praise and simply reward his good dog behavior with physical affection. The point is to train your dog to respond to purely nonverbal cues, both with the command and the reward.
Remember, your dog wants to please you so show him appreciation whenever he behaves well.
Nothing beats consistency when it comes to good dog training. Set aside a daily schedule dedicated to teaching him dog hand signals – 30 to 45 minutes will do.
Make sure that when you train your dog, he’s not hungry, tired, or agitated. The same goes for you. Your pet will easily pick up on your emotional state so if you’re stressed, sad, distracted, or in a general foul mood, it will definitely come across in your daily practice routine.
That said, it’s always better to set a time for dog training during the day when you and your dog are both alert, happy, and bushy-tailed.
Use the Same Specific Motion Every Time
This is another part where consistency is crucial. Whichever motions and gestures you choose for your dog hand signals, keep them the same every single time.
Your pet is sensitive to your movements especially in relation to him, so each command gesture you make must be the same to avoid confusing him. If you say ‘Sit’ while showing him an outstretched palm facing him, you cannot tell him to sit next time with your palm facing downwards.
This is why it is important to take time to consider the specific command gestures you want to teach your pet long before the actual dog training starts. You’ll need to get used to associating the gesture with the command; it may also help if you practice the gestures on your own first.
As with any kind of dog training module, it’s far better to form good habits than to break them. Your pet is extremely receptive to whatever you teach him, and this is a wonderful opportunity for him to learn while bonding with you!
If you’re already keen on training your dog with spoken commands, you’ll find that dog hand signals will also be helpful in keeping Fido well-behaved in and out of the house.
So try out these tips on hand signal training now! You’ll find that they’ll eventually come in handy in reinforcing good dog behavior when you’re too busy, ill, preoccupied to voice out spoken commands to your pooch. Trust us, it’s worth it.