Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Training Tip: Importance of Hand Signals in Training

Dogs are usually picking up on our subtle and not-so-subtle body movements and gestures more than they are listening to our words. Nothing escapes them.  If you blink your eye, move your hand a certain way, lean in, you name it and they will notice it! It makes sense because dogs use posture and position to communicate non-verbally with each other; think: play bow, groveling/submissive posture, turning back and facing another direction.  I learned this while reading works by renowned dog behavior expert, Patricia McConnel, PhD and then seen it at work during my own training.

You can see me using hand signals and body language in these two videos, notice I am consistent:

I firmly believe that when you train your dog, try to be very conscious, deliberate, and clear about how you are moving so you'll be consistent with your signals.  It will improve your success and help your dog understand you more clearly.

Before you get your puppy watch some youtube videos and decide on how and what signals you will use to train your dog.  Think about something that will come naturally to you and that is usually the best choice.  Same thing with the verbal command, try to use the same word and pick a word in advance.

Another good reason to do it: Age proofing your dog
Another good reason to use hand signals is because if/when your dog becomes hard of hearing, you can still give it instructions.

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