Why Dog Hand Signals are Better Than Verbal Commands – TheDogTrainingSecret.com


Dog coaching hand alerts have been round as lengthy, in time, as canine obedience and canine coaching.  Verbal instructions should not at all times “where it is at” with regards to canine coaching and canine habits.

And, having been a profitable skilled canine coach for over 25 years and dealing with all the pieces from Service Dogs, to Police Dogs to Cheetahs; I’m a agency believer that to show your canine fundamental hand alerts is essential to having a effectively skilled companion or good canine.

Let us acknowledge that generally you will be in the midst of a dialog together with your important different, or a good friend, or anybody and you will must impart a hand sign to speak together with your canine; slightly than shouting an inappropriate verbal command or cue.  And, you will need good habits to comply with with out that loud verbal cue.  No one needs to shout “QUIET” or “DOWN” when they’re the telephone concerned in a critical dialog with somebody you care about.

So allow us to start by explaining just a little extra to the purpose about why your canine must be taught some canine coaching hand alerts and why it should truly enhance your canine obedience.

Dogs Understand Dog Hand Signals Better

I do know, I do know… I’ve mentioned this earlier than in different canine coaching articles; however you will need to keep in mind that canine don’t truly communicate Human, or English or Dutch or French (choose your poison right here).

They don’t spring from the womb understanding no matter our chosen language is within the nation we reside.

I do know, that looks as if widespread data, however you don’t have any concept how many individuals throughout my in residence coaching that I’ve to remind of this straightforward “fact”.

Just yesterday I used to be on the residence of a 10 week outdated Shetland Sheepdog pet.  His new pretty canine house owners have solely had him for every week and he’s admittedly nonetheless adjusting!  Thankfully, they employed me, a canine coach, to assist them set him up for achievement.

Dad was excited to indicate me how he was working with the brand new bundle of fur, and mother was over the moon in love with him already.  But each have been shouting English instructions at him.  I personally like to take a seat again and consider the present scenario and see how canine house owners work together with their pup earlier than I come to too many conclusions.  Then we sit and focus on issues and questions and eventually get round to the issues or considerations I’ve witnessed or am having.

After attending to know each other for a little bit of time, I requested if they’d skilled him with the phrases they have been utilizing?  One of which was the husband saying, “stay, stay, stay, stay, stay” as he hopelessly tried to again as much as name the pet.  They each admitted that they actually had not.

You don’t want knowledgeable canine coach to let you know that this pet doesn’t perceive the verbal instructions and verbal cues his house owners try to show him.  Will he be taught?  Eventually, most likely, sure.  But it is going to be a tough and complicated path for him.  First he must be helped and taught our language by way of markers and positive reinforcement.

If you wish to talk with higher and extra correct talent immediately, with a brand new pup or an grownup canine that has had no coaching.  Employing visible cues and fundamental hand sign and hand gestures s is the quickest best means to assist them be taught and succeed.

Dogs Speak with Body Language

Another cause that canine hand alerts are extra essential whereas successfully speaking with them is as a result of canine and puppies talk with one another by way of a fancy physique language.

Sure, canine bark and verbally talk; however it’s pretty uncommon with and within the presence of each other.  Most of the time all it takes is a glance or a physique posture for one canine or pet to speak with one other.

Some canine are extra vocal than others, however growls and barks are sometimes reserved for an escalation when physique language and physique posturing shouldn’t be working successfully.

It is just pure for a canine or a younger pup to disregard verbal instructions and verbal command (to start with, earlier than you successfully educate your canine) however thrive on visible cues, eye contact and verbal instructions.

Have you ever seen how a lot time and the way typically a younger pet will look you within the eye?  If you aren’t utilizing optimistic reinforcement to reward this and educate your canine this habits on cue, you’re lacking out on a serious means that he’s onerous wired to speak with you.  And, in case you don’t add this to your canine obedience coaching routine (on cue) you’ll lose it fully as a result of the canine learns that this isn’t the way you talk and this habits shouldn’t be rewarding to him.

Be positive to reward consideration and eye contact!  Then, as the next step put it on, a minimum of, verbal command!

We Don’t Give Hand Signals with No Meaning

And, but, another reason that coaching canine with signal language or hand alerts is that we don’t have a tendency to provide hand alerts that don’t have any which means to the canine.

How typically to you speak randomly or babble to your canine?

Do not misunderstand me, I’m under no circumstances judging, as a result of I do it on a regular basis.

I’ve lengthy drawn out conversations with my canine in regards to the climate, my job, my relationships, and all the pieces else I’m considering.  Of course!  Because I’m a verbal mammal and they’re my close to fixed companions.  Who else would I inform my deepest secrets and techniques too?

But, it’s important to perceive out of your canine’s perspective (since he actually doesn’t perceive you) he begins to disregard your loving babbling with loving stares within the distance or simply having fun with the moments of being with you.  By verbally communication with our canine, typically, we desensitize them a bit to speech and due to this fact verbal instructions.

It shouldn’t be the worst factor on the planet so long as your instructions sound barely completely different than your dissertation on what occurred at work that day.  But you’ll be able to perceive that when coaching canine, fundamental hand alerts might be simpler together with your canine.

Deaf Dogs

The different fast point out, the place you’ll merely HAVE to be taught fundamental hand alerts and even American Sign Language is when you find yourself working with a deaf canine!  Your canine coaching instructions will educate your canine,  nothing.

These canine thrive on bodily contact for consideration, stomping of toes (additionally to get their consideration) and hand alerts or signal language.

Do not fear if you find yourself adopting or shopping for a deaf canine or deaf pet.  You can nonetheless speak to them and impart your entire deepest secrets and techniques, identical to the remainder of us do.   But utilizing your fingers, your left hand, your proper hand and your coaching hand will develop into essential to successfully communication between the 2 of you.

We have a number of deaf canine that come into the veterinary clinic, the place I’m a vet tech.  Each time to go to take one among these canine to the again for diagnostics or a nail trim, their house owners will remind us that the canine can’t hear and is certainly deaf.  I at all times reassure the house owners that we do know that info and maintain it in our computer systems however we’ll nonetheless speak to them alongside the way in which!  Because when you find yourself speaking kindly, you’re additionally smiling and utilizing the physique language that they’ve come to know at residence with their loving house owners, with out even desirous about it.

If you’re battling a deaf canine, finding a professional dog trainer that makes use of optimistic reinforcement might be an awesome funding to analyze.  Do not fall prey to the canine trainers who wish to use shock collars on these very valuable canine, these strategies can scare your canine and educate your canine to not belief you.

So now that we’ve mentioned the “why’s” of utilizing hand alerts and you’re excited and able to transfer ahead and to show your canine fundamental hand alerts, allow us to focus on the “how’s”!  Training your canine could take a while however with optimistic reinforcement, educating and steering you’ll love these new “hand commands” or hand alerts!

In order to show your canine these are the 2 guidelines, in keeping with me and my expertise as knowledgeable canine coach who has competed efficiently and received titles and trophies, labored with deaf canine and been a coach for thus a few years.  Learn from my ample expertise.


Size, to me, is without doubt one of the most essential facets to show your canine fundamental hand alerts and even superior hand alerts.

I typically work my canine off leash at a distance (particularly when doing canine agility or different canine sports activities) and even in locations that permit off leash coaching and canine strolling (like canine pleasant mountaineering trails and canine pleasant seashores).  If my hand alerts are small, like utilizing one finger, my canine can’t see that when he’s off leash and from a distance.

Most typically I see this with the “Down” hand command.  People start educating their pet with rewards and optimistic reinforcement and luring them to the bottom with their hand and their finger.  Naturally, for the human, the hand sign turns into getting within the canine’s face to get his ongoing consideration and gesturing to the bottom.  The canine learns and is conditioned that the canine proprietor has a reward and he learns to drop to the bottom when he sees this visible cue.

However, I would be the first to let you know that in case your hand instructions require that you just get into the canine’s withstand your canine’s nostril to get his consideration after which the hand gesture is as small as drawing your canine’s nostril to the bottom, you’ll not have an correct “Down” hand sign when he’s off leash!  In order to show your canine, the hand sign have to be giant.

If your canine is 50 yards away he can’t see your visible cue.  He would possibly be capable to hear a shout or a whistle to get his consideration… however from there you’re at a loss.

Let me clarify from expertise.  I used to must canine that have been very social and good off leash.  At the time, I lived in Georgia and close to a number of seashores they have been allowed to be off leash on throughout sure occasions of day and season.  One day they have been out taking part in within the waves with their ball, most likely 100 yards away, and I noticed a automotive coming.  It was not coming instantly towards them… however I used to be apprehensive that they could inadvertently run in entrance of it and get run over.  I didn’t count on the proprietor or driver of the car to note them frolicking within the waves.  There was no means I might make it to them even when I had ran.  And, I didn’t wish to name them for worry they’d veer in entrance of the car and each be hit by the automotive.

I used to be capable of whistle to get their consideration after which ship my hand sign in order that they’d stay in place and protected whereas the automotive handed.  And, I might get to them.

If you ever need an off leash canine, it’s essential have BIG and substantial hand alerts.


Consistency can also be crucial with any canine coaching behaviors or canine coaching instructions however particularly with hand alerts.

Because canine are such visible creatures and depend on physique language to speak, this makes it much more tough for them to grasp and educate your canine in case you are not being constant together with your hand alerts and your which means therein.  They are rather more forgiving in case you often get a phrase improper.

I bear in mind having my first police canine in coaching dwelling with me, his language of alternative was German and he was fairly good (having been imported with plenty of expertise).  I took him residence one weekend to satisfy my dad and mom.   I used to be happy to exhibit his coaching and instructions to them and even catch him within the chunk swimsuit.  My dad and mom eagerly requested about his instructions and I ran by way of them with excited accuracy.  Then my mom virtually died ha ha.  Although she didn’t understand it on the time.  I’ll spell his instructions phonetically for you so you’ll be able to see how shut they’re; his down command was “platz” and his chunk command was “pocken” very comparable in case you aren’t working the canine or paying consideration.  She bought up in his face and whispered “pocken” “pocken”.  His face was priceless as he realized she was misinformed and he laid down.

Let’s get on with some fundamental hand alerts so that you could be use your newly discovered info in a constructive method.

Basic Hand Signals

My hand alerts typically differ from these you see in AKC obedience or different sorts of obedience.  It doesn’t actually matter what you employ so long as you’re constant!

I’ll point out, if you wish to compete in excessive stage AKC or UKC obedience trials, you should utilize hand alerts OR verbal instructions, however not each.  So practice each onerous and determine which your canine excels at one of the best earlier than you compete.

Now seize some tasty rewards and treats and your canine and his leash and let’s get began.


Teaching your canine to take a seat needs to be fairly simple.

The “sit” sign is without doubt one of the few hand alerts that the majority canine know, with out their house owners actually realizing that they’ve taught it.

It begins by utilizing the deal with and placing it to your canine’s nostril and slowly drawing the deal with, upward.  As the canine follows the deal with together with his nostril, his rump will naturally descend into the “sit” place.

Of course as he sits inform him what he’s doing and launch the deal with.  This hand sign is pretty pure, besides as you start to make use of it as a visible cue and as he understands the verbal command, it’s best to make it larger for him to see by maintaining your fingers collectively, palm up and making a sweeping motion up towards the ceiling or towards the sky and utilizing the verbal command that you just already taught him.  The two collectively will solidify that this barely completely different visible cue is the brand new hand sign for “Sit”.

It doesn’t matter in case you use your left hand or your proper hand.


I talked about this earlier than however didn’t go into nice element in regards to the hand sign.  I figured I might get to that now in order that it’s in a concise space for canine house owners to evaluate at a later time if wanted.

As talked about, I do use tasty deal with rewards and get my pet’s consideration by placing it by the canine’s nostril.  If he isn’t sitting, I like to recommend that you just try to get him into sit place as a result of that can make it simpler in your pup and also you.  Putting his rump up instantly in entrance of a wall helps too.  From right here I take advantage of the reward to attract the pet or canine’s nostril down and barely in towards his  elbow.  This ought to assist

him crumple down and in.  Once he learns the habits and the cue together with your assist.  Or learns the cue with capturing I start so as to add my hand sign.  I take advantage of the hand sign with my hand instantly in entrance of him palm down however fingers towards the ceiling.  It ought to appear like STOP or some folks use the hand sign for STAY.  But I prefer it for Down as a result of it’s large and simple to see.  Want to make it extra spectacular in measurement, you’ll be able to sweep that hand towards the bottom in order that your canine sees the movement from a distance.

Again, it doesn’t matter in case you use your left hand or your proper hand.


Come is one other essential hand sign for a canine that could be a distance away!  Most puppies are hopefully studying this command or cue early in life.  To make it this enjoyable, I like utilizing my proper hand and arm.  I make a 90 diploma angle parallel with the ground and sweep that hand, palm going through towards my tummy in and towards my physique.  I take advantage of the proper hand to hopefully encourage the canine both in entrance of me or to my left facet for heel place.


Remember that we talked earlier about consistency.  Be positive that your STAY hand sign seems completely different than your down hand sign, or you’ll confuse your canine!

I take advantage of my palm, going through towards my canine however with my fingers pointed down towards the bottom.  And I take advantage of a fast however tight motion towards my canine’s nostril as I give the cue in a no nonsense fasion!

Hand alerts, when executed with accuracy and good timing, will flip any canine into a superb canine.

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