Is Using Hand Signals to Train Your Dog Helpful?

by | May 27, 2024

Is Using Hand Signals to Train Your Dog Helpful

Have you been wondering “Is using hand signals to train your dog helpful?”  I will for one, advise that this is an important tool for your dog!

If you have been involved in discussions around this subject, most of the literature out there mostly points to the use of voice commands.  Yes, this is important too.  Many a time I have been in a different location from my dog and have found it necessary to use verbal instruction to alert my dog that I need him or her to come to me or to distract them from what I am aware that they are doing at that particular point in time.

For example, they may be using their voices to alert me that it is dinner time, I would then call them to me with the voice cue ‘come’ and give them a job to do.  I may ask my dog for a Sit, or I may indicate to them that it is best to stay with me.  I may choose to use my voice to ask for a Sit or I may call my dog to my side and give them a friendly pat.  My dog then knows that this is the signal to stay with me.

Dogs are very aware of movement and respond to movement constantly.  For instance, there is a small gap under my fence and my dog knows that there is a cat that lives on the other side of the fence.  My dog is super alert for any movement or shadow that is detected through this gap, the minute my dog has been alerted to movement through this gap, my dog immediately runs to this spot.

Knowing this, the question, “Is using hand signals to train your dog helpful?” makes us stop and reconsider this question.

Of course, even though my dog is unable to get to the cat that may have moved past this gap, that is of no consequence.  My dog is now super eager to see more movement, just in case the cat can be in full view.  It amazes me, how long my dog is willing to stay glued to this spot under the fence, just in case this knowing cat comes into view again.

Another point, is, that when my dogs are outside during the day, if they see any movement through the glass doors that is happening inside, they are immediately alert, hoping that I may come outside to be with them.

They are also experts at seeing what expressions are on your face, seeing and understanding your body movements simply by observing your every move.  They have you summed up quite easily and understand before you even do, what your next movement may be.

Say, I am in a leash-free area, where my dogs are happily running around, and I would like them to come back to me for a check-in, but not necessarily to curb their freedom and take them home.  If they have been looking out for me, all I need to do is wave my hands about and they will come running back to me.  Of course, I reward them for this, I have yummy treats ready for them to enjoy upon their return.

Once they have checked in, I can then send them off to play again.

I can hear you saying, “What if they are not looking in your direction?”, here is where a verbal command together with my waving arms is the best strategy to use.

Also, be aware that you may be in a noisy environment with your dog, and your dog will not easily hear your voice command, this is where a response to your hand signal comes in handy.

Bearing in mind your thought “Is using hand signals to train your dog helpful”, you can now know and understand that hand signals do have a significant part to play in everyday life with your treasured companion.

I practice both training aspects with my dogs, hand signals and voice cues, as I need to know that my dogs are well-trained in all aspects.  Dog training is so rewarding and fun!

Until next time…

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With Love, Success and Inspiration,

Robin Oliver

Robin Oliver Pet Dog Training
Professional Dog Trainer

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