As a dog owner, you probably already know how important it is to make sure that your dog can respond to commands. Commands aren’t just for tricks, after all; instead, commands are vital tools that you can use to keep your dog and others safe. What’s important, though, is that you learn the proper way to give your dog those commands.
Though verbal commands can be great, it’s often a good idea to learn basic hand signals for dogs. The goal is the same, though – you need to learn how to best communicate with your dog. Luckily, this article will teach you the basics.
Why Teach Your Dog with Hand Signal?
There are plenty of reasons to choose to use hand signals for commands. The most obvious is that you might need to give your dog a command when he or she cannot hear you. This is especially important for older dogs, as it can be harder for them to make out your words as they get older and their hearing starts to fail. With that said, it’s also often easier for dogs to figure out hand signals than verbal command – dogs don’t really understand words, but they’re great at reading body language.
This doesn’t mean that hand signals are perfect, though. You can only use your hand signals when your dog is looking directly at you and when he or she is paying attention, so you’ll want to make sure you use a combination of both voice and signal commands when training your dog to ensure that your he is able to follow your instructions. Fortunately, teaching your dog both doesn’t have to be a struggle.
The Essential Hand Signals for Dog Training
As you might imagine, it’s very possible to train your dog to use whatever signals that you might like in order to teach him or her commands. There are, however, a series of hand signals that are almost universally recognized by human trainers as being easier for dogs to understand. If your dog can master these ten signals, you’ll be off to a fantastic start.
If you’re going to give your dog a hand signal, you have to get his or her attention first. Doing this can be as easy as pointing to your eye with a single finger as a sign that it’s time to start paying attention.
Sit is the first command most dogs learn and one of the most important. The signal to sit is simple – hold your hand straight out in front of you, palm facing up, and move it in an upwards motion.
This is a vital command for calming your dog down or keeping him or her safe. Hold a finger in front of you horizontally, then flick it down towards the floor to show your dog that it’s time to lie down.
This is the other big command that tends to work with sit and lay. You’ll simply hold your palm out in front of you with it oriented down and towards your dog to complete this command.
This is a great command for training your dog to come when called. Place your hand at your side with your palm facing forward, then move it diagonally up and towards your opposite shoulder to signal to your dog that it’s time to move.
Ready for your dog to stop sitting or lying down? Simply hold your arm at your side with a forward-facing palm and then move it backward quickly – this will tell your dog that it’s okay to get up.
Heeling is another one of those master commands that’s vital for your dog’s safety. There are two versions of this command – one requires you to tap your hip with your hand, while the other requires you to move your hand in a circle near your hip. Either one, though, will let your dog know that it’s time to come close and calm down.
If you’re trying to get your dog to pick something up, you’ll need to use this signal. The ‘take’ signal involves holding your hand out with your palm open, then closing your palm to symbolize the action of taking.
Along with taking comes the drop. Drop is vital if you’re looking to get your dog to let go of something, so make sure you practice this one. As you might expect, this signal is the opposite of taking – hold out your fist, then open your hand.
Finally, there’s the command to let your dog know that you’re going to stop giving him or her commands. This move looks an awful lot like a shrug – you’re just going to hold your hand near your shoulders with your palm up. When you are done, your dog should feel comfortable going about his or her business.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the 7 basic dog commands?
While there are many basic dog commands, there are definitely seven that you’re going to want to get down in order to keep your dog safe and to make sure that you can keep others around him or her safe. The first two are the two commands that most dog owners know – sit and down. Next are the always useful pair of commands that are staying and come, followed by the heel and off. Finally, your dog should know the ever-useful command that is ‘no’ in order to make sure that he or she doesn’t get into something that could get him or her in trouble or that could cause the dog harm.
2. How do I teach my dog hand signals?
Teaching your dog hand signals is really a matter of learning to be patient and working with your dog. The basic process is one of conditioning your dog to associate the hand signal with a reaction and then to associate that reaction with positive feedback. You’ll show your dog the gesture, help him or her do the action, and then give him or her a reward. It should be noted that successful dog training always involves taking the time to give your dog positive feedback and that using any kind of punishment will not only not help your dog learn, but doing so will actually set back his or her progress.
3. What does a closed fist mean to a dog?
A closed fist can mean a few different things to a dog, depending on how he or she is trained. For some dogs, the closed fist means to drop something. Just to make things a little more confusing, though, that same closed fist can teach other dogs that it is time to pick something up. It’s usually the order of actions that matters, though – drop usually has a closed fist followed by an open palm, while pick up usually has an open palm followed by a closed fist. As you might imagine, this can be a difficult signal for some dogs to pick up.
4. What is the dog command for sit?
The dog command for sit is one of the first ones that you should learn and it is often one of the easiest for your dog to pick up. You’ll simply hold your arm out in front of you with your palm open and facing up. Then just bring your hand up quickly and back towards your body. While this might feel like it’s showing your dog to do the opposite of what he or she is supposed to do, the truth is that most dogs can understand this signal fairly easily.
5. 10 Essential Hand Signals For Dogs In Training And How To Use Them
The ten essential dog training signals are as follows: sit, stay, lay, down, come, pick up, drop, heel, up, and free. Each of these signals tells your dog to do exactly what they say, and each is relatively easy to master. The best way to use them is when your dog is looking directly at you and when he or she isn’t distracted by something else. If your dog is distracted, has trouble seeing, or isn’t looking at you, you’ll want to combine the hand signals with verbal cue to get your dog to obey you.