The Significance of Different Hand Commands in Dog Training and Misconceptions Around the Use!

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Communication remains pivotal in canine training, enabling the pet and its owner to bond strongly. Vocal commands have been the standard choice so far. However, hand signals soon became another revolutionary communication method for their profound and intuitive impact. The simple hand signals can reshape your interactions with your furry friend in ways unimaginable. Many dog training schools have started incorporating them, realizing their efficiency. So, what do these hand signals mean? These are specific hand gestures to command or guide a dog. The success of this training depends a lot on your pet’s observation skills. Once learned, the dog’s intelligence and alertness will always be high. 

Why have hand signals for dog training become so popular? Suppose you take your dog to a noisy park. The din in the background will interfere with the voice command you give to your pet. But a hand signal can work when you gesture your furry friend to come by your side. Visual cues have been noted to be effective even for dogs participating in sports. Their performance drastically improved. The beauty of this method is its benefits can be enjoyed even by dogs without hearing impairment. The visual commands make their communication channel robust with alternatives. Training them for hand commands also helps with positive reinforcement.On interpreting signals correctly, the dogs feel they have achieved something, which leads to solid bond development with their owners. So, let’s delve more into the universe of teaching hand commands to canines.

The fundamentals of hand signal training

Humans and dogs have similar sensory systems. Like humans, they use their noses and eyes for smell and vision. Hence, one must target the relevant senses in their training methodology. As sound/ vocal commands focus on their hearing power, the hand command instructions should leverage their eyesight. Go, stay, come, sit, and down are some of the most common hand commands pet owners teach their pets. For example, they use their palms to indicate their dogs to go by pointing them forward. Like this, there is a way to guide them with different hand gestures. During training, one must establish proper eye contact with the pet to help them grasp the intended communication. Remember, it may take time for your dog to learn new things. But your dog can pick it up faster if you consistently repeat an action.

It is also essential to practice one command before trying other signals. Give your dog space to adapt to them one by one. You can see a desirable impact in your dog’s behavior and responses with patience.

Popular hand signals

You can teach your dog to wait by putting forward your hand with palms facing out at waist height. It will be a hint for your dog to keep calm and not be impulsive when encountering something stimulating. Sit is another famous cue people like to give to their pets. The usual way to indicate this is by holding the palm up with hands raised at the shoulder level. Some pet owners signal dogs to spin with their hand gestures. It’s done to help them stay focused on you when many other things are happening in the background. It’s also an exciting, fun trick for house parties. How do you ensure your dog does it? You extend one hand in front with a finger pointing forward and moving circularly.

Lay down is the opposite version of ‘sit’ in the context of visual clues and behavior. You pointonefinger up at the chest and move it down diagonally. For rollover action, you can put one arm in front of you with the hand pointing in and the other moving in an arc to hint your pup about what it should do. A vital command like ‘come’ can be gestured by bringing the open hand on your side to the opposite shoulder in a diagonal direction, ensuring the palm touches it. To teach the hand command for stay, you would first want the dog to sit, lie, or stand still. Then, you can outstretch your hand with an open palm and hold it till you signal your pup to release. 

Similarly, fetch is a vital command you can show by pointing the finger at your side and raising it to point toward the object. This cue is also suitable for increasing your canine friend’s focus. Some pet owners also instruct their dogs through hand gestures to raise their front paws while they sit on their hind legs. The standard technique includes outstretching the hands with open palms to the shoulder level. Since most people struggle to keep their dogs focused during play sessions, they can teach dogs the ‘drop it’ command through their hands. They point their hands and fingers downwards, indicating the dog to drop something from their mouth. It’s common for dogs to grab a small critter or something harmful. Training them to drop something immediately from their mouth with your hand movement can be great for their health.

The ways to make dogs understand hand commands

The first thing you need to ensure is a distraction-free environment. The dog should look at you and focus on you entirely. As hinted, teach your furry companion one hand signal or behavior at a time to secure their attention. Establish eye contact with the pet and combine verbal cues with hand signals. Gradually, you can eliminate verbal guidance and use the hand command alone. Your pet can take some extra time to acclimatize to this. Sometimes, you may have to start from the beginning. Please don’t lose hope because it’s an ongoing process.

Once they show the signs of getting the hand signals, you can encourage them to behave in a particular manner by repeating the hand commands or verbal cues at different times. Avoid using the two simultaneously. As your dog improves, you can add more distractions to the environment and expose them to a noisy setup for a higher level of training.

The logic behind the working of hand signals in dog training

While it seems like a magic trick, the effectiveness of hand commands has a lot to do with the dog’s biology and natural tendencies. These offspring of wolves live life in packs. The pack members survive and thrive in the wilderness based on solid communication. Vocalization remains an integral part, but body language plays a predominant role. Whether their ears are perked or their tails positioned in a specific manner, all the posture means something critical. When you train them in hand command, you inadvertently explore their inner connection with the visual cues. You take them back to their natural communication style, which they have used for ages. Yet, some pet parents hesitate to try this method with their dogs. Why? Misconceptions or lack of knowledge are the culprits.

Myth-busting around hand command dog training

People think only professional dog trainers can help pets develop this skill. While it holds, dog owners can master the simple hand signals and patiently practice them with their pets for results. Such sessions always work best for their bond. Others opine that dogs will not respond to vocal cues after learning hand signals. Please don’t believe it. Dogs can follow both efficiently. A few reject the idea of hand command training, thinking it will take more time. Of course, patience and consistency is the key. However, some dogs pick up visual hints faster than voice commands because of their intuitiveness and non-verbal nature. You can notice a vast improvement in their behavior as you introduce them to hand commands daily.

Some would tell you that only puppies can be suitable candidates for this type of learning. While starting anything at an early stage has its perks, old dogs can also learn new things and master them with positive reinforcement.

A few points to remember when teaching hand signals to dogs

You already know the critical aspects of creating a viable environment for this type of training. Still, repeating and remembering them is essential to achieving success in your endeavor. As such, hand command can be the most efficient communication tool between you and your innocent companion in a crowded outdoor area where safety concerns remain high. So, train your pup or canine. Get its attention so that it observes the signals. The commands for each behavior should be simple and consistent. Use them at the precise time to protect your dog from getting confused. Also, conflicting signals should be avoided. You should avoid using the same hand motion to indicate your little friend should come or that it’s playtime. Hand commands come in handy in practical and obedience training. At the same time, it’s helpful for your dog’s mental health. This training involves their cognitive power to figure out different signals. When they succeed, your praise excites their mind, allowing them to be mentally agile. You two get an opportunity to understand and trust each other more.Indeed, the initial phase of the journey will be fraught with challenges. However, things will eventually fall into place with little patience and persistence.

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