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3 Surprising Reasons to Teach Your Dog Hand Signals

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Teaching our dog hand signals also allows us to communicate with our dog from a distance, which can be critical in an emergency situation. For example, if our dog was off lead and had moved quite far away from us and then something dangerous entered into the environment, such as a tractor on a field, we could give a clear hand signal to our dog and ask for an emergency stop or sit until we catch up with them. In such circumstances, dogs can rarely hear you and this can complicate recall, however, by teaching them hand signals you can keep the lines of communication open and keep your dog safe. 
So what hand signals can you teach your dog? Well, you can use any hand signals as long as its specific and consistent to a particular cue. For example, I use an upward hand signal to ask for a sit and a downward hand signal to cue a down. To gain my dogs eye contact (watch me cue), I use my index finger and hold it to my eye line. For emergency stops, I raise my arm high above my head with my palm facing out and for recall, I hold both arms out to the side like an aeroplane and then rotate them in circles. This just gives you a brief idea of what hand signals you can teach your dog but the options are endless, so be creative.

 To effectively train using hand signals, you need to start adding them to your verbal cues by demonstrating the hand signal at the same as you say the cue. As you practice and repeat the hand signals, your dog will soon learn what they mean, especially when they are paired with a tasty treat. In order to determine if they understand your hand signals, you can practice what is called “silent training”, which means giving the hand signal without the verbal cue. This will help you to ascertain if your dog understands the hand signal or if they need more practice.





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