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Hey guys, non-dog-owner here looking to learn some training skills before I get my dog. I have a few questions about training a dog with verbal and visual cues.

1. Should I make sure my commands all have different vowel sounds? I heard that dogs recognize the vowels more than anything else and was wondering how important it is to have dissimilar commands.
-1a. Is there a list of commands I should use(one that uses all unique-sounding commands)?

2.What sort of hand/body signals should I use? Are there specific signals that work better than others?

3. Should I use speech and hand signals for every trick? Which is more important/easier to learn?

I think that's everything! If you have any advice or links to share about command training that'd be great!
 

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Clicker training is, imo, the easiest thing for dogs to learn that what they are doing is correct. Say you are trying to teach 'sit', you can lure your dog into a sit with a treat (or whatever else works) and then click as soon as she sits. After she understands what it is you want her to do, then you can start adding 'sit' to the lure, so she will associate the word with the action. A lot of people make the mistake of repeating a word over and over and over before the dog knows the trick, and then the word is meaningless.

Kikopup has some great training videos on youtube.. Here's a link to her channel.

http://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup?blend=1&ob=4
 

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I don't know that it really matters what words you use... there are pretty typical English words that most trainers use (sit, down, stay or wait, off(to get off of something or get all four feet on the floor instead of 'down' off of the couch, etc. since 'down' means lie down), leave it, here or come, look or watch me, heel). But even in that list there are choices that are personal preferance to the owner. So I don't think it really matters. Some people even use German or whatever langauge they want.

As far as verbal vs. visual, dogs are much more visual. They are always watching our body language more so than listening to our "blah blah blah." So I would definitely use a hand signal first (if possible). You can use whatever hand signal/body language you want, but usually it ends up morphing from whatever you are doing with the treat to lure the dog. For example, for sit you put the treat in front of the dog's nose, then raise it up and back so they sit down. For most people that translates into raising their hand up as the visual cue for sit. Once the dogs "gets it," add the verbal cue.

And I agree with Binkalette, the clicker is a wonderful tool!! :)
 

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I love my clicker too...
We don't use clickers in the puppy class I assist with though, we do mostly lure and reward for two to three reps, then just the hand movement (without the lure in the hand) and then add the verbal cue. There's a great sticky in the first time dog owner's forum here about fading the lure. It's easier for dogs to understand your movements before your words..so they learn the hand signal first and once they are doing it with a clear understanding we add the cue, then eventually move to simply the verbal (over a period of time...good things come to one's who are patient!). Dogs are watching us very closely so we must be clear with our signals, to not confuse the dog.
 

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It's always good to put a signal with a cue. If you're worried about cues sounding too similarly, you can always use different signals.

From personal experience, I wouldn't really worry about similar sounding cues. When I'm walking Willow and she stops to sniff something for a long time, I say "Come on" in a pleasant voice, and we start walking again. When we're outside or in the home, and I say "Come here," she comes. There's a one word difference, but she knows the difference. Only one of those phrases has a signal, and isn't always used either. Hope that helps. :)
 
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