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I read about this in the book The Other End of the Leash. When telling my husband about it he said the dog they had when he was a kid was trained with hand signals. He remembered what they used for "stay" and "lay down" but not for "sit" or anything else.

Does anyone here use hand signals when giving commands to their dog? Is it better, or does it really matter?
 

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First, it doesn't matter as long as you're consistent, unless you need the dog to pay attention to other people's hand signals. For example, my natural gestures are index finger up for Sit, finger down for Down, hand level palm up, waving fingers for Come, two fingers out to emphasize stay, palm down, waving fingers for Crawl, Pointing at a paw to raise it, or hand out for a handshake, Stand is similar to Come, but just a single motion, not a wave.

I think the formal signals were: Come - Arm at side raised to opposite shoulder; Sit - Raise Arm, palm up to mid chest; Down - Lower arm, palm down from about shoulder to about horizontal.
 

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I use hand signals as well as verbal cues. Sometimes I just use a hand signal other times, I do both. For sit, my signal is very much like the motion I used to teach her to sit with a lure. Thumb, index, middle fingers together (like I'm holding a treat), back of hand up with wrist pointed downward. When I flick my wrist up, that's her cue to sit. I do the opposite for down. Fingers in same position but palm is up and I draw the hand away, like pulling the lure away to get her to go down when training "down." For stay, I hold my hand up with fingers all together, palm showing just like you would do to a human you're trying to signal to stop. "Wait" is cued by a quick back/forth wave of my hand about 5" from her snout. But, like hanksimon said, it doesn't really matter what signal you use as long as you are consistent.
 

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Awesome question! I would say in a complete training program yes I would use both...

It always comes down to the owner!

Most trainers use both for many reasons for distant work and sports , agility , tracking, trieball, working dogs, service dogs, etc to name a few.

It's another way to communicate with the dog as they read body language better then verbal.

Me I personnaly teach bot for all the above reasons and most important to me is if my dog ever went blind or deaf I can communicate with my buddy :)
 

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My experience in agility is that most dogs naturally interpret body language more easily than words. If given the choice, I'd pick hand signals over verbal cues.
 

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I've trained many dogs to hand signals. I use whatever signal is most natural and comfortable for me along with a verbal command. The verbals are eventually phased out with the dogs being directed by signals only.
I love handle signals for those times the dogs are off leash and may be too far to hear me clearly. I have also had severe laryngitis a few times where I completely lost my voice for nearly a month and those hand signals were right on time.
 

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I prefer to always train both, though Kabota does much better with hand signals. It doesn't really matter what you use, as long as everyone uses the same signals.

For sit, I extend my arm out, hand in a fist and pull my fist up, bending my arm at the elbow.

Down, I point at the floor and move my hand down.

Stay is a typical "stop" gesture, arm extended, hand up, palm toward the dog.

Up I just raise my arm up, palm open and facing the ceiling.

Spin I point I at the floor and make a circle with my arm.

Come Here is the typical two handed gesture of moving your arms toward you like you would with a person.

Move (off the couch, usually), I point to Kabota, then in the direction I'd like him to go.
 

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I train for both but insist the dog has to know the hand signal before the word cue is added. We use a combination of luring and shaping for the sit and drop but the hand signal is best taught with a lure. For the sit, the treat is held in front of dogs nose and lifted in a curve over his head and in line with his back so his head comes up and bum goes down.

For the drop we use an L shaped move, with the dog sitting, from the nose to his toes and forward.

Consistent use of clear signals will ensure your dog will respond from any distance.
 

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I train by hand signals. I've realized that I'm just a non-verbal person. But I feel that my dogs are watching me all the time anyways. Only time its a bad thing is when someone new meets my dog and says sit. And I have to explain that she sits off of a hand signal not a word.

But truthfully I should do what my R+ trainer teaches in her classes. Teach the command by a visual cue then add a verbal cue. Then you can drop the visual and just use verbal. But I just never use my mouth. So I stay in the non verbal, visual realm. I do think thats where dogs operate best anyway.

tangent; I also use a clicker and not a verbal marker for the same reasons. My hands can click faster and at the correct time than my brain tells my mouth to move.
 

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I think using your body to communicate with your dog happens pretty naturally -- I didn't intend to use hand signals, but found myself doing it while training to show him where I needed him to go/be. The signals stayed pretty consistent, so he knows a few basic ones pretty thoroughly now.
 

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For some commands Kodi does better with hand signals. I feel they reinforce the vocal command and thus reinforcing the command itself. I do tend to wean him off of vocal commands when I am sure he knows the command.
Here are my basics for Kodi (strangely enough I do use different signals with different dogs, what means sit with Kodi means stay with Lady)
Down-palm parallel with the floor and moving down, like I'm pushing the air down towards the floor, its a quick command.
Sit-my hand in a fist and brought up to my chest.
Stay -simple stop sign hand position
Come- I point at the ground in front of my feet. I occasionally snap when I do so for the audible affect.
 

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I don't know about formal hand signals but I taught my dobe hand signals mostly for fun. However, a few months ago I completely lost my voice and I think I may have killed both my dog and myself if not for the fact that he responded awesomely to hand signals. Food for thought.
 

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Does anyone here use hand signals when giving commands to their dog? Is it better, or does it really matter?
Yes we train our dogs to hand signals.

If you are training for pet behavior, therapy work , commercial work, tricks, free-style, etc, use whatever hand signals you want.

But if you intend to get into obedience sports or other dog sports, review the rules to make sure that your hand signals are in accordance with the appropriate rules. You can be penalized for using an improper hand signal.
 

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I am a obedience dog trainer and service dog trainer and their are different hand signals for different commands. Dog's reads your body language and hand signals first before your voice commands. I always train a dog both hand signals and voice commands together. Also Dogs only understand 3 words in a command. For the hand signals for sit is palm up or index finger move up above dogs head causing the dog to sit. For down palm down move hand or index finger down towards ground. Once the dog knows both sit and down you need to do it in standing position. For stay flat hand up/ down position firmly say stay, For wait move your across the dogs face hand position is up/ down. With a wait the dog can't cross that invisible barrier you have set. For come clap you legs and be very up beat excited the dog needs to come to you in a run. For a stand hold a treat between your index finger and thumb with rest of fingers straight out. Move that hand away from the dogs face tell the dog to stand. Stand and come are two different commands. You can stand a dog from a down, a sit, or after dog comes to you. Come command is a recall when the dog is away from you. For a shake pat chest pick up paw till the dog learns how to do the shake. Once learned you would just put your hand out tell the dog to shake.
jenelle
 

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I use both hand signals and verbal. But by far a hand signal alone (when the situation requires both me and her to be quiet) will work more often than verbal alone.
 

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Hand signals are amazing! Not only does it help dogs learn more quickly (they understand visual cues easier than verbal ones) but it's useful when you're on an important call too ;)

Here are the signals I use:
- Sit: one finger up, like signaling the #1
- Down: same as sit, but with motion downwards, ending with pointing at the ground
- Stay: palm up, facing the dog
- Come: Pat on my thigh
- Shake: palm out, facing up

Try out a few hand signals and see what feels natural to you. When my dog and I took training classes, some of the hand signals they recommend just felt awkward. See what works for you and gets a response from your dog.
 
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