Hand signals - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Hand signals

hey everyone! i was just wondering how many people prefer to use both vocal and hand signals when training, like i do. it just seemed like the natural thing to do when i was training my family GSD growing up, and i've continued to refine it with mine and my roommates' dogs. i love not needing to say anything to the dog, and continue talking to someone while asking the dog to sit-stay, for example.

right now, since i'm also learning American Sign Language, i've been shifting how i look at training with hand signals. i've realized just how much subtle body language changes can influence what you're communicating to other humans when signing, so i've been trying to integrate that into how i train dogs. another thing i've realized recently is just how integral body language is to wolves and dogs, and how to translate that into inter-species signals.

for example: asking my dog to sit, jump, lay down at, or go to a particular spot using 1. a hand shape associated with a particular action, and 2. a gesture towards where i want him to be. i've seen people who do agility do a similar thing.

i've actually noticed i can get Corvus to cooperate better using purely hand and body language, as opposed to purely vocal. his attention is much more focused on me, since his eyes have to be, though if we're outside i usually need to use a combination of vocal and visual communication.

anyways, i was wondering how many other people do a similar thing. are there particular trainers who've talked about this sort of thing? i'd love to learn more about why it works so well, at least with particular dogs.

currently owned by a german pinscher named Corvus
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 01:33 PM
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My goal is always obedience on just a verbal command, but they do pick upon physical cues or signals no matter how subtle a lot quicker.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 01:48 PM
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I do the same.After all that's how dogs communicate with each other.They understand gestures easily.Whenever I am having a problem training a new behavior I stop and think of how I can do something physically to more clearly communicate.
Patricia McConnell is one author that comes to mind that has some interesting books and videos about body language and better communication skills.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-25-2015, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Strom View Post
My goal is always obedience on just a verbal command, but they do pick upon physical cues or signals no matter how subtle a lot quicker.
Agree, although there are times that hand signals come in handy and they should know them. Verbals are very important, especially if they are far away and not looking at you.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 03:10 PM
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I originally trained using both hand and verbal signals. It was a bragging point to show my friends that I can have my dog do a dozen commands without me uttering a word, but that's about all it was. I've since changed my mind and am now of the opinion that verbal commands should take total precedence. Your hands can be busy, your dog might not be looking at you, etc. etc. Lots of reasons why the dog should respond 100% to verbal-only. If the dog also responds to some hand commands on top of the verbal, that much the better, but verbal should be a strict priority.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 03:28 PM
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both here but I've admittedly gotten a little lazy with hand gestures. my first shepherd lost her hearing and I was very fortunate and grateful that she understood commands and communication by hand. even things like "good girl" I relayed with a hand clap and she'd light up!! hand gestures have also been useful for me when out working with two dogs and needing to communicate different things to each of them.

overall, I enjoy it.... sometimes I just don't feel like talking and a simple palm, point or wave is lovely.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 03:41 PM
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I use some hand signals and sometimes I use them instead of verbal cues. But more often, I am afraid, I use hand signals instead of giving in to my instinctive desire to say the command a second time.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 04:07 PM
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From everything I've learned so far (and I'm realizing more and more I've only barely scratched the surface), it makes sense to me that the dog learns from both visual/hand as well as audible cues. And that the visual cues are at least as important as vocal ones, since they are pack-animals and ingrained to 'follow the (alpha) leader'. For that reason, we work with both ways and also interchange them at times just for practice.

Personally, I think Spirit does better with visual cues - assuming I can get her to watch me when she's supposed-to while we're working .

My father, who was a K-9 LEO years ago, did it ALL with hand gestures (and a couple whistles for attention) and it was almost spine-tingling to see them work together... But then, he was Italian so some gestures came more naturally to him
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 06:07 PM
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I use both. Hand signals also helped a lot to learn his commands in english, german and french also.
They are useful.
Sometimes I use only hand signals to reinforce his focus training.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 06:15 PM
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^ I forgot that point. hand signals were key in switching one of my dogs commands to Italian.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 65lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 55lbs of Go!!!!!
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