Eye commands?! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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Eye commands?!

I'm not sure if this belongs in this particular category, but I was training/playing with my 1 yr old pup a couple nights ago and noticed that a simple eye movement was enough to get her to respond correctly. Needless to say, at 1 yr old I was amazed, so I pressed it a bit further. She will come from a down-stay or sit-stay with only a slight movement of my head, or often just a signal with my eyes. She will also back up, a command that we have worked on forever, with just a slight head movement or even just eye movement...like telepathy. It's amazing! But for ANYONE who has ever wondered if their dog picks up on body or posture signals...I'd say this is a pretty good indicator LOL.

Any one else ever experience this kind of responsiveness? Let's hear your stories!

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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 09:12 AM
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I watched a video from a well known trainer who cautioned his viewers about unexpected body cues. He taught his dogs verbal commands and they followed them well. Then he did a trial and it seemed that his dog had no idea what the commands were. It turned out that he made facial expressions, especially with his eyebrows, for each command. For instance for Down he lowered his brows. His dog was reading his face more than listening to his words.

I also saw this in a local trial where the trainer, walking straight, did not give the quick twist of her shoulder when she gave the down-in-motion command. The dog didn't respond right away because he was watching for her body movement.

So depending on what you want to do, be aware that your pup will more likely take physical ques before verbal ones.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 09:33 AM
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When I was practising the recall at the end of the BH routine, Eska seemed to be reading my mind, and breaking her down a half second before I gave the command. I eventually came to the conclusion I MUST be giving some sort of physical signal that I was about to call her. Maybe it was the deep breath in, maybe it was a very slight change in my posture - I don't know! But it was happening much too often to be a coincidence.

It took awhile, but she eventually learned to WAIT for the verbal signal!

Both my dogs do respond to my facial expression, that's for sure! If they are focused on my face, and I give a big cheesy grin, they get excited. I think it's because I usually smile when giving the YES marker (my equivalent of a clicker) for doing something correctly, and they're expecting a treat!
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 09:58 AM
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Yes!Our breed is so attentive and tuned into us!If you watch a BH routine and wonder why the handler strides around sort of stiffly and unnaturally - the reason being so the dog will respond only to the verbal cues.I can go all day giving my dogs directions and never speaking.Pretty fun isn't it?
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 11:20 AM
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A trainer I know did an experiment with his demo dog, who was trained to both hand signals and verbal commands. He gave conflicting commands to see which one the dog would follow (in other words, he'd give hand signal for "down" with wrong word attached, maybe "come") -- and every time, the dog followed the hand signal, not the spoken word. EVERY time.

I think that says a lot about how dogs process cues. Dogs are masters of reading subtle canine body language. There's a sophisticated language they speak with each other. I think that's why they respond to hand signals and facial expressions so easily.

You can also play a similar game with a ball dog. They know which way to run before you even throw the ball because they're watching your eyes. If you fake them out by flicking your eyes the opposite way you're going to throw, they'll sometimes go off in the wrong direction, as they trust the facial cue.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 11:24 AM
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That's very interesting Magwart! Will have to remember that (though it should be obvious to me from what I posted... )
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 09:37 PM
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When I was practicing obedience exercises with Keeta, she started anticipating the sit and down in motion. It was like Sunsilver said, all I had to do was think about giving the command, and she platzed or sat. I tried to mix it up with the order of the routine, the amount of heeling before the command, etc, and still, she was doing the command one or two steps before I actually gave it.

I realized she was reacting to my breathing, the intake of air before the spoken word. So I started mixing up my breathing too! Purposely breathing in an un-regular fashion, taking in sharp breaths randomly, breathing out partially before giving the platz, etc. That fixed the problem, but it highlights just how incredibly attuned dogs are to the most subtle of body language. We do use our eyes to "cheat" and give invisible help to our dogs during obedience (shh . . . don't tell the judge!).
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
You can also play a similar game with a ball dog. They know which way to run before you even throw the ball because they're watching your eyes. If you fake them out by flicking your eyes the opposite way you're going to throw, they'll sometimes go off in the wrong direction, as they trust the facial cue.
I was doing this with Gryffon (because I'm evil), but he picks up on something else, and does not get fooled. I tried different things, but it is very, very VERY hard to fool him about which direction I'll throw the ball. Heck, he know which direction I'll throw the ball even before I do! I haven't yet figured out what cues him in.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 09:41 PM
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I read somewhere that German Shepherds are the only breed that can follow our gaze... so if we look at them and then look at the moon (for example) then they will also look at the moon.

I've always trained both hand and voice commands. I like that I can get Kaiser to sit or down or stand with a subtle hand movement that others haven't even noticed. Or if I'm talking to someone I can give him a command without having to interrupt my conversation.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 10:03 PM
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When I talk to Nitro when he's in the back of the car and I'm driving, he makes eye contact with me in the rear vision mirror. When I ask him where a particular toy is, (at home - not while driving), he will move his head to look at it, giving me the visual cue. As humans, most of our communication is body language or tone of voice. I'm guessing our inter species communication would be predominantly body language or tone of voice as well.
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