Let’s say, you are dealing with a deaf dog. How will you communicate with the dog since verbal interaction is out of the equation? Needless to say, you will have to use hand gestures. You might not know, but dogs keep losing their hearing ability as they age.
Keep in mind that perfectly normal dogs also respond well to hand motions. Believe it or not, dogs are visually more observant than we think of them. Not to mention that hand signals are less confusing than verbal orders, which makes hand signals an effective mode of communication.
Any hand movement you use consistently will be recognized by your dogs, allowing them to follow your commands conveniently. Of course, we are not suggesting that you completely eliminate verbal communication. The point here is to use a combination of both words and signs to improve communication with your canine companion.
Hand Signals: How to Train?
Let’s say, your pet dog already follows a few verbal commands. Basically, he is able to associate a command with a certain action. For instance, when you say the word ‘sit,’ the dog knows that he needs to be seated. So, what you have to do is create a new association with a hand signal with the help of the verbal command that your dog already knows.
-Begin by doing the hand movement/signal.
-Follow it up with an already taught verbal command.
-Use treats and rewards to reinforce a behavior.
-Repeat all the above steps many times.
-Do the hand signal without any verbal command.
-Reward the pet if he performs the desired action.
Slowly and gradually, eliminate the reward part from the equation. You will have to praise the dog a lot, though. Gradually, your dogs will pick up the hand signals, and they will start responding to them without throwing any tantrums. In other words, they will understand that both hand signals and verbal communication mean the same thing.
Of course, you need to train your dog in a distraction-free zone. You can choose an empty room for training. You can also train outside, but only when you know that there would be little to no distractions because visual training will work only when the dog is actively looking at you.
Basically, you will need undivided attention from the dog at the time of training. Failure to get the dog’s attention is bound to affect the training. It might prove to be a waste of time. So, keep these limiting factors in mind to get better results from your training efforts.
Spoken or sign communication, most dogs grasp everything very quickly. In fact, they learn non-verbal signs easier than spoken words. So, you will have no major issues teaching them hand signals. Basically, dogs can be easily coached in any language that the dog trainer chooses, of course, as long as the pet dog can hear and see.
That said, you need to bear in mind that the dog’s brain is not the same as ours. So, they won’t process a language the same way we do. So, you really have to be both patient and consistent to teach them any new language. As long as the teaching is clear and consistent enough for dogs to associate them with any behavior, they will be able to master it over time.