There are many instances when using dog training hand signals can prove extremely useful over voice commands alone. You may find yourself with your dog in a somewhat noisy area where it is hard for your dog to hear you or not get distracted with all the other competing noises. Your dog may become hard of hearing. If you're having a hard time with voice commands, hand signals can reinforce them until you can eventually leave the voice commands alone altogether.
Hand Signal Training Technique#1 - Teach The Most Important One First
The first thing you want to teach your dog to do is sit. Everything else pretty much stems from the "Sit" command. Get a treat in your hand and hold it out in front of your dog's nose. Hold the treat with a closed fist with your palm facing up towards the sky. Next, start moving the treat towards the back of his head slowly.
This will force your dog to start trying to look up. This is usually around the time where he will start dropping his butt to the ground as well. At this point issue the "Sit" command by voice so that your dog sits. Once successful give him the treat and say "Good Boy."
For every instance your dog sits, take your hand and do the same motion with your hand in front of his nose and towards the back of his head so that he associates your hand motion to sitting.
Hand Signal Training Technique#2 - Make A Smooth Transition
The "lay down" command almost always follows the "sit" command. Once you have taught your dog to successfully sit with the dog training hand signals teaching him to lay down becomes very easy. A lot of times when dogs are sitting they'll just stretch their two front legs out and be lying down. You want to imitate his natural behavior by getting him to do the same. This is why it's such a smooth transition in training.
First, have your dog sit. Now take your hand in the same manner you did before- a treat or no treat in it, with a closed fist at their nose level with your palm facing the sky. Start moving your hand towards the ground and say "Lay Down" in a firm voice. Once your hand is pretty much at ground level your dog should be laying completely on his belly. This is how you achieve the most humble act of your dog laying down before you.
Most dogs try not to submit their will to you in this manner but with the treat in your hand you make it feel natural for them to do this act of submission. As you continue to do this training technique over and over you will eventually not need a treat and then you won't have to say lay down.
You will simply give your hand signal and your dog will comply. Always remember to give him the treat and lots of praise for it. Knowing that you are going to phase out of giving him a treat every time verbal praise is important as that will be the reward he receives once the treats are no longer coming.
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