We all know that dogs are smart. Early on, we train them to sit, stay, roll over, and fetch. And, sooner or later, they train us to throw the ball, let them outside, and to scratch them behind the ears. We usually train our dogs with verbal cues. They train us…with no words at all.

Take a Cue From Cupid. Cupid communicates with you non-verbally because he (please read this softly) can’t talk. There are many reasons that you may also want to use non-verbal communication with your pet. The most important is that like us, most dogs eventually lose part or all of their hearing. But hand signals also teach Cupid to keep his focus more closely on you. One study has even shown dogs to respond more consistently to visual as opposed to vocal commands.

Give Signals to Siggie. Teaching hand signals is actually an easy add-on to regular training. When teaching Siggie to sit, hold your palm up, flat handed, every single time. Very soon, she’ll associate the hand signal to the command, and you can drop the voice cue. Other common signals are:

Lie down – Point finger down
Stay – Palm open, held at your chest
Come – Hand over heart
Watch me – Point to your eyes

Start Early with Earl. Although you can teach your dog hand commands at any time, it’s best to teach them simultaneously with initial puppy training. It’s most important to teach Earl before hearing loss begins, to avoid disorientation and confusion in your aging dog.

Teaching hand commands is a ‘handy’ skill for you and your dog. They are easy to teach, and it’s not too late to start. If you’ve had success with non verbal commands, let us know at your next visit. We’d love to see a demonstration, so we can give you – and your pet – a pat on the back!