- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Body Language/Hand Signals

October 15th, 2007, 12:27 PM
I completely lost my voice Saturday morning and still havent found it today. Too much clubbing I guess...but anyways something I have found extremely facinating to observe is how my lack of voice does not effect my ability to control my dogs. I work with voice-only and gesture-only commands all the time to keep them enforced but it goes beyond that. I'm able to control where my dogs move with just body language. I know this happens daily already but the absence of my voice simply has made me more aware of it. If I want them to move away in a certain direction I just place my body square to them and drive them out in the direction I want them to go while also sending them out with a sweep of my hand. If I want them to come in closer (not a formal come, just an invitation to join me) I turn my shoulder to them, drop my shoulders slightly and pat my leg. There are so many examples but I won;t bore you with them LOL I just find it so intrigueing to see their positive reactions to my body language and having absolutely no quelms about my lack of voice. I gotta say though, working on the voice-less commands (gesture-only) has also helped a lot too.

Has anybody else noticd this with their dog(s) or gone through the same thing of being voiceless for more than a day?? Share your experiences!

Ford Girl
October 15th, 2007, 01:17 PM
I do, and it works well if you've used these types of action along with words when you start any new command or lessen. The first 2 classes we took we used alot of luring and hand/arm and body movement to get our dogs in the right position, and Dazy knows these type of things by movement only.

Neat eh? :)

October 15th, 2007, 01:28 PM
When I was younger I saw a show about a dog who went deaf, so they had to teach it sign language.
I was so freaked out, and worried that our dog would go deaf, that I taught her sign language!! It worked great and I often practiced the signs with no verbal command. It does work great, and is amazing how intelligent dogs really are!!:lovestruck:

October 15th, 2007, 02:48 PM
The only hand signal Lukka responds to is when I show her that I have a treat in it, she comes right away.....does that count

October 15th, 2007, 05:49 PM
Dodger like most dogs can and does fluently read body language. For instance, with a turn of my body and my arm lifted out in front of me, I indicate a change of direction when he's 300+ meters away. This is not something that I have ever trained but works far better than my voice.
My favorite time to use body language only is when I am stalking/enticing him to play. Just by standing in an alert position, glancing/looking away repeatedly and then making a sudden movement (whether its a step toward him or a step away), I have instant zoomies.

For agility, its all about body languge... So I've really had to learn to send the right signals. I've had to do a lot of shoulder work (also for OB/rally) because by just dropping my shoulder, I am indicating a change of direction/bending... It truly is quite fascinating... we are constantly saying something to our dogs (whether or not we realize it!).

IMO while we are communicating with our dog by using hand signals, its a command and not a language.

October 15th, 2007, 07:40 PM
The only hand signal Lukka responds to is when I show her that I have a treat in it, she comes right away.....does that count

I can tell you that Lukka is very aware of your and your bubby's body language ;) I saw it during my visit and she was also aware of mine. Remember how you said you were surprised at how well and how quick Lukka took a liking to me? A huge thing to do with that is because I knew what body language to transmit to her to let her know I'm an OK person and mean no harm to her or her family (you guys). Had I acted differently her reactions would also be logically, very different.

Its the same thing when a dog senses that someone is a bad person. It;'s not always so much that they have a wierd "6th sense" although it can seem that way. They are just incredibly in-tune to body langugae and the way people react to stimuli. They can also smell chemical changes. The smell of fear coupled with perhaps eyebrows slightly lowered can signal to a dog immediately that a person is a little shifty whereas the average human wouldn't pick up on it at all.

October 15th, 2007, 10:23 PM
When I got Cally (he was 6 yrs old) his obedience of voice commands was good & he only knew 1 hand signal - he was taught stay in a weird way it was not a "stay put where you are do not move" it was a "you can go where you want but you are not allowed to cross *this line* ie a doorway" the hand open facing down sweeping motion across a doorway - this worked for the most part but he would always try to find ways around *the line*.

Not long after I got him I taught him my own hand signals for every command and some new ones like "crawl, back (a direct back up), left, right", he picked up very quickly & obeyed the hand signals much faster than the voice command. :shrug: I still used the "line stay" with him & tried to teach him a proper "stay" which never really worked but he did fantastic with "wait" :D

October 16th, 2007, 08:40 AM
I've always used hand signals in conjunction with voice while training. So days when I have no voice are not that different than days when I do. I think the dogs enjoy the signals and body language sessions more than the vocal training sessions--hand signals and body language come more naturally to them. :dog:

Course, if some morning before I've had enough coffee, I screw up a hand signal and throw something novel at them, they have to think fast and come up with an action to match the new hand signal. Cole is particularly good at this when I mess up--he's invented some good responses to otherwise unintelligible pre-caffeine hand signals. And afterward, as he waits smugly for his reward, he laughs quietly in hazel's face. :o

Lately, for "sit" I've resorted to only training with hand signals--the dogs get it confused with "hutt", which is a command to stand without moving until released (something like the usual "stay", but used when a dog is on point). They used to sit when told to hutt--not when I figured it out (and admittedly, hazel is a bit slow on the uptake), I switched to hand signal only for sit and the problem disappeared. So other than just being convenient for those times when you have laryngitis, hand signals come in handy for situations like this, too. :thumbs up