Getting your dog to follow verbal commands is great. However, there will be times that will not allow you to throw verbal commands to your dog and you need him to either sit, stay, or go near you. No worries, teaching hand signals is actually pretty easy, it needs a lot of time and patience, but it’s easy.
You’ll need treats, time, and patience. The hand gestures that will be mentioned below will just be suggestions, you can use hand gestures you’re comfortable with and you’ll remember.
Your first goal is to connect a hand gesture to a verbal command. This needs to be done consistently until your dog can follow hand signals. And do it one hand signal at a time. Don’t rush your pup. Once he is familiar with the hand signal, you have to gradually remove the verbal command. If he picked up on the hand gesture alone, and followed the command, it means you can start training him on another command.
Let’s go over the basic commands first.
Make sure your dog is in front of you and is in standing position. Your hands should be relaxed and parallel to your legs. Slowly move your hands upwards going to your shoulder as if you’re throwing something over your shoulder towards the back. As you do this, bring the treat past your pup’s nose and say the word “sit”. Make sure to make his nose follow the direction of your hand, so your actions should be slow. Give him a treat and praise him when he follows the command.
This time you’ll need your dog seated in front of you. Make sure you are holding a treat with your fingers. Raise your hand above your head. Keep your arms straight. Slowly move your hand down but still keep your arms straight. As you move your hand down, say “down”. If your dog follows the command, praise him and give him a treat.
Start by having your dog sit in front of you. While holding a treat with your hand, raise your arms and make it parallel to the ground. Then in a sweeping motion, move your hand forward and touch your other shoulder. As you do so, make sure to let your dog see and smell the treat. Give the command to “come” as you take a few steps back. If your dog follows, praise him and give him a treat.
As with any training, you have remember to use positive reinforcement and not punishments. Each time your dog follows the command give him a treat and praise him. Remember to be consistent. Do the training daily, and gradually reduce the volume of your voice as you give the command, until such time that you will only give the hand gesture and no verbal command.
You have to go over the commands and hand gestures every day. You can do more commands once your dog becomes familiar the previous one.
Always make sure to give your dog a treat when he follows your commands without hesitation. Soon enough your dog will be able to understand your non-verbal commands.