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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-11-2017, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Hand gestures

I'm sure many people here have trained their doberman or other dogs to respond to certain hand gestures. I had two questions on the topic

Are certain ones common for competition, and does your dog understand if you point at things to go investigate it / walk that way etc?

I've got a finger up for sit, a finger down for lay down, and a hand wave above eye level for jump (and the commands sit/down/up). I've been trying to get the finger point to mean go over there but it's less than probably 20% successful. It really only works if I point to his crate or to the grass when I take him outside since those are already routines Apollo knows.

If I look at something he'll follow my gaze and look at it, so it seems like he gets the idea of investigation, just not the part about physically moving towards the area. He also knows "go" but it's a correction command so I wouldn't want to use it for training. How has everyone else trained this? Is an all purpose go sniff/stand/disturb what I'm pointing/looking at a realistic command?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-11-2017, 03:22 PM
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Most of the hand signals I've seen and used have involved the whole hand and/or arm, mainly to be better seen at a distance. I also know that dogs can be taught to understand sign language. It mainly takes a lot of repetitions and consistent use of specific signals in specific circumstances to teach them, and then lost of work in different environments to generalize them.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 12:05 AM
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Hey apollo.

My dogs have always been raised to resound to hand signals. Its to late for me to laundry list hem right now. (Dinner calls) If this thread is still up, I will run through them for you. I am talking about pretty much 100% compliance.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 11:08 AM
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Dogs a very keen readers of body language - more so than voice, actually. If you are 100% consistent in what your body does as you are teaching the commands, your dog should have no trouble learning hand signals in addition to voice command. The key is that the signals need to be clear, and the dog needs to understand what it is that you want. It's best to build the behavior and then add in the signal when the behavior is pretty solid.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 12:42 PM
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Rather than a finger point, I start with a bent elbow at shoulder level and then a sweep of my wrist out with a flip of my hand, using whichever arm is on the side I want him to move toward. To go forward or back, I start with bent elbow from slightly below shoulder level flipping wrist and hand out to the front for a forward direction, with an almost straight downward pointing arm and a hand flip curving out and then around to the back to get him to move behind me.

I stick a leg out a little and tap my toes to get him to look at the ground.

All of this sorta sloppy and repeated a couple of times if you’re out and about with the dog.

To help him learn, you can also try the same motions using a bit of food or a ball--the dog’s eyes will follow the treat and get the idea which way he should be moving with the signal. Then you can start just using the signal and he should get it.

Like Rosemary says, dogs can’t necessarily see a finger point from a distance, so it works better if you use your whole arm in a swinging movement (which IMO makes the dog look more in the direction you want him to go) rather than a static hand point.

For any of those to work, the dog has to be actually LOOKING at you...sometimes the hardest part when you’re out in the field

So I’m sitting here in my chair waving my arms around trying to figure out exactly what I do, and my dog is going all confused on me.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 01:05 PM
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You might want to get one of the better Obedience training books as there are a number of generally used signals for behaviors and since I train my dogs planning on training them for upper levels of Obedience I find it worthwhile to start teaching the signals while I'm training behavior with verbal commands.

Most of the standard hand signals are just that--full hand not just a finger pointing. The only place I used just a single finger was when I was training tracking--I used a single finger to point at an article (which early in the training was filled with highly desireable treats) which the dog was going to need to find and indicate that he had found.

There is a Utility exercise called "Directed Jumping"--it is usually taught as a two part linked pattern--the first part is the "go out" where you send the dog out away from you and he is expected to go out away until you call his name and ask him to sit at a distance.

Everything else was a hand gesture--sit was my hand, palm up, raised from my side to waist level--and I taught it in conjunction with a verbal "sit". Down for a dog in heel position was my hand, palm down, lowered from my waist down toward my knee. Stay was my hand, palm toward the dogs nose and trained initially with a verbal command. I also taught a "down" command used with the dog at a distance--which was my arm raised straight up above my shoulder, palm facing the dog with a "down" verbal command.

Look for one of the training books that shows pictures of the hand signals.

All hand signals take a lot of training--you'll see this repeated many times--dogs do not generalize well and when you start to integrate different ways of telling them the same thing (hand signal vs verbal command) you'll have to repeat this many times, many places before it is actually well learned.

And dogs really do read body signals very well--ask anyone who has trained a dog in agility--dogs will take a very slight change of shoulder location as a signal to change course direction. I've never used "Go" as a correction command because I do use it to send the dog away while I'm training the directed jumping but I expect you could use some other verbal command--"Out" might be possible although I couldn't use that since I use it to have the dog deliver the dumbell (or anything else in his mouth) into my hand.

Good luck with this--I use a lot of hand signals and find that with several of my dogs I've gotten far better attention with hand signals than with verbal commands.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 01:36 PM
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Right around the 1:00 mark we do some signals, and around 1:30, we do a distance down with a signal and verbal. I've noticed that I do a stand and stay signal the opposite of most people, using my right hand for a stand, and my left for a stay.

[youtube=Ilka]b0mYhTQfNgo[/youtube]


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosemary View Post
Right around the 1:00 mark we do some signals, and around 1:30, we do a distance down with a signal and verbal. I've noticed that I do a stand and stay signal the opposite of most people, using my right hand for a stand, and my left for a stay.

[youtube=Ilka]b0mYhTQfNgo[/youtube]
Hmmmm--I had to think about that--I do it the same way you do Rosemary--signal the "stand" wth my right hand and the "stay" with my left hand if I'm beside te dog (basicly with dog in heel position), And I had to get Toad and run through the whole exercise with him because while I'm trainng a stand and stay I also realized that if I'm not at the dogs side I use my left hand to control the leash and my right hand to continue to reinforce the "stay" using both a hand signal and the verbal command.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2017, 07:37 PM
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Stand and Stay are different signals, like most folks said. The signals I described are for a dog at a distance and to get him to go a certain direction without coming back to me. And not for formal obedience, just for walks, generally to indicate which trail he should take when there is a fork in the road.

The only time I point my finger at a dog is to tell him he is wrong, wrong, wrong....and that is usually from fairly close up. And my voice matches my signal--only while the dog is not doing the right thing. If he comes or behaves as I’m suggesting (ordering?) him to do, I throw a party--especially for a nice fast come. No matter how long he has taken to get to me, coming to me should be fun!!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the awesome advice everyone. Switching to a full arm and pointed finger definitely helped! And then I started throwing treats the size of a cheerio along with it so he has to go sniff around the area I'm pointing to find it. Made good progress in just a few days! Not sure if he's linked that a harder throw means go farther or is just following the treat but he's definitely getting the idea of how much energy is in the motion and how far to go. Thanks again!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 02:42 PM
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One I’ve heard for the obedience ring at least, is to teach the "go away" for a much longer distance than you will want him to go in the ring--hide something fun he really wants (teach him that if he runs hard enough and far enough he will find something good eventually) and then send him out to find it at a full gallop. His “stop" when you ask for it will be much more flashy that way--rather than a dog who trots waiting for you to stop him at any minute.

I don’t really know that that is true, having not trained obedience for competition. But it sounds like it would make sense to me, anyway.
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