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I've begun to start training my puppy with nonverbal commands. So far (when there are no distractions) he's taking to them really well.

A Clap gets his attention

A walking snap brings him to heal (or at least walk with me) And works as a recall

A snap pointing at the floor means go there

A snap pointing at him means sit.



I'm kinda out of ideas, can I use commands that don't make any noise? I use the snap with most of them to make sure he can still hear the command.

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I use a point at the pup towards the floor for sit

point with a drop to down

finger towards the sky or flat hand for stay

finger along the ground for crawl

fingers in circles for spins

fingers in a "come here" motion or hand upward doing the same for paw up


that's all we have so far.

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If you have a clap to get attention - then I don't think that you really need every hand signal to have a noise. Actually, like 99% of mine are silent. You can do anything with your hands. It doesn't all have to be pointing. for example:


A pat on my leg means go into a heel position.

a scooping motion with my hand means sit

horizontal hand in a downward motion means down.

"Stop" signal means stay

vertical hand moving up means "beg"

hands behind my back means "speak"

vertical hands, with fingers pointing downward - palms towards her, means back up.


And so on and so forth. Basically what I am saying is that it can be the position of your hands (like my speak), movement (like my sit signal) of your hands, orientation of your hands (like my "back up") or even other signals (not with your hands at all - like a stomping foot means "cover your eyes"). Be creative! At first I had trouble coming up with hand signals too - but just use anything that comes to mind, no matter how silly. One dog I know speaks when his handler put her hand on her head. :rolleyes: Non-verbals can be ANYTHING! If you want to do movie-type tricks, that makes it a lot of fun to perform in front of others if you have cool signals. for example, if you stomp your foot and put your hands on your hips the dog "plays dead".


Have Fun! :D

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I have more trouble with verbal comands

point up for sit

Point down for down

Stop for stay

Stop but pushing hand towards dog for off (paws on floor)

hand flat fingers down palm towards dog moving hand away is stand

hand flat fingers down palm towards dog moving hand towards dog is back

Hands in preying position is beg

Hand flat high above head is stand on back legs

toe tap for where I want him to stand

pointing finger hand moves round my back for circle me

Pointing finger hand tru legs is leg weave

hand on leg finger pointing down for heel

Currently finger pointing between front leg is bow - but planning to move that onto me bowing as that is more of a lure and fiddley

Flat hand palm up for paw


I can do any of them with or without the word command but he only sits on the word command alone 100% of time

Sure there are more - cos you dont even realise the signals you are giving - like the wee tilt of the head for come'ere

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i have trouble with verbal commands, too. sophie is not good with recall yet, she has a couple of vocal commands - slow down, a click with my tongue to slow down and look at me. she's slowly catching on to the verbal for sit. and, dorky girl is entering adolescence, so she is super sassy if i want down when she wants to play with the roommates dog and they're being a bit too rambunctious.


i agree with everyone on the silly factor - sometimes, if i signal a turn too low, sophie will lay down and roll over - so i'm trying to incorporate that somehow - sorta like shaping i guess. whatever works, i say. if the kiddo responds - it's a keeper.


long story short - we need work at distance commands. i've got "control unleashed" on order - anyone read it? :rolleyes:

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Well about the short story....I 've read a few and they go something like this (our version).

I got Hailey when she was 8 mos old and she had been a street girl for an unknown period of time before that.

So, off to the offleash dog areas we went.

Every weekend at least and evenings when possible.

Every jaunt begins with a sit stay / and a distance down stay. She gets to dash out of the car or to the trailhead, and we pick a spot that is our starting point. She must sit or down. I give the "stay" command. and walk away.

She waits for the arm. Then she is released.

In the beginning, I always carried yummy treats. Throughout our walk, or when we must dodge bikers, reactive people, or young wildlife, my arm goes out, and she comes and gets a treat.

At night indoors, we played a "down/sit" game with a ginourmous large ball and treats.

She and Boonie had to sit stay for varying lengths of time - up to say 5 minutes....a treat would be placed on the ball for both dogs.

They would have to wait and watch that treat until released.

At release they would race to the ball to grab their treat.

To introduce the "we sit stay at the start of every off leash jaunt", they would sometimes be given a kong to sit & chew during the stay.

If she is too excited, i follow the rule: If you cannot sit/down stay; you cannot play.

And we get back in the car & drive around for a few minutes and try it again a few times.

Basically they got the idea that waiting is fun; recall is fun; cooperation comes with rewards and love.

Oh, one more technique-- We play chase. When they are away at a distance, I call them and as they get nearer, I start running away. Or I may just call them and then run.

They love to chase. Sometimes they get a delicious little morsel for this.

Now they both have a good recall....albeit there still exists a temptation or two that prevails.

The are not push button dogs.....if I doubt their safety, they are on a line or I leash up proactively.

Have fun!

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I totally heart those hand/eye signals. I use some with Ouzo, and I love them.


For example, for down, I snap my fingers while lowering my hand. Snap the dog is down even from a distance. Works great when the target is a ball, at the dog park. Sucks when you're at your 3rd agility lesson and your dog just saw a squirell run on the side of the fence and you don't have a ball to get his attention with :rolleyes:


Kat, I loved the "scoop" gesture for sit. I just tried it with Ouzo. It only took him one try to get it! I said Sit while at the same time doing the scoop motion. Few minutes later I had a treat in my hand and I just made the scoop motion, kindda daring him to do it. And HE ploped his butt on the ground, extremly proud of himself. Then I tried it again, in a different setting, and plop again, he sat with a big grin on his face! YAY!


Gotta try more tomorow after we come back from our 2nd herding lesson!

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the worst, though is weaning off treats when training...ugh :rolleyes:. if y'all have advice, i'll take it.


the second worst is miss sassy pants :D . when i signal to down when i really really mean it - it's like she can tell i'm trying to keep her from doing something she really wants to (like harass the small old dog in our house-lucy) and she sasses like crazy. barks. air snaps. it's funny and annoying at the same time.

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*No, Ouzo, I will NOT lift my leg when going to the bathroom, don't care how good it feels!*

:rolleyes::D :D :D


the worst, though is weaning off treats when training...ugh

As long as you do just that (weaning off them) you should be OK. Its all about intermittent reinforcement to be official. :D At first, just ask her to (for example) sit once, get a treat, then sit again - don't get a treat, just verbal praise, and then sit one more time and get another treat! Then you just have to build up the "no treats" from there. Just make sure you go slow, and reward often. And basically every time, reward with verbal praise, or a pat, or even just a smile (they know when you are smiling!).

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I snap at Riven a lot to get her attention. My agility instructor said to stop snapping. I just said I'd try (habit you know), but I didnt even think to ask why...I will Wed..but can anyone tell me why I cant snap at her? I dont mean to hijack, but you were speaking of snapping, so I thought I'd randomly put that in there... sorry ...

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Snap happy, Donna :rolleyes: Mine is not intended as a correction but as a command. It kindda started as a "I really mean DOWN" add-on, but now the simply snap while lowering my hand quickly is the command for down. In addition to the verbal cues.

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I used to be big into non-verbal signals with Speedy. He can do an entire Rally course without me saying a word just by reading my body language and signals.


I used:


A hand motion in a "J" = sit

Point to the floor = down

Raise my hand in the air = down

Point to the area in front of me = come front

A wave of my hand down to my right = finish right

A wave of my hand down to my left = left finish

Moving my left shoulder back = left pivot (or "get in" on the left)

A flat hand in front of him, about a foot above him = stay


My release "OK" and recall words were always verbal.


Now that we're in Freestyle I've gotten away from hand and nonverbal signals, but I always enjoyed using them in Rally.

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I snap at Riven a lot to get her attention. My agility instructor said to stop snapping


It's a habit that CAN be broken! I used to do that... BAD, and my agility instructor would get on my case about it too. Every jump, the command over, the hand signal, and a SNAP! :rolleyes: It was very hard to stop, but I just kept my hands folded, like in a loose fist, while I ran. When I made myself stay conscious of that hand position, I wouldn't snap my fingers. Eventually I got out of the habit.


Ling seems to like hand signals for all of her commands better than verbal. At least, once she learns them, she is much more reliable in following them than verbal commands that I know she knows. Not sure why.

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