A blog about my life with dogs.......

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2 thumbs up for hand signals

I am on day three of not speaking. Doctors orders. My hope is that this will sum up my sickness for the year and from here on out health will be mine!

I'm sure you can imagine how the loss of speech would affect your day with people. For example, last night I attended a family dinner with a small note pad and pen. But how would your lack of speech affect your day with your dog? In my experience, non-spoken communication with my dogs has been much easier than communicating with even the closest of humans in my life.

I can still make a "t-t" sound by smacking my tongue forward against the roof of my mouth and my teeth which generally gets the dogs attention. Clapping is another tool I already use to attract the attention of the dogs. In addition to the sounds I can make without my voice (side note: I have never been able to whistle, so I can't do that now or ever) I have trained my dogs to respond to hand signals in unison to a verbal command for many of the every day commands. Sit, down, wait, up, walk, watch me, spin and come all have hand signals.
Dogs take social cues form those around them by sight and smell. They observe the visual cues given to them by other dogs and by people as well. Example: a dog might see another dog play bowing and accept the greeting to play or a dog might see you getting out your jacket and keys, then the dog might respond by heading for the door. I once read of a study conducted on litters of puppies. Each litter was taught a few commands, one litter taught only verbal commands, others only hand signals, and another taught both hand and verbal signals. The puppies taught both out performed the others. This is also my experience. Some of my dogs perform only when visual signals are present.  So when faced with handing out bones without a verbal command to wait but with the hand signal here is a photo of Comets response.

Now watch this!

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