ideas for different hand signs?

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by mrst, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. mrst New Member

    Hi there. My pup is almost 5 months. Last night my husband video taped her for the first time while I was feeding her, and we noticed something.

    She gets "spin" and "bang" confused because I point my finger. I realized I do a lot of finger pointing, and that's been confusing my pup. She gets ahead of me (too anxious for the food), so before I say anything, she sits heels stands spins and shakes, hoping one of them is what I want. She'll be much better when she's mature and calm, but I feel I need to do something about my hand now.

    I need to reserve my finger for "bang" and "un-do" her association with "spin". Got tips?

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Ha, i hear you on this one! My Buddy is SOOoo tuned into my body language, i must be careful, especially while TEACHING him the trick to NOT vary my cue, body language etc.
    Ha, i once taught Buddy to bark when i lift my eyebrows for a card trick. Now, i must be very careful not to lift my eyebrows while training him!! I came to realize i have habit of lifting my eyebrows while waitng to see if he will do the trick....Poor lil dog!

    buddy does much prefer a hand signal than a word, i usually use both. My dog, also is sensitive to WHICH arm/hand i use. Is true, especially when he is first learning a trick. Not sure if many dogs notice this. mine does, though.

    For buddy to spin, he has only been taught to spin to his left so far. So i made an "L" with my thumb and my index, and then i also straighten out my pinkie finger. I hold my hand in that pose and spin it. Buddy knows that means 'spin to the left'.

    I do put some thought into my cues before i even start training my dog a new trick, to make sure they do not seem to close to other cues. I also use various words so they don't sound like other words he knows.

    Sounds like you have a smart lill puppy!!!!

    I am a beginner trainer myself, so stand by for further tips, but i'd do this:

    I'd reward the bang to the pointed finger, and ignore the spins to pointed finger. come up with new hand shape or new cue, and begin rewarding spins to THAT new signal. YOu might wanna consider waiting a few days before trying the new spin cue..not sure. So quit the spins altogether, and then re-introduce with the new cue.

    Or, make the pointed fingers very distinct to your puppy, like the bang is straight arm point, and the spin is fastly spinning pointed finger..?
  3. mrst New Member

    Shoot, I sure hope so......too hyper to stay still, otherwise she would have learned more stuff more quickly by now. Even with food, she's everywhere between commands.

    I'm not that experienced either, and it helped to see myself video taped. Our previous dog also preferred hand signals, especially "stand". The current pup learns certain things in one session (like "heel") but for some reason she needed a couple of weeks for "stand". She still prefers a hand signal for "stand".

    I think a lot of this is because of the pup's short attention span. Verbal commands sounds similar, i.e., "S"tand, "S"it, "S"tay, "S"peak, "S"pin, etc. etc., and she immediately responds to the "S".

    It would be odd to use a fist for "spin", but it might work. Or open hand with fingers together. I'll come up with something. Thank you, a couple of days of break will be a good idea.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Ha, i smiled at you saying "stand" was difficult for your dog, same for mine!! My dog took months to really learn "stand"!! Which shocked me, as i would have thought that would be easy, but, nope! He just could not solidly understand "stand" for months.
    sometimes, when Buddy is just not getting it, i shelve the whole trick, wait a month, and re-introduce. Which is what i did with "stand".

    Buddy is still only 90% with his stand, and, weirdly, i must be standing to give the cue, as i was when i trained him to "stand". He will not do cue for "stand" :dognowink:unless i am also standing!!?

    My cue for "stand" is the O-K hand shape in left hand, with my arm straight down...which Buddy only interprets as his cue to "stand" if i am also!!

    My hand cue for spin to the left, is not exactly a fist, only two fingers are folded, which are the middle and ring finger, the other 3 fingers are out straight.
    I used the "L" from deaf manual alphbet, and modified it a bit.

    But you could probably use pointed fingers for both, so long as you make them really distinct, like straight arm point for "bang", and rapidly spinning pointing hand for "spin"...

    How cute about the "S" commands!! Lol! I suppose you could really underemphasize the s in the beginning of the word til puppy learns that Stay would sound more like Tay...? etc etc....?

    My cue for "speak" is "Wanna Beer?". :msngiggle:Sometimes is cute to come up with funny question for cues. For spin, i say "to the LEFT". I suppose one of these days i should get around to teaching "to the right", lol!
  5. snooks Experienced Member

    Some good ideas are using some modified or ASL signals since most are quite distinctive and many are fairly motion based and intuitive for dogs. I usually try to use a signal that actively does something with the behavior that I desire. One finger point up brings my dog's head up which is pretty natural for a sit. Pointing down good for a down, hand up like a stop sign if my dog is facing me is a good STOP or WAIT, and start with hand out and bring to chest like a summons is a good come. Many people teach their dog ASL and it works very well.

    Put your pointer finger away just a little and use your arm too. You can spin a dog by pointing but moving your arm in a left circle and a right as I do. Rollover is still a point but the arm movement is entirely different as is pointing out and away from me. The bc rescue link below has some good examples of arm involvement. These do not have to be stationary cues to work well.

    great resource

    Deaf dog books are great too for hand signals

    I like this site for distance

    If you wish to standardize for obedience or trial work go to governing body websites like AKC or UKC

    I'm sure there are some service dog sites out there like SDI with some standards but I don't see them on a quick Google search. Most important make it something YOU will remember and is easy/simple. The better you remember it the easier it will be.

    It does sound like you have one smart pup....keep in mind that you can teach right and left handed to mean the same thing or different things. I have problems with my right hand so most hand signals I give are left handed and I haven't taught much right handed. You can choose to do so. Simple is usually better-mostly due to human error not dog. LOL

    Have fun with this. It's a pleasure to have a hand signal trained dog--distance is no barrier then.


    Oh my stand was easy - stumbled upon it. lure first from sit move treat from dog's nose slowly away...add verbal "stand" -when that is good use empty hand same motion and say stand as dog flexes muscles or shifts weight to stand. then just the word and I may put a clicker in here if she's guessing. Then i use a flat hand held out palm down for stand with implied stay. It's in this vid after me lying on floor at about 1 minute after she brings me phone, i give hand signal and she stabilizes a stand for me.

    i think this is again a natural thing about head high and similar to lure like sit with hand up etc
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    "hoot, I sure hope so......too hyper to stay still, otherwise she would have learned more stuff more quickly by now. Even with food, she's everywhere between commands"

    One other thing worth looking into, is your dog's circadium rhythm, that is, what times of day your dog is livliest vs. most calm. My own Buddy, is NOT a morning dog, nope, he only moves around in the morning hours just enough to keep a half open eye on us. So if i have to teach him something that overly excites him, i use mornings to do it, as he is naturally calmer at that part of the day.

    This might help with your dog, too.
  7. snooks Experienced Member

    :dogwink:NICE point Tigerlily!!
  8. kossack New Member

    that's really fascinating. i never thought about animals having circadian rhythms too, but of COURSE they do!
  9. krazykai0905 Well-Known Member

    What I do for "Bang!" is the basic hand/gun shape, with my thumb pointing to the ceiling, and my pointer and index finger as the gun barrel. Then I flick it up and down as I say, "Bang!" like I'm shooting her lol. For spin(R or L), I point my pointer finger down to the ground and spin it, using my right hand for her to spin right, and my left hand for spinning left. My only limit for teaching Kai is how many voice cues and hand signals I can come up with :)
  10. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Snooks, i just NOW noticed the link in your note, and reeeally enjoyed the video, AWESOME WORK WITH THE GOLDENS!! LOVED IT! KUDOS!!:cheers2:
  11. sara Moderator

    I have 2 deaf dogs, so hand signals become very important for us! Scout knows 47 signs, and Mouse is already up to 15. both dogs are different, and the sign I use depends on how they learn something ie Scout's signal for "on" (couch, bed, box) is left hand in a fist the right hand comes up and covers the fist with the pointer finger pointing at what I want her on. Mouse has 2 different signs for "on" for on the couch or bed is me patting the furniture, but "on a box" is left hand flat palm up, with the right hand tapping it with the first 2 fingers. Both have the same sit and down signs, but Scout's roll over is a pointed finger circling, and Mouse's is a flat hand doing a half circle over her head. I just make up the sign from the way I lure with a treat, and how well the dog responds, and I've adjusted signs to make them easier for the dog to understand. My hearing boy Ollie also knows the signs. but smarty pants that he is, he know BOTH Scout's and Mouse's signs, but I think that he's picked them up from watching me work with the girls, as I always talk to them too, so they get the appropriate facial expressions. Scout will sit with me just saying the word... I think she reads lips!

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