Hand Signals for Dog Obedience Training

Dog training silhouetteWhen it comes to dog obedience training, there are different methods that you can use. While some dog owners rely solely on verbal commands for training their pets, others use hand signals. Knowing how to use hand signals and what makes these gestures work effectively is important if you plan on using this type of training method.

How Hand Signals Work

When you make gestures or certain movements with your hands while also using specific verbal cues, dogs learn to associate these hand signals with the vocal commands. This association helps dogs learn to perform the correct behavior on command. While verbal cues or commands can be effective for training, adding hand signals can make it easier for dogs to figure out what is expected of them. Keep in mind that dogs pay very close attention to body language. In fact, they’re more likely to focus on your body movement rather than the words you’re using when you issue commands.

Benefits of Hand Signals

Hand signals offer a number of advantages for dog obedience training. These include the following:

  • Easy to use: Hand signals aren’t complicated for dog owners to learn or use. They’re simple movements that you can easily do while training your dog, whether you’re working on getting him to sit or come to you on command.
  • Shorter training time: Combining hand signals with verbal commands can also make training go more quickly than you expect. Since dogs pay attention to body language, your dog is likely to figure out what he should be doing in a shorter amount of time compared to using only verbal commands.
  • Effective training for deaf dogs: Using hand signals is also a highly effective way to train dogs that are hard of hearing. If you have a deaf dog in your household, teaching him to obey hand signals offers a great alternative when you’re unable to use verbal commands. Deaf dogs are fully capable of learning to obey hand signals in order to sit, stay, stand and follow other commands.


How to Use Hand Signals

When you’re working on dog obedience training, start by pairing hand signals with verbal commands. Give the verbal command at the same time that you do the hand signal, then wait to see how your dog responds. Just remember that it might take your dog a number of tries before he figures out what he is supposed to do. How do you know if your dog has learned to successfully obey hand signals? You can put this to the test by simply giving your dog the hand signal with no verbal command. If your dog performs the correct behavior after seeing the hand signal, you’ll know that he has learned what your hand movements mean.

What Not to Do When Using Hand Signals

When you’re working on teaching your dog hand signals for dog obedience training, avoid doing any of the following:

  • Being inconsistent: Keep in mind that you’ll need to be very consistent with the way you use hand signals and verbal commands. When you make changes to hand signals or verbal commands, such as using a different word, a different tone of voice or a slightly different hand signal, this will end up confusing your dog. When your dog is given inconsistent hand signals, he’ll have a harder time learning what each one means, which will make training take longer.
  • Punishing your dog: No matter how frustrated you get with your dog during training, it’s never okay to yell or hit him. Shouting at your dog or physically punishing him will only lead him to fear you, which can result in behavioral issues. Your dog will also learn to form a negative association with hand signals, which will make him more reluctant to go through training sessions. Keep training calm and positive, and your dog will get the hang of hand signals much more quickly and without any stress.
  • Giving up: Dogs learn at different paces, so you might find that yours requires more time to learn hand signals. It might be tempting to give up on using a hand signal if your dog does not seem to be catching on, but it’s important to keep practicing with it. Your dog will eventually learn what the hand signal means and perform the correct behavior. When you give up and start with a different hand signal, your dog will become confused, making dog obedience training more frustrating for both of you.


Basic Hand Signals for Dog Obedience Training

There are no official requirements when it comes to which hand signals you use. Although there are certain signals that are commonly used in dog obedience training, it’s also possible to create your own if those work better for you. Just remember that if you come up with your own hand signals, you’ll need to make sure that you use these on a consistent basis. You should also avoid creating complex hand signals that will be difficult for your dog to learn. The following are a few of the most basic hand signals that are often used for training dogs:

  • Sit: To do this hand signal, start by holding a treat in one hand and placing it at your side. Lift your hand up slowly past your dog’s nose, and give the verbal command “sit.” Your dog should naturally sit down as the treat rises above his nose and head. When he’s in a sitting position, reward him with the treat and practice this hand signal again.
  • Down: In order to do this hand signal, put a treat in one hand and raise it over your head. Slowly move your hand down past your dog’s nose while giving the verbal command “down.” As you move your hand down toward the floor, your dog’s head and body should follow it. When your dog is lying down on the floor, reward him with the treat you’re holding. Practice this hand signal several more times with your dog.
  • Come: For this hand signal, hold a treat in one hand, then straighten your arm out to the side. Slowly move your arm toward the opposite shoulder while giving the verbal command “come.” Move back a few steps, then let your dog come over to you. When he reaches you, reward him with the treat. This hand signal might take a bit longer for your dog to learn than “sit” or “down,” but it’s an important one. The “come” command can help you keep your dog out of danger when you’re out in public.
  • Stand: To do this hand signal, start by holding your hand out at the side of your hip, then slowly move it straight backwards while giving the verbal command “stand.” When your dog stands up, reward him with a treat.
  • Stay: In order to do this hand signal, all you have to do is stretch your arm in front of you and hold your hand up in front of your dog while giving the verbal command “stay.” When your dog stops in his tracks and remains in place, reward him with a treat. Make sure you don’t reward him if he moves after stopping. Otherwise, he’ll think that you’re rewarding him for moving rather than staying still.

Patience Is Key

As with any type of dog obedience training, the key to helping your dog successfully learn is having patience. Plan on practicing hand signals a number of times before your dog is able to figure out what to do on command. In order to make this work more effectively, keep training sessions short, fun and positive. Don’t have your dog practice the same hand signal over and over again several times in a row, or he’ll get bored or distracted. Instead, change things up during each training session. This will keep your dog’s attention focused on you longer and make him look forward to training sessions.

Keep in mind that you can gradually stop using treat rewards with your dog for training. Once your dog is able to follow hand signals without any problems, you can begin rewarding him every now and then instead of rewarding him each time. Eventually, you won’t need to reward him with treats at all when he follows your hand signals. At this point, you can be sure that your dog has learned hand signals and knows what to do when you give certain commands. This means that you have successfully trained your dog with hand signals. Your dog should be able to follow them without any issues.

This article was previously published at https://www.dogonefunchicago.com/dog-training/hand-signals-dog-obedience-training-2/




Local Dog Parks Near The South Loop

three dogs at a dog parkChicago offers a number of local dog parks  where dogs can burn off energy and socialize. Learn more about some of these parks, so you can plan your next outing with your pup.

Grant Bark Park

Located on Columbus Drive and 11th Street, this 18,000 square foot park is fully enclosed and features drinking fountains for pets and people.

Fred Anderson Park

This dog park on S. Wabash Ave. also provides dogs with 18,000 square feet of space to play. There’s also a separate area for small dogs, as well as water features and fountains.

Logan Square Dog Park

This newer dog park is located on N. Western Ave. near the Kennedy Expressway. The park features drinking fountains for dogs and separate play areas for large and small dogs, as well as benches for dog owners who need a rest.

Ohio Place Dog Park

Ohio Place Dog Park is the place to go if you have a larger breed. This park provides bigger dogs with a lot of space to roam around and stay active. Since there aren’t any water fountains at this park, you should bring water with you.

Ohio Street Dog Park

This is a triangular-shaped park that gives dogs plenty of room to run around or play with other dogs. Located on Kingsbury St., this park doesn’t have water fountains, so you’ll need to bring water for your pup.

Skinner Bark Park

Located on W. Monroe, this former parking lot now offers over 17,000 square feet of space for dogs to run around in. Skinner Bark Park includes water for dogs, but keep in mind that you’ll have to bring your own bags for cleaning up after them.

The Park at Lakeshore East

This is a smaller and somewhat more secluded dog park that offers over 6,000 square feet of space. This dog park uses specially designed K9 grass to provide a safe and comfortable surface for dogs.

Wiggly Field

Wiggly Field, located on W. National St. in Reed-Keppler Park, is a park that includes a separate area for smaller dogs to play. The park also has dog agility equipment.

Dog parks are great fun for everyone. However, sometimes, it’s rainy, muddy, cold and can be generally miserable for the humans. So on days when you can’t take the dog to playgroup, but still want them to have fun and get their energy out, consider bringing them to dog daycare for ½ or full days.

This was originally posted at https://www.dogonefunchicago.com/owning-a-dog/south-loop-chicago-dog-parks/

Getting your Dog ready for the Chicago winter

chicago winter.jpg
Chicago winters can be brutal when temperatures drop well below freezing and snow storms hit. This kind of weather can make it difficult for dogs to spend time outdoors, even when it’s just a quick dog walk so they can do their business. Take the following steps now to prepare your dog for winter weather.
Cover Your Dog to Keep Out the Cold
Bringing dogs outside in winter when they’re used to milder weather is hard for them to adjust to, especially if they have a thinner coat. Put a doggy coat or jacket on your pup when you head outdoors for walks. Having this kind of covering on helps keep their body warm and protected from wind and cold. If it’s snowing and their coat or jacket gets wet, take it off right away when you get back home. Wearing cold and wet apparel can raise their risk of dangerous health issues, such as hypothermia.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
A coat or jacket helps keep a dog’s body warmer overall, but don’t forget about their paws. Having to walk on freezing concrete can be uncomfortable and lead to injuries. Dogs that have to walk over rock salt on sidewalks can end up with burnt paw pads. The pads on their paws can also become cracked from exposure to the cold, and freezing temperatures can increase their risk of having frostbitten feet. Have your dog wear a pair of dog booties when you go out for walks. These booties protect your dog’s paws and lower the risk of injuries. Make sure you take them off as soon as you get home, so your dog won’t spread salt around your home. Licking this rock salt can be dangerous for dogs.
Look Into Indoor Fun
When it’s too cold for playtime outdoors, consider putting your dog in doggy daycare. This gives your dog a warm and safe place to stay physically active and spend time with other pups. With doggy daycare, you won’t have to worry about frostbite and other winter woes, and your dog won’t get bored being cooped up at home.

Options for your dog while you’re away for the holidays

Carefree restful little pug dog lying on blue bedclothes, embracThe holiday season is often a busy time thanks to family gatherings, work parties and other festive activities. If you plan on driving or flying elsewhere to see your family for the holidays or if you have a packed social schedule during this season, you’ll have to figure out how to make sure that your dog is cared for and has some company. These are just a few different options that are available for pet owners during the holidays.
Consider a Dog Walker
If you’re not going out of town, but you have several holiday festivities going on, look into hiring a dog walker. Professional dog walkers can stop by your home as often as needed to take your dog for walks. This allows your dog to eliminate regularly, get some physical activity and have plenty of attention when you’re not home. This can provide you with peace of mind as you go about your holiday activities.
Hire a Pet Sitter
Hiring a pet sitter to come to your home and care for your dog is another option to consider. Pet sitters can take dogs for walks, play with them, feed them, give them medicine if needed, and perform other tasks. However, keep in mind that some pet sitters only stop by a few times a day or less, which means your dog won’t have as much company overall. If you hire an in-home sitter, you would have to be comfortable letting someone you don’t know stay in your home while you’re away.
Find a Pet Boarding Facility
Boarding your dog is a better option if you’ll be away for the holidays and want to make sure that he has a lot of attention. Find a pet boarding facility that provides a clean and safe place for dogs and has friendly and experienced staff available to supervise them. You can also find pet boarding places that offer other services such as spa services, gourmet treats, and training sessions. If you choose this option for your dog, check the facility’s requirements for boarding, which usually include certain vaccinations and a temperament assessment.

Manage that dog hair with a Grooming Service designed for unruly shedding

groomed dog with lots of furDuring spring and fall, your clothes and furniture can easily end up covered in a coat of dog hair. It’s not just dogs with long, thick coats that shed. You also have to deal with dog hair everywhere when you have a dog with a shorter coat. While you can’t do anything to stop shedding from happening, you can do something about minimizing the amount of hair that gets all over.
Shed Management Program
At DoGone Fun, we offer a special grooming program that’s designed to address shedding and eliminate it as much as possible. In fact, this 8 to 10 step program can reduce shedding by 60 to 80 percent. This means you’ll have a lot less dog hair to deal with on your clothes and in your home. Since this program also reduces the amount of pet dander overall, friends or family with allergies might be able to visit you without sneezing and sniffling.
Keep in mind that this program works best when you have grooming done about every 4 to 6 weeks while your dog is shedding. How often your dog will need to be groomed depends on the type of coat and its length. Dogs with heavier coats or ones that shed more will need to come in more often. The grooming techniques we use for this Shed Management Program can effectively reduce shedding without damaging your dog’s skin or living hair. Your dog will still shed naturally, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy coat, but the amount of hair and dander in your home will be less.
If your dog isn’t used to being groomed, we recommend starting as early as possible. This can help ease any anxiety your dog might have about being handled. Getting your dog used to grooming at an early age makes it easier to stick to a regular grooming schedule, especially during shedding season. At DogGone Fun, we understand how nervous some dogs can be, and we take steps to make them feel as calm as possible. Our trained staff know how to provide grooming services while also keeping dogs comfortable.

Keeping your dog calm during the holidays

cute dog with gift sitting with happy girl in santa hat on backgThe holiday season is hectic enough for humans. Imagine what it’s like for dogs who don’t really understand what all the commotion is about. When you have a busy schedule during the holidays and gatherings to attend, your dog could act up out of anxiety or boredom. You can help your dog remain happy and calm throughout the holidays with these simple tips.
Go Through Training
Even if your dog already knows basic obedience commands, it doesn’t hurt to go over them again and make sure that she knows what to do. If your dog hasn’t had any obedience training so far, it’s important to teach her a few basic commands, such as “down” or “stay.” This can help you have more control over your dog’s behavior when you have holiday guests over, especially if she’s the type that tends to get excited and jump on people. Remember that you should never reward jumping or other unacceptable behavior with attention.
Keep Pet Toys Handy
If your dog will be spending a lot of time without you, make sure that you have plenty of toys available to keep her occupied. Give her safe chew toys, so she can gnaw away her frustration. You can also give her puzzle toys to figure out, since these challenging toys are ideal for preventing boredom. Keep in mind that dogs who are bored, anxious or frustrated can end up having behavioral issues, such as eliminating in the house or barking too much.
Look Into Doggy Daycare
Putting your dog in a daycare setting is a great idea when you’ll be busier than usual with holiday preparations or other activities. Doggie daycare provides opportunities for your dog to stay active and have fun playing with other dogs. This helps keep her brain and body busy, which lowers the risk of behavioral problems. If you’ll be traveling for the holidays, consider boarding your dog at a facility where she can spend time with other dogs. Instead of being cooped up and bored at home, she’ll have plenty of company and many chances to be physically active.

Grooming Through The Winter Months

Bathing a dog Golden RetrieverDogs usually don’t spend as much time outside running around in winter as they do in summer, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need grooming. Your dog won’t end up covered in dirt or mud when it’s snowy out, but regular grooming is still essential. Find out more about how you should groom your dog during winter.
Brush Your Dog’s Coat Regularly
Dogs can get matted or tangled coats in winter. When you don’t remove mats, your dog might need to get a haircut. With a shorter coat, your dog will have a more difficult time keeping warm outdoors in winter. You should brush your dog’s coat on a regular basis throughout winter. Keep in mind that the brush you’ll need and how often you should brush depend on the type of coat your dog has. Dogs with longer coats are more prone to getting mats and tangles than dogs with shorter coats.
Use a Moisturizing Shampoo
Some dogs develop dryness or skin irritation when it’s cold out. Regular dog shampoos can be too harsh on their skin during this time. If you have a dog who gets skin problems in winter, switch to a dog shampoo that has moisturizing or soothing ingredients, such as oatmeal. This can help your dog’s skin stay in good condition all season long. Make sure that you don’t bathe your dog too often in winter, since this can increase the risk of dry and irritated skin. Most dogs will only need a bath every few weeks or even every other month in winter.
Trim Your Dog’s Nails
Many dogs go on shorter walks during winter due to the cold and snow, which means they’re not spending as much time walking on concrete. When dogs walk around on sidewalks, this helps keep their nails from getting too long. With shorter walks, your dog could end up with longer nails that can be uncomfortable to walk on. Longer nails can also get snagged on rugs or furniture and tear off. Check your dog’s nails frequently in winter, and keep them trimmed to prevent this from happening.