Monday, February 9, 2009

The Importance of Hand Signals

Jenn can't speak! She opens her mouth and nothing comes out. Very weird. You'd think that would mean anarchy around here. I guess it's a good thing that she taught us dogs hand signals for all our commands. Hmph! And I was all ready for things to get wild and crazy.
You see, we dogs are visual learners and we really don't understand English (even though a lot of humans think we do). We can learn associations between certain behaviors and certain sounds or phrases, but we learn faster if what you teach us is associated with a visual signal. Deaf dogs can learn all commands this way very successfully.

One of Jenn's favorite books, "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell describes how a study taught beagle puppies how to sit using visual vs. verbal signals. Within a short amount of time, almost all the puppies responded to the visual signal but hardly any to the verbal signal.

It is also helpful for all dogs to know hand signals, then we can easily respond to everyone in the family, not just the person with a particular sounding voice. That way, if you ever lose your voice or there is a lot of noise going on around you, you can still communicate with your dog.

So when you teach your puppy something new, think about teaching a hand signal with the verbal signal.

You can learn more about teaching hand signals at the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund website.

Any check out Dr. Patricia McConnell's book "The Other End of the Leash".


Niamh said...

You are so right Royal. When I am distracted, hand signals work much better than verbal signals.

We missed you and Bernie at Drill Team. We finished our new routine!! The last part is not too hard and looks cool. Hope Jenn gets better soon so we can see you on Monday.

Your friend,

Ayla said...

Sandi has taught us hand signals, too. It's hard for me to concentrate sometimes and I rely alot on hand signals and body cues!

Niamh is right. We have finished the new drill team routine and it is going to be another fun one! We miss you in our lineup.

It was fun running with you in the park Monday. Let's do it again soon!

Your friend, Ayla

Ayla said...

ps. Jenn has very cool things on your blog. The moving hand is great. Sandi is so lame with the computer, she's lucky to get photos on my blog. If it weren't for Auntie Barbara (who remembers to bring her camera with her) we wouldn't have any photos!