Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking or feeling when dog training? Or perhaps you are looking for ways to understand your hound better and determine the best response when they display signs of dog anxiety or when they are happy or depressed?
Good news! You can learn to communicate with your furry friend. Dogs communicate in various ways, and understanding how they do this can help pet parents 'talk' to their hounds.
One way pet parents can speak to their hounds is by using sign language. Yes, it's possible! With patience, practice, and commitment, you can teach a dog sign language and open up a new realm of communication between you.
How Dogs Communicate
Before we dive into how to teach your hound sign language, it helps to understand the basics of dog behavior. Learning how your dog communicates and interacts with their environment, other animals and, of course, you can help pet parents pick up on subtle hound cues that show exactly how they feel.
Dogs Communicate in two ways:
Have you ever looked at your dog and felt they were frowning or silently laughing at you? Or perhaps you told them off for a small misdemeanor, and you've been subjected to the saddest puppy-dog eyes ever!
The reason for this is simple. Dogs, unlike their wolf ancestors, have a lot of facial muscle control. This means they can control how their eyebrows move, which allows them to display a range of facial expressions when happy, sad, or even amused. Yes, your hound can communicate complex emotions; it's not just your doggie imagination playing tricks on you!
Body language forms a large part of communication between a hound and their pet parent, and it's also one of the simplest ways to identify signs your dog is depressed. For example, when a dog puts its tail between its legs, they might be sad, afraid or worse, struggling with dog anxiety.
However, when their ears perk up and their tails wag, it's an obvious sign they are happy. Most pet parents will agree that physical body language, aka hound-body-speak, is much easier to spot and understand than facial expressions.
Sign Language for Dog Training
When teaching a dog sign language, it's best to start small. For example, basic dog training commands such as sit, stay, and come can be done with visual hand signals for each word.
Extend your index and middle finger on both hands. Then tap your right hand's two fingers on top of your left hand's fingers to simulate two legs sitting. Tell your dog to sit as you sign.
Using the sign for 'remain' is extremely useful when out and about or off-leash training, as it's easy for your hound to recognize from a distance. First, extend both hands in front of you with your thumb and pinky finger sticking out. The rest of your fingers should be tucked into each palm. Then using your wrists, bounce your hands up and down twice as you say the word 'remain'.
Extend your index finger on both hands and motion with your hands towards your body (point at yourself) as you say the word 'come'.
Use treats or their favorite food as positive reinforcement when your hound understands and responds to the command given with a visual cue. After mastering the basic commands, you can start to introduce more complex signs. The ASL (American Sign Language) online language dictionary is an excellent tool for learning cool sign language to use when dog training.
Final Word or Woof
Using sign language is an incredibly powerful way to bond with your hound and get to know them better than ever before. In addition, it will improve communication between the two of you and give you a deeper understanding of how your hound communicates and expresses themselves.