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What a fun thread! As you notice, many of us use totally different non-verbal commands for the same thing. It's between you and your dog.

Someone told me that dogs are far more attuned to body language than to verbal commands. That's mostly how they communicate with each other. It can even be a head nod or the lift of an eyebrow when they start learning to watch you. I can give my spoo a hand signal from 30 feet away and he responds. Of course he has to be in line of sight, but it is rare that he isn't.

I taught little kids to give him the hand signal I use for sit and he even minds a two year old. Adorable!
 

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I use down for lay down. Off for get off me or bed or... I did use a lot of hand signals as well as verbal commands in the beginning but had a problem on a walk when I had all three dogs on leashes and needed him to sit and he didn't seem to understand so started working on not using a hand signal for sit. It's always more difficult anyway when there are distractions (other dogs and people).
 

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Discussion Starter #44
I use down for lay down. Off for get off me or bed or... I did use a lot of hand signals as well as verbal commands in the beginning but had a problem on a walk when I had all three dogs on leashes and needed him to sit and he didn't seem to understand so started working on not using a hand signal for sit. It's always more difficult anyway when there are distractions (other dogs and people).
That's a very good point! Peggy will sit with a verbal command, but she's extra snappy about it with a hand signal. I'll work on this more.

I do think dogs are generally more tuned into our body language than our voices. Think how much meaningless noise they must filter out of their daily lives?

Peggy started responding much better to my training attempts when I cut out the chatter. The clicker helps a lot with that.
 

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I did a one week silent retreat without a word :)

I use both voice and body language. My favorite command is verbal "What did I say?". And then he stops and thinks and does what I last directed.

You can see him thinking and then doing it really slowly watching me intently to see if he got the right one! He can make a really long drawn out 'down' by sitting and then sliding his feet out in front extremely slowly staring into my eyes.
 

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In Raven’s training class, we have been working on the command discrimination execises for some time using hand signals. Recently just to mix it up we started alternating giving only hand or only verbal and it was very interesting which dogs could do both and who could not. Raven had never done the stand without a signal but picked it up really fast. I like The idea of them knowing both so now I am already introducing both to Wren.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
In Raven’s training class, we have been working on the command discrimination execises for some time using hand signals. Recently just to mix it up we started alternating giving only hand or only verbal and it was very interesting which dogs could do both and who could not. Raven had never done the stand without a signal but picked it up really fast. I like The idea of them knowing both so now I am already introducing both to Wren.
That's such a good idea. I think one can be more powerful than the other in certain situations. I had Peggy at a rocky beach today, which was pure sensory overload. I tried some simple verbal commands and it was like she couldn't even hear me through all the stimuli!

But a simple "sit" hand gesture snapped her out of it, and we were able to do actually a pretty nice training session in a very challenging environment.
 
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