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Visual cues

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visual cues in dog training

In the first stages of dog training, many owners use luring to get the dog to do what they want.

Whether its a sit or a down, big gestures are used to get the dog to obey.

It might be turning the hand up to get a sit.

Or pointing to the floor for a down.

Visual cues can really help a dog to understand what is being asked.

Dogs rely heavily on body language.

They can read us better than we can read them.

Sometimes its a positive, to teach new behaviours.

In agility, I don’t verbally cue Rio to jump over every single jump.

He naturally follows my body and hand to tell him which jump to take.

But it can also be a detriment

If you unwittingly cue your dog to act.

Tightening the lead when you see another dog, could create a reaction from your dog.

The tension is travelling down the leash, and telling the dog you are scared, then he becomes nervous too.

Or staying as still as a statue while training a stay, and only moving when you release the dog. This can become an predictor for your dog, your movement breaks the stay!

Making it harder to train the next stages of a stay by adding distractions and movements.

Hand gestures are useful for distance control

If your dog is out of hearing range, deaf,or if like me, you can’t shout very loud, visual cues are super useful.

Raising a hand for an emergency stop.

Directing a dog to the direction of the retrieve in gun dog training.

Or using arm signals in agility to direct the dog to the right obstacle.

In the latter, I still use a verbal cue to help, (or maybe it’s for my own benefit).

When training basic commands, visual cues should be dropped pretty quickly.

In my classes, we don’t want to rely on using a our hand to keep the dog in a stay.

Or pointing to the floor for a down.

Its just not practical in every day life.

The dog learns it as we teach their behaviours by luring.

So I teach owners to rely on it less and less very early on in their training.

It leads to a better trained dog. A more reliable dog.

And let’s face it, it means you don’t have to be pointing to the floor to get your dog to down in public.

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