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Should I Teach My Dog to Obey Hand Signals?

What would your dog do if you gestured for him to come to you but verbally ordered him to stay? No, "get confused" is not the right answer. According to an inventive study by some Italian researchers, most dogs will ignore what you say and do what your hands tell them to do. The researchers gathered 15 Labrador Retrievers and 10 Golden Retrievers that had already been trained to follow both voice and hand commands. After confirming the dogs' willingness to comply with both types of signals, the researchers challenged the canines by giving contradictory commands -- one hand signal and one voice command. The results were clear: The dogs followed the gestures 70 percent of the time, or more than twice as often as they followed the verbal order. In their conclusion, the researchers said the test proved what most dog owners already know: Dogs are greatly influenced by the physical actions of their owners. "When dogs are equally accustomed to responding to visual and verbal commands, gestural cues are dominant," the report stated. "This supports the evidence that body language plays a major role, being the most important communication channel for dogs."

The dirt on dogs:

  • A border collie named Chase was taught the meaning of over 1,000 words and phrases.

  • More than half of all U.S. presidents have owned dogs, including Calvin Coolidge, who owned at least a dozen.

  • In Moscow, stray dogs have learned to ride the subway, getting off at locations where they know they'll be fed.

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More Info: Psychology Today

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