Can you teach your dog sign language?

What are your animals saying? Teach them to tell you more with AnimalSign. Want two-way communication with your pets? (Helps deaf and blind dogs too!)

Babies use Baby Sign®, gorillas use Gorilla Sign, now domestic animals can use AnimalSign. They can sign, too! Signing is NOT just for primates anymore!

AnimalSign is a gestural language animals learn to visibly communicate TO you.

- Expands natural & learned communication: gesturing, tapping, and vocalizing.
- Enriches companion, service, working, rescue, and sanctuary/zoo animals’ lives.
- Enhances interspecies communication, trust, bonding, and relationships.
- Promotes polite behavior through communication-based training.

More information is at this link.

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4 Responses to “Can you teach your dog sign language?”

  1. Sheryle Singer says:

    I noticed on the video that you have to give your dog a treat each time she does a “trick”. If you have to ask her to do something it is not communication, it is a trick, nothing more northing less. Communication is when the dog initiates and you respond .I have a 1 year old Yorkie who signs unasked. She will raise her paw high when she wants a treat. She taps me when she wants attention, usually to tell me something. She scrunches up her lips, shows her teeth and closes her eyes when she wants out. She taps me and makes a sound like woo woo when she is hungry. When she barks and I hold my fingers to my mouth in a “shh” and say whisper, she actually barks softly. she brings a toy to me when she wants to play, nibbles on my finger when she wants cuddles, she bows when praised, waves bye bye when I leave the house, and shakes her head no when I get her towel for a bath. She will also bring me a kibble from her dish when I do something right. She brings her brush, she lays down when I point to the floor, returns a hi 5. She communicates

  2. A says:

    Congratulations on having such a well trained yorkie, but..

    Nothing that your yorkie does denotes communication by your very own definition. You give her a “treat” every time she does something positive.

    Taps when she wants attention – attention is the treat
    scrunches her lips… – outside is the treat
    taps and goes whoo whoo – SHE GETS A TREAT!
    bring a toy – Playing is the treat
    nibbles finger – cuddling is the treat

    “She will also bring me a kibble from her dish when I do something right.”

    and apparently she does the same to you. You’re not communicating, you both are doing “tricks” for each other – by your definition.

    You have your way and everyone else has their way. “Treats” can be any positive result whether it’s food or a consequence. Don’t hate on them just because they give treats.

  3. Sheryle Singer says:

    Somehow you missed the point of what I said. It is not the treat that makes it a trick. It is the following of commands. If the dog initiates such as showing it has to go out, it is communication and not a trick. So, for example, when I said that my pup taps me to get my attention, then raises her paw for a treat, it is communication because the dog initiated. I did not tell her to do anything. It is not the motivation of the reward that counts, it is the initiation of the communication. Quite different from following a command. Telling an animal to do something and when they do it…is good training , it is not communicating. An animal making its wants known, on its own volition, is communication. PS I certainly don’t “hate on them” what ever that means, nor am I putting them down But calling a mouse an elephant does not make it one, and saying a well trained animal is communicating because it followed a command is not an animal who is communicating.

  4. Misty says:

    I think you are both right, actually. The Yorkie is getting positive reinforcement, yes. (And apparently so are you.) That is how you train. First you have to reinforce the behavior you want, whether you use food or some other form of PR.

    The dogs learning sign are reinforced and at first they are doing a “trick” (cause and effect). (Hmm…If I move my foot this way she will get me water. Interesting.) Then eventually they will start to do it on their own and you can ask it a question, “What do you want?” “Walk” and voila! it becomes communication.

    (Also, why is it communication if a baby makes the sign for ball but not if a dog makes the same sign?)

    “Senechal never claims that animals are actually assimilating language. She suggests that they are associating gestures with objects and actions.”

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