Used instead of verbal cues to communicate with your deaf border collie, hand signals provide a means to express your desires, directions, and commands. Border collies are extremely intelligent and handler-focused and being deaf doesn't present much of an obstacle to training.
When teaching a verbal cue, you help your dog perform the behavior, say the command and give a reward. Teaching a hand signal follows the same steps. Lure your dog into the proper position and either allow the lure to become the hand signal or give the hand signal directly after your dog is in position. Always reward your pooch for proper performance and keep things upbeat and positive.
The standard obedience commands are sit, down, stay, come and heel. By mastering those five behaviors, your pooch will know the basics necessary to be easily handled in public, have good house manners and be safe while out and about. Instead of giving a verbal command to cue your deaf border collie to perform a behavior, you'll use a hand signal instead. Often, the best hand signal is the same one used when luring your pup into position when you're initially teaching the command. For example, the hand signal for "sit" might be to raise your dog's nose height to slightly above her head.
Because your border collie is unable to hear approaching dangers, it's necessary for you to be able to communicate instantly and without fail that you need her to either come back to you immediately or you need her to drop like a rock, exactly where she is and wait until you come to get her. When teaching and practicing the emergency signals, always provide high-value rewards so your pooch learns to respond quickly and consistently. In the obedience world, the universal hand signal for a moving or emergency down is a hand held straight up in the air above your head. For an emergency recall, many people throw their arms straight out to the sides of their body, palms facing outward.
One of the most important signals your border collie will learn is her name. Pick a unique, fun sign for your pooch's name and utilize it often. Pair it with treats so it gains value and meaning for your pup and use it before other hand signals to catch her attention. Other signals you might consider adding to your repertoire include "good dog," "no" as well as any other words you use often such as walk, cookie, leash or car ride.
Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.