A laughing blue nose Staffy and a yearning Catahoula hound begging for a treat.

Sign Language for Dogs

Sign Language for Dogs

Choose your signals wisely for a clear message.

I've spent three years working as a Vegas Dealer. Not drugs. Not cards. Not as a roulette croupier. I'm a Vegas-style treat dealer. A treat dealer signaling; There's no more treats left for you, dog.

A casino croupier, or dealer, ends a shift during play. There are always games going. When a new croupier arrives at a gaming table to take over for the current dealer, there is a process. Etiquette as much as flair. Inherited protocols proclaiming no shenanigans on the house's part outside of the odds already stacked in their favor. The new dealer announces his arrival verbally. Casinos have their own verbiage specific, but it boils down to, "New dealer on the floor."

The current dealer sets his items down on the table in a prescribed pattern, clearly, with confidence. He displays the back of both his hands, then the open palms to all players at the table. Finally, he claps them and steps back one step. Players at the table can tip their exiting croupier at this time. The new croupier steps in front. The relieved croupier steps backwards never putting his back to the table until his replacement is in position. At that time, he walks off the floor.

It's the hand flipping and clapping I borrowed. And the flair. Dogs like flair.

Add a simple phrase or word to the signal.

Angus, a Catahoula Hound, has never been a foodie in the purest sense. Food is an option, that's all. Unless it's cantaloupe or something dad may be enjoying himself. 

It took a year for him to finally believe the hand flair. I added "All gone!" to the clap. He's good at disengaging immediately at year three. He may look over his shoulder hopeful, but he knows the game is over. He knows there are no shenanigans under the table. 

Dante, a Blue Nose Staffordshire, being the second to join the pack learns through Angus by default. Alas, Dante is a foodie. A Five Michelin Star Executive Chef. Except he isn't discriminating. This whole "all gone" is a scam to him. It can't be true; therefore, it is not true. In case you don't believe him, he will paw your knee, and dive, headfirst, between you and whatever you are leaning on that is in his way. Counter, table, chair, another human, a perceived ghost, a verbal sigh. He is a bumper car. A one dog demolition derby.

He past his first birthday and that "click" inside his brain, that all dog people understand, happened. He accepted the "flair-hand-clap all gone". He does leave with a staffy pout and bark that makes children run up trees, though.

Modify a learned signal and word pair for familiarity to a new message.

We've added another flair-hand-clap "enough".  When Angus and Dante get into a WWF wrestling match, jowls drooling, mouth growling, eyes popping, tails swinging, mega-zoomie chase ensuing. When Dante barrel rolls to avoid a head-on tackle it's time for the authoritative flair-hands-clap "ENOUGH"! I look like a home base umpire calling time-out. The neighbors stop what they are doing in their backyards. It's very effective.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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