Dog trained in sign language gets 'paws up' in online video

(RNN) - Forget whistling. Some dogs seem to respond better if you just use your hands.

Shinook, a 6-year-old shepherd mix that understands American Sign Language, is the star of a YouTube video posted by his owner, Fred Dixon.

The dog performs a series of tasks that include fetching his blanket, giving high-fives and bringing his master a bucket of treats. The treats are for the dog, of course.

In a separate video, Shinook shows that he has good manners and that he has a spiritual side.

And he does all that from a series of commands that Dixon issues with simple hand movements.

"As you can see, he's a high-maintenance dog," Dixon said.

Interestingly enough, Shinook - a registered therapy dog - does not appear to be deaf. Although responding primarily to hand signs, he does react alertly to occasional finger snaps and voice commands.

Dixon did not reveal how and why he trained his dog to learn sign language, but it's a safe bet that Marlee Matlin would approve.

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