Since you can’t exactly talk to your pet, using hand signals for dogs is a great way to train them and get them to follow your commands. By using simple gestures, you establish a clear line of communication with your furry friend without needing to say a word. Let’s have a peek at some of the basics to get you started.
How to Train Your Dog with Hand Signals
First thing’s first, you need to establish a connection between verbal commands and the hand signals you’ll be using. So either you keep your gestures consistent, or you use a treat or any other reward to reinforce that connection.
This will help your puppy understand that the hand signal you’re making means the same thing as the command you’re saying. When the two are paired together often enough, preferably on a daily basis, they’ll eventually make the association on their own.
Not only is this a more effective communication skill for deaf dogs or those that have difficulty concentrating, but hand signals can also come in handy when you’re in noisy environments and need to get your pup’s attention without yelling.
Common Hand Signals for Dogs
Now that you know how to properly introduce these gestures to your dog, you’re ready take on the next step. Seeing as approximately 94% of pet owners do at least a little training at home, you should know the basic list of dog commands and hand signals you can try out in your practice runs.
Kicking things off with what is perhaps the most common command, teaching your pooch to sit on cue is definitely one of the easiest tricks to learn. All you need to do is raise your hand in the air with your palm facing them and say “sit.” Keep your movements natural and avoid any sudden jerking, which might startle your pet.
As soon as their little tush hits the ground, give them a treat and some verbal praise to let them know they’ve done a good job. After all, food and basic training go hand in hand when it comes to basic dog care essentials. With enough repetition, your four-legged friend will learn to associate these hand commands for dogs with the desired behavior.
For this one, you’ll extend your arm out in front of you, with your palm facing downwards. Move your hand up and down slightly, motioning for your dog to stand up as you give the verbal cue of “stand.”
You can also place a treat in front of their nose and slowly move it upwards, prompting them to follow the snack with their eyes and eventually stand up on all fours to get to it. Once they’re in a standing position, give them the treat and some pats on the head to show your approval.
When it comes to beginner dog sign language, asking your pup to remain in one spot when you walk away is a great place to start. Focus their attention on a treat by holding it in front of their nose and moving it from one side to the other.
When they start following the treat with their head, give the verbal command “stay” and take one step back. If they stand their ground, increase the distance between the two of you by taking another step back.
If your dog moves from their spot, simply guide them back with the treat and start again. Once they get the hang of it and can stay in one spot for a few seconds, give them the treat along with some verbal praise.
For this gesture, place your index finger horizontally in front of your chest and do a diagonal sweep towards the ground. As you do this, give the verbal command of “lie down.” You can have a treat in a closed fist to get their attention and move it in a downwards motion as you sweep your finger.
When they lie down, offer them a reward and some verbal praise so they know they’ve done the right thing. You can also try this with a toy instead of a treat, especially if your dog isn’t food-motivated.
Among the puppy training hand signals, this is one of the most important ones to learn. After all, you’ll definitely need to call your dog back to you at some point, especially if they’ve wandered off into the distance or are in some form of danger.
To do this, simply extend your arm out to the side with your palm facing downwards and sweep it towards your chest while saying “come.” You can also lure them in by taking a few steps back while calling their name and patting your leg.
If your dog happens to pick up something they’re not supposed to, like a stick or piece of trash, dropping it immediately on cue is a good skill for them to have. This way, you can avoid any potential messes or dangers that might come from them chewing on something they’re meant to avoid.
To get them to let go of whatever’s in their mouth, extend your closed fist in front of their nose and open it as you say the verbal commands. The opening of your hand should prompt them to drop the item so they can see what’s inside. As soon as they do, pat them on the head and offer them a treat.
This one is definitely one of the more advanced hand motions for dog training, but it’s still a fun one to try out with your furry friend. Start with your pet in a laying down position and move a treat in a circular motion over their head.
As they follow the treat with their eyes, their body should start to roll over. Once they’re in a belly-up position, hand them the treat and some words of affirmation.
You can do this in an upwards motion as well if your dog is struggling to roll all the way over. Just keep moving the treat in a circular pattern until they eventually end up on their back.
This one is definitely more for show than anything else, with most people using it as a way to show off their dog’s impressive skills. But it’s still an exciting one to teach, and your pooch will love the extra attention and treats that come with it.
To start, hold a treat in your hand and place it against your dog’s paw. As they try to get the treat, use your other hand to lift their paw up and give it a light tap.
When they eventually lift their paw on their own, say the verbal command of “high five” and offer the treat in return. With a little bit of practice, they’ll start to associate the words with the motion and be able to do it whenever you ask.
There you have it – the most common hand signals for dogs you can have a swing at teaching your beloved pet. Take your time to learn your little friend’s behavioral patterns and attention span before getting too ahead though – some dogs will take to the gestures like a duck to water, while others may require more patience and training.
But as long as you remain consistent with your commands and have plenty of treats on hand, you’ll be high-fiving your pooch in no time. Just remember to have fun with it and enjoy the process – after all, that’s what dog training is all about!