Teaching Your Dog Hand Signals

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Teaching your dog hand signals is very important in dog training, but all too often overlooked. Knowing hand signals not only helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog, but it could also come down to life and death!

If you have not gotten our FREEBIE {Top 4 Ways Hand Signals Could Save Your Dog’s Life} be sure to download it here!

Since dogs do not speak English they pick up on body language very quickly. Guaranteed, your dog understands more of your body cues than you think.

There are much more every day practical ways to benefit from this pup lingo. Here are just a few:



Say you have a bunch of friends over for the football game on Sunday (GO HAWKS!). You guys get a little loud and noisy. You look over just in time to see your dog inching closer and closer to the nachos. Instead of yelling “NO!” over everyone, you can get your dog’s attention back with hand signals. You know he is keeping an eye on you because he knows he is not allowed the hooman foods. Give him “the look” and point him to his bed.

Or maybe you have a quiet movie night with friends. You happen to be watching a movie that shows a scene of dogs… horses… cats… {Insert any animal that makes you pup want to stand nose to TV screen}. Instead of having to keep saying “down” throughout the movie, missing all the plot twists, give her the hand signal for down as soon as you see her move.




Have you ever had a cold and coughed until you lost your voice? Or maybe you had some dental work done and your face is too numb to talk. Think of any situation that would make speaking and someone (your dog) understanding you very difficult.

Or even if you are anything like me and just don’t want to talk early in the morning (That counts as a sickness, right?).

Why go to the effort of trying to keep slurring out words through your dental gauze? Or making your sore throat and hoarse voice even worse? Pup doesn’t get it. This is when you turn to your trusted hand signals.


Old Age

One of the first things that go in a doggie’s old age is his hearing. You will be very glad that you have had years of practice with your gesturing communication. Plus your dog will already have a good handle on always keeping focus on you. Having earlier experience with your body language, your dog will automatically cue onto your gestures when his hearing starts to go.



I have known many dogs who have ended up in the shelter because they have been “disobedient”; As it turns out, they were not at all defiant – they were deaf. It takes just the right owner to take on a deaf pupper, but with the mastery of doggie/hooman sign language will make life easier.



If you ever plan on working with your dog, hand signals will make all the difference; depending on the sport, they may be mandatory, as many dog sports depend on hand signals alone. Whether you are planning on taking pup out in the field to hunt or down to the park for agility, your dog’s attention must be on you.



What Commands Should We Learn?

Choosing what gestures to use when teaching your dog hand signals is mostly up to you, the handler. However, for signals that will be used mostly for safety purposes, you will want to start with “grand” gestures. Using big gestures ensures that your dog will be able to decipher and understand your command from a distance, like across the yard.

If you do join up in a sport later down the line, each sport will have their own hand signals to learn along the way. If you are new to dog sign language, I suggest you start by teaching your dog my top 5 commands and the most common hand signal for them:

  • Come: Open arms out to sides palms in. Bring them to your chest
  • Down: One hand flat palm down. Push down to the floor.
  • Sit: One hand flat palm up. Bend arm at elbow bringing hand up.
  • Wait/Stay: Hand flat palm out towards your dog.
  • Place: Full arm point

Feel free to adapt your gestures for whatever situation you feel is best for you and your canine. Here is more information on hand signals with a visual guide.

We would love to hear your story. Let us know in the comments below what hand signals your dog knows and if they have ever come in [extra] handy.

Thanks, guys! And Until next time, Stay Paws-sit-tive! 

Hand signals are very important in dog training, but all too often overlooked. Here are some practical ways teaching your dog hand signals is important.

4 Responses

  1. omshantipups
    | Reply

    I love this! I inadvertently taught R&R hand signals when they were baby dogs before I even knew that was a thing! They still respond better to those than to verbal commands.

    • Front Seat Ryder
      | Reply

      Nice!! Ryder is really good with hand signals too. They pick up on body language so easily!! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. 😁

  2. Jane
    | Reply

    It’s a great idea to use hand signals instead of verbal commands! It can also help you to keep yourself calm, because gestures can’t be too loud 🙂

    • Frontseatryder
      | Reply

      That is very true!! Thanks for visiting. 🙂

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