Training With Hand Signals

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


I'm the Bee's- Knees!

Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 3:37pm PST 
I adopted Beasley in August. She is anywhere between 10 and 14 years old and deaf. I would like to teach her a few hand signals, but I don't even know where to begin. I would like to start with sit and stay (maybe down), and work toward coming when called.

She is a wonderfully well-behaved dog, so I'm not worried about her being ill-trained, I just think it will be fun activity in which for us to participate together .

I'm also wondering if you have every heard of using a signal for a deaf dog's name?

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations.

Edited by author Thu Nov 29, '12 3:48pm PST


bitches love- pantaloons
Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 7:39pm PST 
I trained Nick on both verbal and hand signals. I found these 2 pages very helpful when drawing ideas for hand signals-
Universal Commands
Teaching Hand Signs

As for teaching signs, my guess would be that luring the dog into the behavior, then luring and adding the hand signal, then just using the hand signal would be how it's done.

Edited by author Thu Nov 29, '12 7:40pm PST


The Monster
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 6:44am PST 
Nicky has it right.

I just wanted to add that dogs understand hand signals much more easily than they understand verbal - dogs are masters of body language, and it's us humans who insist on doing things verbally.

Start luring a behaviour, fade the food lure but use the same gesture. With enough repetitions your dog will understand the gesture and you can begin making the gesture a bit smaller. Most of the hand signals I give my dog are "stylized" signals from when I used to lure her.

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 8:44am PST 
I teach hand signals the same way, Cobain. I've found them quite useful -- you can direct the dog when you are having a conversation, watching tv, etc. without interruption.

When I was a young child, I trained my deaf Dalmatian puppy with hand signals quite well. She was one of my better-trained doggies, lol.

One technique I used was a light stamp to get her attention. Nothing scary.

Now I am dealing with a deaf 14-year-old cat. I would appreciate any suggestions.

I'm the Bee's- Knees!

Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 2:59pm PST 
Thanks everyone, I can't wait to try these!

Until there's- none.....
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 4:08pm PST 
Dogs understand body language much easier than they understand verbal language, so I would not worry too much! I agree, I would lure, fade and morph the lure into your hand signal. Check out Pat Miller's The Power of Positive Dog training for some good ideas.
MACH4 PACH2- Aslan

Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 11:16pm PST 
I wrote an article on training deaf dogs. Here is the link:

http://agilitymach.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Train-a-Deaf-Dog -Basic-Obedience-Tips-for-Dogs-Who-Cant-Hear

It has some links to some sites that are also very helpful, and it has videos of my hard of hearing boy working. It also discusses hand signals and some of the pitfalls that can occur. It may give you some ideas.

Good luck!!

Member Since
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 8:22pm PST 
If your dog is deaf, you might want to lure him into the sitting position first and then add in the sit signal. Continue doing this until he learns that that is the signal meaning sit.

Dogs do learn things fast, especially if there are visual commands associated with the verbal commands. As we all know, dogs don't speak English but they do understand patterns. As long as you are consistent with the signal you use, then he'll eventually learn to associate that signal with the command.