Hand Signals to Teach Your Dog

Hand Signals to Teach Your Dog Hand Signals to Teach Your Dog
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Teaching your dog hand signals is a great way to improve your communication with your pet. Most pets are able to respond better when an auditory command is paired with a hand signal. Many pet owners introduce this at a young age and it is a great training technique that becomes even more invaluable as your dog grows older. Pets can lose some degree of their hearing as they age, which is why these hand signals can really come in handy! We’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 commands you can teach your dog today. 

How to Train:

Your pet needs to learn the association between the verbal command and hand signals. The most effective way to teach your dog is to follow these 2 steps:

  1. Keep your hand signal simple, and
  2. Reinforce behavior with rewards (treats and praise).

Once your dog is accurately responding to your commands, slowly fade out the reward. If your dog already is familiar with the standard commands: sit, stay etc., then making the transition to hand signals is fairly straight-forward. Training is best when you work with your pet daily. If you make it a priority, your dog will pick up the hand signals quickly! 


If you want to completely shift from auditory commands to only nonverbal cues this is an extremely important first step. To allow your pet to learn they first need to ‘look’ to be able to watch what command you want them to do. Whenever they look attentively at you, reward with a treat. It helps to keep a small treat in your hand when first teaching-your dog’s eyes will be on the prize!


The most widely used command for any dog. This is often the first training your dog receives. The gesture is simple, have your hand palm facing the sky at your chest and move your hand in an upward motion. When you first start training be sure to pair the verbal command “sit” with the hand signal.

3. FINGER POINT DOWN - Lie down.

Another great signal to help settle your dog is lay down. The action for this command is to hold your finger pointed up at your chest and do a sweeping diagonal motion down. Have a treat in your hand while training and your dog’s nose is sure to follow!


Teaching your dog to stay or wait is one of the most important commands. This nonverbal command is great for safety if you are out in public places or by busy streets. Train your dog with both your auditory command and hand signals, test by walking backwards with your palm facing outward at the level of your chest. Make sure your pet stays until you ask them to come.


Another meaningful command is to call your dog to come. Start with your hand open at your side and diagonally bring it to your opposite shoulder. This is a must when you are out in areas where your dog is off leash. 

It is always important to positively reinforce your dog with verbal praise and treats during the training process. And our Primal Treats make a great training tool to reward your pet! Remember to be patient and have fun with the training process. Use these five training tips as an opportunity to form an even deeper bond with your pet!