Hands-On Training: 5 Signals to Teach Your Dog

Aug 24 2012 - 4:00am

Talk with your hands! While tiny treats [1] are key motivators to any positive training session, there's something else you should be doing — In addition to using the chosen words for sit, stay, and more, also select a distinctive gesture for each command. It's really up to you to choose the hand movement that feels natural, as long as you stick to it once you settle, but get inspired by standard signals and start this slideshow.

Source: Shutterstock [2]


Holding one finger pointed up is a great way to teach a dog to sit. While working on this trick, make sure to bring your arm from its natural position limp at your side up and into this position to signify the command.


Since I use the word "down" for lay down (and "off" to ask for no jumping), I accompany this word with a palm flat and facing the ground. If he's still not getting it from this signal alone, move your palm down towards the floor to show him where to go.


C'mere! The natural curling of a finger used to encourage kids to come is the same way to call a dog. While you can surely use several fingers in this motion, it can get distracting for a dog who's learning other signals that involve the whole hand so I'd recommend simply using the pointer finger to gesture him over.


Like a crossing guard would show at intersections, holding a hand with palm facing out and forward means stop or "stay." Try alternating this signal with the "come" gesture for an impromptu red light/ green light training game.

Bring It

This is a key command to any game of fetch . . . unless you want to be doing all the retrieving yourself. In addition to giving the verbal command, place your hand at doggie eye level with palm facing the pooch — it gives you the perfect placement to then receive the item as he learns to let it go right in your hand.

Remember, to teach a dog these hand signals, begin by using the word and the gesture and then alternate training until the pooch can do as you desire without you even opening your mouth!

Source URL