Training Your Dog Or Puppy With Hand Signals

If you are looking at giving your dog an all-round training regime then you should include training with hand signals. Did you know that 60% of training is taken from body language cues? If you pay attention to what your body is doing when you are training your dog or puppy, you may find that there are already cues that they take from you.

For example, many people take off from the same foot when they are stepping off. If you are training your dog to heel, you will find that they are taking their cue off the actions of your feet rather than the voice command of heel.

Our voices change in volume and tone – our body language is much simpler to interpret by a dog. Dogs use body language to communicate with themselves, so it is how they are accustomed to giving and receiving communication – it’s hard wired into their DNA.

What are the steps to begin training with hand signals?

Train with hand signals as well as verbal first. Always use a short command, preferably one word. Be consistent – otherwise you will confuse your dog.

Teach your dog to sit. One way to do this is to hold their collar and raise a treat in front of their nose. The dog’s nose will follow the treat and his rear will hit the ground into a sit position. Use the verbal command “sit” to help the dog understand.

Once the basic action is understood, you can add the hand signal to the training. You should Stand up, and wave one open hand past the dog’s face toward your chest, palm up. Give the hand signal command again as you say the command “sit”.

Continue to use the voice command coupled with the hand signal until your dog understands. Then continue with the hand signal only. Any training takes time, but with persistence and patience you will be able to train your dog with hand signals.

Some Other Hand Signals You May Like To Try


Hold your palm towards their nose in a “stop” pose. Your dog should see the flat of your hand directly in front of their face.


Hold your arm out like you are shaking someone’s hand, bend your elbow and pass your hand across your chest until you touch your opposite shoulder. Do this movement slowly – you want to communicate clearly to your dog.

Lay or drop

Place your hand in front of you with your hand flat and the palm facing downwards. Drop your hand with your palm still flat in front of the dog as though you are pushing down on something.

Initially you may need to exaggerate the movements and start further down at your dog’s eye level to be sure of gaining their attention. As your dog progresses you can stand more upright and give the command from your own comfortable height.

Training with Repetition Gets Results

Like everything, repetition and positive reinforcement will give you the best results. Consistency and clear signals will help your dog understand what you need from them in your training. You can train anywhere once your dog has the basics. Before you give them their food, when you let them into the house, before you go for a walk and put on their leash. The list is endless for opportunities for you to train your dog or puppy.