What hand signals to use with a Deaf Dog

When it comes to hand signals for your dog, there are no “wrong” signals.  You can use whatever you feel most comfortable with, as long as you are consistent.

There are a few basic obedience signs, but not enough to communicate with your deaf dog. The advantage of using these is that most people who have trained a dog will give your dog basic commands. Some people use ASL (American Sign Language), just as they would for a deaf person. This can be an advantage because anyone who knows ASL will be able to talk to your dog. Some people use modified ASL so that they can hold a leash in one hand and talk to the dog with the other. Some people make up all their signs (you will probably still want an ASL dictionary, as it can be challenging to invent signs with nothing to go on). Most people end up using a combination (i.e., obedience signs and then one-handed ASL). Anything you choose is “right” for you and your dog.

The following examples and ASL suggestions given on this page are just that, examples. Feel free to use (or not) anything given.

WAIT signal

Hold a flat palm at him, so he doesn’t bolt out.

RELEASE signal

Open arms from closed hands.

GOOD DOG signal 

Thumb up and smile.

NO signal 

Use a stern face with a SHAKING FOREFINGER  or pop on the leash

ENCOURAGEMENT signal

To encourage your dog along, tap your leg.

SIT signal 

Straight arm from elbow out with a flat palm facing up.  Move your arm from bottom to top.

DOWN at SIDE signal 

Straight arm from elbow out with a flat palm and your elbow at the side.  Do not make any movement.

DOWN from FRONT signal

Straight arm bent from elbow parallel with the body and a flat palm facing forward.

PLACE signal 

Index finger pointing at the area

COME signal 

Straight arm with flat palm facing toward you while bringing your palm toward your chest.

HEEL signal 

Straight arm with a flat palm facing your dog.  Twist your palm from back to front.

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