Hand signals are a great way to teach your dog. Many expert dog trainers have come up with dog training signals chart which we have shared below and you can also access here. Hand signals involve using not just the hands (palms) but sometimes the entire body. With right obedience training hand signals, you can get your dog to assume certain positions, move, stay, and heel or perform certain tasks.
Why are dog training hand signals effective?
Dogs observe our body language. They understand emotions and feelings through our facial expressions and also modulation and tone of voice. Dogs understand when we are happy, tired, sick or upset. That is the reason why we can take advantage of their ability to interpret visual signals. In this guide, we will be discussing five helpful and practical hand signals and also follow the AKC dog training hand signals chart below.
Top 5 Hand signals to teach your dog
The hand clap is an easy-to-use and effective hand signal. It involves sound as well as action. The reason why hand clap is the first signal to teach your dog is because it helps get its attention. This signal lacks flexibility and can be used for this purpose only. An advantage of using hand clap for getting your pet’s attention is that you do not have to yell. You need to teach your pet to look at you when you clap. He is, ideally, supposed to drop everything he is doing and wait for further commands. Avoid giving a series of claps; ideally only one clap is required. The hand clap also serves following functions:
- Stop your puppy from making a mistake
- Divert his attention to you when distracted
- When he is being bad
- Or if you want him to greet guest
How to train:
- Read a book or magazine and wait until your pet is distracted and looks at something else.
- Now clap loudly, once.
- If he looks at you-reward him with his favorite food/treat
- Do this over and over increasing time between his response and your reward.
- This will gradually increase the time you can hold his attention.
Directed Go or Drop hand signal
This is a practical hand signal to teach your dog to go in a particular direction. It can also be combined with hand signals and commands to make your pet drop something (Go drop it) or the command to fetch something (Go fetch it!).
How to train
- Position yourself next to your dog. Both you and your dog should face in the direction you want him to go in. You should also be close enough to him to accurately send him to the right spot.
- Swing out your hand and arm in direction you want him to go. As you finish extending your arm, give the command ‘Go’.
- In case you want him to retrieve something- say “Fido (dog name), go get it” as you swing your hand and arm towards the article.
- It helps to bend your knees a bit as you can balance better.
There are a few issues that may arise when teaching the Directed Go hand signal. Dogs tend to veer to the side or not go in proper direction. It helps to teach the directed Go by a wall to keep the pet on track. Practice as much as you can so you will be able to send Fido in the direction you want.
Directed Come/Fetch hand signal
This one is a bit tricky but it is very useful signal that can even get you to have your pet fetch objects. It also assumes that your pet also knows the ‘stay’ command. Also, in the beginning, you might have to place the object you want him to fetch in direct line between you and your pet. Later on, with practice, you can get your pet to fetch objects that are not in direct line between you and him.
How to train
- Start by getting your pet to ‘stay’.
- Place the object you want him to fetch at least 3 feet away from him.
- You need to stand at least 5 feet away from the object and also make sure that the object is several feet off direct line between you and your pet.
- Say your dog’s name-give the directed ‘come’ signal and ask him to ‘Come get it’.
- Directed come signal is performed by swinging the arm straight to the side. Keep hand signal at your pet’s eye level. You might have to bend your knees a bit.
- Keep your hand open, with palm facing him, to get his full attention.
- Leave your arm extended until your pet grabs the object.
- If he passes the object you want fetched push him gently towards it. When he does get it-let rewards and praises flow!
Hand signal to heel
Heel is a basic command that every dog needs to learn.
How to train
- You give the hand signal with left hand moving from left to right palm down, in front of dog’s eyes.
- First give the signal together with the command.
- After several repetitions, eliminate the command.
This command is very useful when people come at the door. When in stay, your dog holds his current position until released.
How to train
- Start with your pet sitting or lying down-he is less likely to move from these positions.
- You can use a leash to guarantee control.
- Stand directly in front of him and in a serious tone say ‘Stay’.
- Maintaining eye contact with him, move away certain distance and keep saying ‘good stay’. You can give him a treat. Be sure you treat and praise while your dog remains in ‘stay’ position.
- If your dog moves from his position, gently, but firmly put him back in the same spot where he was to stay.
- Gradually increase the time of ‘stay’ and also increase distance between yourself and him. If your dog moves, you will need to go back to the distance and time of stay he is comfortable with.
- Note: Do not show him the treat else he will move forward.
- Tip: Vary your pattern- sometimes leave him and return to him without rewarding.
For more hand signals, here is a great dog training hand signals video.
These are the basic hand signals to teach your pet. You can also go ahead and teach fetch, play dead, shake etc which are traditional favorites. Always keep training sessions short and sweet but be consistent and patient in order to see results.