Teach Your Dog Hand Signals and Save Her Life

Nutmeg saved her old dog, Ezra’s life today. From all the way across the front yard and down across the street!

Ezra, Nutmeg’s beloved 12 year old boxer, got out the front door and wandered across the street, before Nutmeg had a chance to realize. With four kids and a busy house, it happens. But Nutmeg did see Ezra in time to watch the speeding car heading straight for her, as she was about to step into the street.

Nutmeg did what we all would have done in that instant. She screamed for her dog to stop. But that’s not what saved Ezra. Because, you see, Ezra is mostly deaf and couldn’t hear the scream. What saved her was that Nutmeg had also taught Ezra hand signals along with the verbal commands. Ezra saw Nutmeg’s hand signal to stay. And she did exactly that.

Having raised a deaf Aussie, I also had to find a way to communicate with her. Since I’d already learned a fair amount of sign language, it was no problem to create signals that cover all the kinds of conversations I’d want to have with her. I still use a lot of sign language with both my dogs today. It’s convenient for those times like now, when I have bronchial pneumonia and can’t talk without coughing. And it’s always convenient to use when my dogs are at a distance and they may not hear me.

Until I have the energy to do a full post, here are a couple of great links and a short video to get you started:

DDEAF Training Hand Signs

Hand Signals on Dog Obedience Training


Remember, there are the basic obedience hand signals for sit, down, stay, and heel. These are always used in the same way by everyone. And then there are deaf-dog sign language commands that may be varied, depending on who’s using them. Once you decide what the signal is going to be for the command, it’s important that you stick with that so you don’t wind up confusing your dog.

Not only are these hand signals super easy to teach — as Nutmeg found out, they can be life-saving to know.

12 thoughts on “Teach Your Dog Hand Signals and Save Her Life”

  1. I always tried to teach hand signals but the only one that ever caught on was “sit.” At least that worked! Our dogs are horribly spoiled so they don’t listen too well anyways! Thanks for this interesting post!

  2. I would never have thought about hand signals, though I’m glad Nutmeg did.

    So sorry to hear you’re not well, Karen. Hope you up and about soon.

  3. This is exactly why my handsignal for “Down” is my hand WAY up in the air like I was going to ask a question in class… you can see that FAR away as opposed to the “pointing to the floor” signal.

  4. Nutmeg, I was reading your post with one hand over my eyes. I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I was for you that it had a happy ending. Ezra is such a cool dog, I imagine she’ll figure out a way to stick around for several more years.

    Linda, my dogs understand my hands in three languages. My husband — maybe, almost… sometimes one. :)

  5. I’ve always taught hand signals right along with voice commands. Sometimes I have to send a dog over 1/2 a mile and they can just about always “see” my commands (big motions work best). If only I could teach the man now:)

  6. This is so cool. This only confirms my belief that the opportunity and ability to communicate is almost always there somewhere.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top