Hand Commands For Communicating With Deaf Animals. ASL = American Sign Language.




Hold open hand vertically in front of you and pull toward your chest; or both index fingers point forward and moved back to point at self (ASL).


Hand flat, palm facing the dog at an angle, move forward a few inches; or hand held facing down with thumb and little finger out, move down and forward (ASL).


Starting with arm at your side, move your open hand toward your chest, palm up; or place the index and middle fingers of the right hand over the same fingers of the left hand, then move them downward (ASL).


Tap your leg on the side of the body you want the dog to come to.


Left hand flat upward, chop with open right hand (ASL)


Motion toward the floor with your open hand palm down; or point the right index finger down and move it down slightly (ASL).

Lie down

Right hand palm down, move toward floor (similar to Stay).


Point index finger at intended direction, move forward a few inches.


Bring the thumb, index, and middle fingers together (ASL); may be preceded by shaking a pointing finger at the dog.


Fist with the thumb point upward; or the okay sign with thumb and index finger forming a circle with the remaining three fingers pointing upward.

Good dog

Left hand flat and facing up at waist level, fingers of right hand flat over the lips, then move them down into the left hand; or with the right hand closed move the thumb along the jaw line from ear to chin; or thumbs up (ASL).

Bad dog

Hand facing outward, bend the fingers over like a claw (ASL).


Index finger over pursed lips.

Look at me

Raise the open right hand and position it to the side of the eye.


Open palms facing outward, thumbs together, separate hands.


Index and middle fingers pointing downward; move as if fingers are walking.


Roll both hands around each other in front of body.


Both hands moving an imaginary steering wheel (ASL).


Open clenched fist facing downward.


Index and middle fingers pointed upward, wiggle.


Left and right fingers and thumb curved to meet in the shape of a ball (ASL).

From: Strain GM. 2011. Living with a deaf dog or cat. In: Strain GM, Deafness in Dogs and Cats, CABI, Oxfordshire, UK, pp 117-124.

Dr. George M. Strain
Louisiana State University
Comparative Biomedical Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803
Phone: 225-578-9758
Fax: 225-578-9895
E-mail: strain@lsu.edu

January 28, 2015

Return to Deafness in Dogs & Cats