10 Deaf Dog Hand Signals That Your Pet Needs to Learn

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Do you know the different deaf dog hand signals? Imagine having a deaf dog or a deaf puppy that doesn’t respond to any outside noise, yet can respond to affection and play with you the same way as any house dog.


A lot of dog owners find that the best part of having a dog is when you start to explore different things together. You are definitely a dog person if you can’t imagine yourself living in a home without its presence. 

A dog’s love is the greatest and they give the most unconditional kind of love you can ever receive, but this topic becomes controversial when it comes to caring for a deaf dog and training it. Some people think it demands effort and endless patience to train them. 


Most dogs with special needs have a special place in our hearts but most of us are not familiar with how to train them, or how to teach them correct behavior.

Keep in mind that training a deaf dog requires a different variation of training sessions to keep the dog’s attention on you. You might also need to apply different techniques like clicker training in comparison to the usual approach when training hearing dogs.

You also might have heard from other deaf dog owners mostly negative things about training a deaf dog like bad behavior, or getting bit, but some people forget to mention that a deaf dogs senses are heightened compared to other dogs. 

You can use these heightened abilities to train them and use it to your advantage. With the perfect amount of compassion, training treats, and persistent passion, you’ll be amazed by how bright these dogs can be and how quickly they learn.  


Hand signals are the most effective tool to teach your deaf dog since they communicate visually. Before we go there let us give you some of the perks why most people choose to care for a dog with special needs. In this article, we will be sharing basic hand signals/sign language that can help you navigate your way to an obedient and clever deaf dog. 

If you are currently looking for a pet, you might consider adopting a deaf dog at the end of this article. 

Benefits of Owning a Deaf Dog

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The fact that you are reading this article means that you have uncertainties about deaf dogs. It’s not surprising that you might have heard that they can be aggressive. If we look very closely, aggression can also be an attribute of a normal dog.


Much like any other pet if they are threatened, just like any other dog with past trauma and dogs who had previous owners that decided to neglect them.

In reality, they are just normal dogs that can’t hear. They can give you the same love and affection similarly to any other pets. Losing their sense of hearing is not a hindrance to include as part of the family. 


If we try to find a place in our hearts and get to know them, they can be skilled and disciplined with the right training sessions. If this sounds exciting to you, here are the benefits that might help you at some point in the future:

  • Noises inside your house or anywhere else does not become a cause for distraction to them
  • Yes! They are trainable
  • They pick on the vibrations from their surroundings that lead to great focus and attentiveness
  • They are visual dogs so if you each them basic commands, like reading body language, they wouldn’t miss a thing
  • You will learn to communicate in a different way and how to teach hand signals. 
  • They are as loving as any hearing dog.
  • It will teach you to become more empathetic.
  • You will be amazed how responsive they can be. 
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Since they can’t hear, to avoid aggression don’t think about sneaking up on a deaf dog and startling them unless they completely trust you. They can see it as a threat and scare them and that can lead to an angry dog that possibly bites you. A deaf dog’s nose is also very sensitive, and can smell a threat from afar through body language.

We also want to make sure that we teach our deaf dog the correct behavior and make sure they are on a leash most times within a fenced yard especially if you are in the training phase unless you are fully aware that it’s safe for them to run around.

It is important that we observe the surroundings before we can trust them to run freely. 

What Causes Hearing Loss in Dogs?

Deafness is referred to as a partial or a complete loss of hearing in both ears. In some cases the hearing loss can be permanent or maybe temporary. Just like for humans, dogs can get it too. Sometimes, this is caused by too much build up of wax in both ear canals.

Hearing loss in dogs can also be caused by tumors, congenital or birth defects, old age, injuries and ear infections as well. Although some dogs may experience hearing loss up to some extent, deafness does not mean that they cannot live normally anymore.

Some breeds like – English setters, Jack Russel Terriers, and Dalmatians are prone to getting congenital deafness. Early onset deafness is also prominent in predisposed breeds.

If you suspect that your dog is having trouble responding to you and you see that they are bit slow, its important to look out for the symptoms.

Dog Hearing Loss Symptoms

A dog that has trouble hearing will show some of these symptoms:

  • will become less active
  • will shake or tilt its head
  • will bark too much
  • show a change in attentiveness or obedience
  • fail to respond to your commands especially verbal ones
  • be difficult to wake up when sleeping
  • will appear unresponsive when being called
  • will appear unresponsive to the doorbell, vacuums, and other everyday sounds

How Will I Know for Sure If My Dog is Deaf?


If your dog is starting to show symptoms, the first thing to do is bring your dog to the vet so that they can get their ears examined. After this is done, your dog will also be checked for any abnormalities in their ear canals including debris or wax, inflammation, or any injuries.

Your vet may also perform some hearing tests to test how responsive your dog is to sound. you can also use this method at home even without bringing your dog to the vet. But if you see that your dog is already unresponsive, its important to bring your dog immediately to the vet just to be sure.

Hand Signal Commands for your Deaf Dog

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It probably makes you wonder, and find yourself with questions like how do I start training my deaf dog if they can’t hear their name? If I can’t talk to them? How would they know if they are being a good dog? or more importantly how to get their attention?


Although some trainers use clickers to get a dog’s attention, it’s not as effective as using hand signals. 

Some trainers prefer to use flashlights or an open flash in their training session to teach them. If they aren’t far from you, a gentle touch would work too. You can also purchase a vibrating collar to curb bite inhibition, but please don’t use a shock collar on your dogs even as puppies so that your dog learns to associate the vibrating collar with “good dog” or “food treats”.


Laser light can also be an alternative when training a deaf dog to catch their attention, just be careful not to point it directly in their eyes or the dog’s nose. You may want to consider stomping the floor, once they feel the vibration as a sign to enforce the come command, and for sure they will definitely look at where it’s coming from.

Believe it or not dogs are highly sensitive when it comes to determining their owners energy. They can feel if you’re pleased with them for being a good dog or when you’re upset at them for bad behavior.


Which means there’s no need to punish them to make a point. A gentle but firm approach is more than enough to build a relationship with trust and respect. As a precaution, if you want to use any kind of training collars when training a deaf dog, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian immediately for more tips when teaching.

10 Hand Signal Commands for your Deaf Dogs

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Communication can be tricky if you’re training a deaf dog hand signals and american sign language, it sounds almost impossible to teach. But that’s only because we haven’t explored different hand sign techniques and see which works best.


The most effective way to communicate with them is by using hand signals. Hand signals are a great way of training a deaf dog. This also helps your dog exercise their head and help you and your dog interact with each other.

These are the basic deaf dog hand signals that can be useful and convenient for you. It will make everything smoother for you and your other family members and the best part is it will enhance the relationship, behavior, and bond between you and your dog:

  1. Open hand down- this ASL sign can be used to command them to sit. as they watch you give them signs, you can reward them with treats for good dog behavior
  2. Rubbing your belly- This is a good way of teaching your dog that it’s time to eat.  Once your dog picks up on the ASL sign, reward them with treats and a pat on the head
  3. Finger pointing – Humans also use this American sign language. if you want your dog to go somewhere or fetch something from a distance, this is a good sign to teach. reward your dog with training treats if he gets it right.
  4. Thumbs up- Just like what it means for everyone. It’s a sign that your dog did a good job or to let them know you agree. 
  5. Okay sign- It can also be used to acknowledge that they are doing a great job. 
  6. Hand flat out – this is another kind of sign language your dog can learn to stop whatever they are doing or freeze. If they get the exercise right, give them a treat.
  7. Time out symbol- is another good hand language your dog can be trained in to signal, teaching your dog to leave something alone, drop something or be quiet. 
  8. Hand out- is a sign language gesture to let your dog know that you want to shake their paw or give them a high five. if they get the gesture right, give him a treat.
  9. Two fingers pointed at eyes- It’s a way for them to know that you’re watching them. Make sure to give them eye contact as well. 
  10.  Hand in your chest – This hand signal is a way of saying I love you to your dog. 
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They can easily understand these hand signals since they are distinctive and lenient. Deaf dogs are visual learners, which means you have to emphasize your gestures a bit to help them recall your instructions. If trained properly, it won’t be hard to watch them at home.

Given that they are visual-spatial learners, body language can be used to your advantage. Furthermore, it will be helpful if you pay attention to body posture, foot position and eye contact. They are also sensitive to vibration from their surroundings that can be an effective tool when teaching them. 


Some people purchase books like an ASL dictionary of hand signals for deaf people and use that to teach their dogs. What’s important is you are consistent and your chosen hand signals are diverse from each other.

Every time your dog is attending to your orders don’t forget to reward them for being compliant with a treat. Even though they can’t hear you, they will always appreciate a treat.

Why Positive Reinforcement Works Better Than Negative Reinforcement 

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It is important to be watch and be aware of the effect of each reinforcement, we should also think how your teaching technique affects your dog. There’s a possibility of creating negative outcome in the future if teaching done wrong. 

Regardless if you are training a hearing or non-hearing dog, negative reinforcement should be the least option to train your dog. The goal is not just teaching your dog but also enjoy the process.

If you decide to go for negative reinforcement, an increased risk of fear and aggression might be less effective than you expected. A scared dog will probably listen to you but it’s not going to help them to feel safe around you.

Focusing on dog treats as a reward influences the dog’s behavior but It also teaches them to love the training process and that they can earn good stuff if they stay obedient. Considering the impact of training on your dog is important. 

If we practice positive reinforcement It will become their habit to anticipate good energy rather than sensing negativity from their owner. They will actively look for ways to earn a reward.  

Your dog will look forward to training with you, and see every session as an activity that rewards them yummy treats. You will notice they will be interested and excited throughout the day. 

Common Mistakes When Training Deaf Dogs

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After deciding what’s the best approach to train our deaf dogs, it’s effective to be aware of the common mistakes some people had made in the past. It’s best to learn from it and it will guide you to be a better trainer. 

Some people are not mindful of their dog’s behavior. Additionally, this is one of the common mistakes they fail to recognize.

Every dog has different qualities. And the only way to find out is by spending time with them and getting to know them. Furthermore, some people don’t realize that it will help them to adjust their approach by doing this.   

Not recognizing the right timing and pushing too fast. Teaching dogs new tricks will take time until they fully absorb a new habit. Additionally, what is needed is consistency, love, a treat, and patience on our end. 

Not giving treats right away after following your command. Furthermore, If you give it too late it might be difficult for them to understand your intention. And it may give them mixed signals that may cause confusion. It’s best to reward them instantly if they listen to your command. 

Not setting a goal and teaching whatever you feel like teaching without knowing what exactly your intention is. This will cause confusion and it will be overwhelming for your dog. Additionally, it might have difficulties in learning new tricks. 

Help your Deaf Dog learn Basic Obedience and Basic Commands

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Whether you’re adopting or you already have a deaf dog. We hope that this article helps you discover what else is out there for you and for your dog. Furthermore, to effectively help them to adjust especially if they aren’t born deaf. 


Some people might lose hope if their dog had a terrible accident that made him lose his hearing ability. It is important as a pet owner that we show them love no matter what. Additionally, understanding them is the first step to improving your relationship with your dog

The only one who can encourage your pet is you. If you commit to training your deaf dog there’s a lot of possibilities. And I’m sure your dog will appreciate your support and the love you are giving. 


Deaf dogs are just like hearing dogs, there’s not much difference when it comes to teaching them. Additionally, The only difference is you change the technique. But they are just as smart as a hearing dog.

As an additional piece of information, the American kennel club makes use of signs and a treat. Additionally, if they get their dogs to sit or pick up on any kind of hand signs.

Let’s not limit the opportunity to help our dogs enjoy their life to the fullest, since hearing isn’t available for them. Furthermore, we can help them experience the world through their eyes. And make them feel that being deaf isn’t an excuse to give up on our dog. 


We all know that a dog’s life is shorter than ours. It would be nice to spend its life with the people who genuinely care. Furthermore, by motivating them to discover the world using their other senses. And that it won’t be limited even after losing their hearing ability. Additionally, Watch out for them as much as you can.

As mentioned, training a deaf dog hand signals will be a challenge, but it will feel rewarded knowing that you helped an animal learn even with their disability. Additionally, Like humans, going deaf does not mean that you are completely disabled. Furthermore, There are plenty of ways that you can live normally even with a hearing disability. 

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