Hand Signals for Training a Puppy to Speak & to Sit

Using hand signals is another way of communicating with your pup.
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Believe it or not, you don't need words to get Scooby to sit or speak. A simple hand signal can do the trick. Dogs are naturally more inclined to respond to hand signals than verbal cues. The key ingredients to successfully make your puppy understand your hand signals are a healthy dose of patience and lots of yummy treats. Your patience will help you deal with the times that Scooby messes up, and the treats add extra incentive and motivate your furry pal to repeat the rewarded behavior.

About Hand Signals

Teaching your puppy hand signals will come in handy when you're talking on the phone, when you're in a noisy area or if you're at a distance from your puppy and don't want to raise your voice. Although many obedience classes teach standard hand signals to command your pup, you can develop your own signals as long as they're clear and don't resemble each other. Always use the same hand signals to avoid confusion.

The Basics

Start the training in a quiet room of the house so there aren't any distractions and your pet companion can fully focus on you. Because your puppy's attention span is short, you're best off doing two training sessions per day of only five or 10 minutes each. Initially, come down on your knees in front of your puppy when you train him, because hovering over him can trigger aggression or fear. Once Scooby understands the hand signals, move the training to a busier area with more distractions.


Teaching Scooby to speak by giving a hand signal is the beginning phase of teaching him to be quiet. Say "speak" and ring a bell to motivate your puppy to bark. When he does, praise him and give him a treat. Consistently do this until he barks on command. Then add a hand signal. Make a beak with your hand and move your fingers up and down to resemble a talking motion. Order Scooby to speak and show him the hand signal. Once he pays attention to the hand signal and consistently responds to it, gradually start reducing the use of the verbal command and ultimately stop using it.


To get Scooby to sit on command, hold a treat above his nose and move it back over his head while you say "sit." His nose will follow the treat and the movement will make him sit down. When he does, say "good sit" and give him the treat. Once he sits on command, add a hand signal, such as bending your elbow and raising your forearm 45 degrees with your palm facing up. Once Scooby consistently does the indicated action while paying attention to your hand signal, slowly fade away the verbal command.