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Dog Sign Language: How To Communicate With A Deaf Dog?

Dog Sign Language: How To Communicate With A Deaf Dog?
Dog Sign Language:

Training is one of the cornerstones of a well-rounded, well-behaved dog. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to properly train your dog and to start that training from an early age. Generally, training a dog is a challenging task and it requires patience, consistency, and determination. However, some dogs are easier to train than others, while some dogs can suffer from conditions that can make this process even more challenging. Training a deaf dog can be particularly challenging due to the obvious disability to hear and follow verbal commands. These dogs are trained using a combination of American Sign Language (ASL) and hand signals for certain commands. We can say that the combination of these two elements represents dog sign language or a language we use to communicate with deaf dogs.

What Is American Sign Language?

American Sign Language is a natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages, but the grammar differs from English.

Teaching Your Dog A Sign Language

Getting Attention

Well, the first thing you need to do when training a dog is to get his attention. However, this can be particularly difficult to achieve with deaf dogs. You can’t call their names or shout to get their attention, simply because they can’t hear you.

However, there are several methods you can try to get your dog’s attention.

Vibrating Collar

It’s easy to confuse vibrating collars with electronic shock collars. However, a vibrating collar doesn’t give a shock or cause pain to the dog, it simply vibrates when you push the button on a remote.

You simply press the button and hold it until the dog looks at you. As soon as the dog looks at you, release the button to stop the vibration and offer the dog a treat.

Vibrating collars are the most convenient and efficient way to get the deaf dog’s attention.


You can also use a flashlight to get your dog’s attention. Simply turn the flashlight on and off until your dog turns to see what is going on. As soon as your dog looks at you offer a treat. By doing this, the dog will quickly learn to associate a flash of light with the need to look at you.

Dog Sign Language

As we have already said the dog sign language is basically a combination of ASL and hand cues, gestures, and signals that substitute words for certain commands.

Hand Signals

It is of utmost importance to teach your dog at least basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, leave it, lie down, look at me, etc. You can either use standard hand signals for each command or you can create your hand signals that suit your needs the best. The photo below shows examples of hand signals you can teach your dog.

Dog Sign Language
Photo credit: Pinterest

You can see a great example of teaching your dog some of the above-mentioned commands.

American Sign Language

ASL is great if you want to communicate with your dog beyond the basic commands. Learning a few signs of ASL and teaching your dog what they mean is a great way to bond even more with your deaf dog. You can also invent your sign for a certain word and teach your dog what it means. Below you can see the ASL alphabet.

Dog Sign Language
Photo credit: Pinterest


Rewarding good behavior is crucial in any dog training. Deaf dogs are no exception. Since you can’t verbally praise your dog, treats are even more important for promoting wanted behavior and positive reinforcement.