Communication Breakdowns Between Humans and Their Pups

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Communication Breakdowns Between Humans and Their Pups

In order to properly communicate with their humans, whether it’s for food, a walk, or a belly rub, dogs use a combination of vocalizations, eye movement, posture and body language, and hand gestures.

If we were able to speak and have our pets understand what we say, dogs could probably dismantle a nuclear bomb. Since, however, most of us humans are not rocket scientists, relying on a dog to do such seems a bit silly.

Sticking to the basics, one of the most recognizable prompts for dogs is the use of hand gestures  – so why is it that humans use them above most commands?

Here are  some reasons why hand gestures work so well:

  • Doggie see, doggie do –  if your pooch is easily excited, chances are they won’t hear a word you’re saying. Seeing the command warrants a response more often than not, because verbal commands are sometimes ignored, for one reason or another.
  • While dogs have a higher range of pitch than humans, sometimes they cannot hear what their human asks of them when presented with a command from a distance. Physically seeing a gesture produces a better result.
  • By using both your hands and verbal instructions, reinforcing behaviors will help your dog respond to your command more easily.
  • As opposed to just yelling, keeping your pooch focused on a hand motion prevents distraction and promotes ease in training.
  • Sometimes, the dog has a natural hearing impairment, so stop screaming your lungs off and recognize the issue before your face turns purple. Actions always speak louder than words.

As a new owner, you may find yourself a bit stumped: how do I make these motions? What’s important to remember? Which commands adhere to what gestures? Never fear; these basic hand signals can help you on your way to becoming a great dog trainer – and having a well-trained pooch. Of course, a doggie treat never hurt anyone either.


  • Hold your hand out towards your pup as if telling it to stop in its tracks. Your palm should face their nose and point those fingertips upwards.


  • Lower your hand or pointer finger towards the ground.  Try exaggerating your gesture by holding your hand a bit higher than normal.


  • Hold your left arm straight out, so that it is parallel to the floor. Remember, go slow: move your arm in front of your body and touch your right shoulder with your left hand. The slower you go, the more easily they learn – you have to walk before you can run.


  • Hold your arm at your side, fingertips pointing down. Raise your arm so that your hand moves in front of your pup’s face and over their head

Having a treat handy always helps with coaxing your pet and complying with your commands. Much like their humans, incentives help keep your pet focused, motivated, and happy with their owners.

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