Tennis Ball Hand Signals

Dogs instinctively understand human hand signals better than just about any other animal species. This can useful when your dog is chasing a tennis ball.

It’s not unusual for your dog to anticipate your throw and start heading off in the expected direction before you have a chance to toss it. If you are a few seconds late your dog might turn and look back in your direction, missing the ball sailing over its head. Or, maybe you decided to throw it in a different direction. Regardless, your dog must begin a search. There are commands you can use to encourage your dog. You can even provide directional clues. Those things are covered in my book The Heart of Your Dog.

When your dog learns the commands and understands your helpful instructions, there is one additional signal that your dog will instantly understand if you offer it. Your dog might be suspicious that you never tossed the ball in the first place. All you need to do is to show your empty hands. The meaning will register immediately with your dog and it will realize that it needs to get going with the search. If your dog doesn’t find the ball right away, it will probably look back at you to make sure you haven’t recovered the it somehow. Flash the empty hand signal again and your dog will be prompted to continue the search. Practiced enough it will come to mean go search as much as I don’t have the ball.

Once learned you can apply it to any find it situation.