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AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Milena Barreto has taught her Standard Poodle, Phoebe, dozens of tricks and they often entertain as a therapy dog team at assisted living centers and hospitals. Here, she tells us how to teach one of the crowd favorites.
What can be more rewarding than showing off that your dog is a four-legged Einstein? Impress your friends by teaching him to say “yes” and “no” with just hand signals.


dog saying yes


Teach Your Dog To Say “Yes”

  1. Sit your dog in front of you and place a very high-value treat (for example, a piece of cheese or hot dog) in your closed fist in front of your dog.
  2. Move your fist up and down in a very slow motion so he moves his head up and down watching the motion and then give him the treat. Repeat a few times.
  3. Next, practice without the treat in your fist and give him a treat from your other hand. He will learn that the fist is the signal for “yes.”
  4.  After more practice, move your fist close to your body, preferably near your hip. Ask your dog a “yes” question as you hold your fist close to you and move it up and down with very minimal motion. Make sure your dog is looking at the fist.
  5. And there you have it! Your dog is responding “yes” to any question you ask him! Don’t worry about people looking at your hand signal. Believe me; no one will be looking at you.


dog saying no


Teach Your Dog To Say “No”

Teaching your dog to say “no” is very similar to the “yes” trick. Use your fist but with your pointer finger up, like when you say no to a child or reprimand them. As with the “yes” signal, repeat the same process but instead of going up and down, go side to side in a very slow motion.

After more practice, move your fist and pointer finger close to your body, reduce the motion, and reward with the other hand.

I really had fun teaching Phoebe this trick, and it is a hit every time. I ask her a question and she answers me by nodding yes or no. One of the questions I always ask is “Are you smart?” and when she nods yes; I get big smiles and applause from everyone in the room.

I hope you have a tail-wagging time training this fun trick with your furry friend!

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