Training a dog to shake hands (paws) is one of the coolest and simplest tricks you can teach your pet. It is also one of the first tricks any dog should learn. You can teach this trick very easily and most dogs learn to shake within a matter of a few hours. Naturally, you must always keep training sessions short, especially when you are training a puppy. Also, you must keep the training positive and reward-based. Never scold, shout at, or hit your dog. Be patient and consistent and the results will follow.
Let us study how to train a dog to shake.
The trick to teaching a dog any trick is sequencing. Sequencing means breaking down what you want to teach your dog into components small enough for your dog to understand. Once your dog masters the smaller components, you can lead up to the final product. For example, when teaching your dog to shake, he needs to first sit and understand that shake means giving you one of his paws. So the sequence here is:
- Your dog sits
- You take his paw in your hand
- You give him the verbal command you want to use (shake, paw, etc)
- Praise and reward him when he obeys.
Clicker training is a great way to get your dog to behave the way you want him to. With clicker training, your dog learns to associate the clicking sound with a treat. Once he associates the clicking sound with treat and reward, he also learns to do what you want him to do.
- To start with clicker training: click and give your dog a treat.
- Do this several times.
- You need to click and treat at least 15-20 times in a single session in order to get your dog to associate the clicking sound with a treat.
- Since you will be feeding your dog several treats, you may want to invest in healthy treats. Keep the treats bite-sized so that Fido doesn’t fill up on them.
- Keep clicking and treating.
Now let us move on to the steps of training a dog to shake:
Steps to get your dog to learn to shake
We are assuming that your dog knows the ‘sit’ command already for this to work. It helps if you sit down on the floor too when training your dog to shake. Now, click and simultaneously lift his paw. (Some puppies might bite your hand since most dogs are sensitive about their paws and do not like them being touched). But it is important that your dog understands that he is meant to lift his paw for this trick.
- Click, and gently get your dog to life his paw.
- Click, again gently lift his paw, treat.
- Repeat this several times until your dog starts to realize that he is supposed to lift his paw.
- Once he actually gives his paw in your open hand, give the verbal command and reward and praise him very enthusiastically. This is his cue that ‘that’s what he is supposed to do!’
- Repeat the click-verbal command-paw-reward action multiple times.
Most dogs learn to shake in a day or two. Keep practicing this trick with your dog. Eventually, you must also teach your dog to shake without treats and just the verbal command and clicker if needed. You eventually have to also stop using the clicker so that your dog can shake even without the sound or treat and just the command alone. Keep praising your dog every time he obeys.
This trick is an extension of the ‘shake’ trick. It follows the same steps as teaching him to shake except that you want him to shake with the other paw. When training, repeat the steps above but point to his other paw and use another command like ‘the other one’. Fido will soon figure out the difference because he won’t get a treat unless he gives you the other paw. Impress your friends and relatives with how clever your dog is when he does this trick!
Gimme Five: Training your dog to high five
If the SIT command is second nature to your dog, you can teach him to shake and give high five as well. Here are the steps to teach a dog to high five:
- Ask your dog to sit.
- Sit down up to his level.
- Use the clicker, treat, and pick up one of his forelegs, lift from underneath, and release.
- Praise him as soon as he drops his leg, give the verbal command (High Five!)click, and treat.
- Repeat the above steps at least 5-7 times in a single training session.
- Continue this training over the next 2-3 days.
- After he is raising his leg, gently move it up and down before releasing it.
- The big breakthrough will be when your dog will raise his leg as soon as you give the verbal command. When he does, show him how happy you are!
Gradually wean him off treats
The end result of every training process should be that your dog learns to obey the command without the clicking sound and especially without treats. Simply praise your dog every time he obeys. And, even when he obeys for praise, reward/treat him occasionally as a surprise. After he has this trick down, you can have him practice with family and friends. (Not more than 5 times in a single session!)
Shaking Hi and Bye
After your dog learns to shake and hi-five, he can also progress to learning to wave ‘hi’ or ‘goodbye’. All you need to do is get him to lift the paw touch your hand. You then pull your hand away, use a verbal command, which will cause your pet to wave his paw in the air in an effort to touch your hand. Repeat several times with treat, praise, clicks, and rewards.
Some of the most basic tricks to teach your dog are the shake and high five commands. Most dogs learn these tricks quickly. Always use a positive, friendly, and cheerful tone while training. Never shout or hit your dog; this will not show desired results and could make your dog shy or aggressive. Use healthy treats while training. You can also watch several ‘how to teach a dog to shake’ YouTube videos or read books like Dog Training for Dummies. Remember: you must eventually get around to teaching your dog to shake without treats.