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How to Teach a Dog to Shake Hands!

Learning how to teach a dog to shake hands with you is a fun doggie trick that every owner and pooch loves to master!

It’s surprisingly easy, too, as dogs love interacting with their human owners. The dog and shake trick sees your pup raising their paw to shake hands with you - it’s cute, endearing, and it’s a way to show off your puppy training skills, too. 

There are so many cool tricks to teach your dog, and learning how to teach a dog to shake your hand is the best way to get started. Keep reading to find out more, then put our master teaching plan into action!

Why do dogs put their paw on you?

But why do dogs want to put their paw on you? Shaking hands isn’t just a fun trick, but it’s an excellent way to bond with your dog. Pet dogs actually enjoy putting their paws on you. You may have noticed this after they’ve used their bed ramp for dogs to get on the sofa next to you; they’ll paw away at you!

The pawing is a sign of affection. Because dogs grow up being petted and stroked by their human owners, they sort of assume that we enjoy the same thing back. For dogs, though, it’s more difficult to replicate the stroke, so they end up pawing.

Dogs love the shake it trick because it’s a way for them to get closer to you, their human owner, and to paw on your hand as much as they like. For that reason, this is one of the easiest ways to start teaching your dog tricks because they really want to paw your hand. 

Teach a dog to shake paws

If you’re going to start learning how to teach a dog to shake a paw, then you require a lot of treats to get you started - but it does create an excellent foundation from which to learn more complex tricks and commands. 

This is an excellent one to teach your dog when they are young, and with a little reinforcement and proofing every now and then, they’ll remember how to shake your hand for the rest of their life. 

Why not start the training process by watching this video, to get a good idea of what you’re going to be teaching and how? 

Right, let’s get down to business. Follow the following steps, and you’ll soon have learned how to train your dog to shake hands with you!

#1 Select your treats 

The first step in preparing for the training process is selecting the treats. To learn to teach a dog to shake its body and paws, you need lots and lots of their favorite treats.

Select small treats that you can hand out continuously: Bite-sized pieces of their favorite meat, for instance, or store-bought training treats (such as doggie chocolate buttons). These are small treats that encourage the trick rather than taking up all their time to eat. 

Remember, never give your dog chocolate, and always check that the food you’re feeding them is doggie friendly - just because humans love something doesn’t mean it’s safe for dogs. 

#2 Select a quiet, distraction-free training area 

It’s good to start the training process inside, in a quiet area of the home. This allows your dog to feel comfortable, as they are in familiar surroundings. More importantly, though, is the fact that you can control the environment. 

There can’t be any distractions, or else they just won’t learn. Before taking your dog outside to practice, make sure they’ve mastered the trick inside - at the local park, there are just far too many distractions! 

#3 Command your dog to sit 

Learning how to ‘dog sit’ is the first part of any puppy training, and we’ll assume that your pup is already able to do this.  

To learn how to shake your hand, they need to first be sitting down on their rear legs. Command them to do so, and then prepare for the next stage of the training process. 

#4 Place a treat in your hand and hold it out

Once your dog is sitting down, place a small treat in your hand and introduce them to the shake. They’ll smell the treat instantly and will be curious as to why it’s in your palm. 

Hold your hand out as if you were going to shake their paw. This is the movement they need to be familiar with. They’ll start sniffing, perhaps licking or nuzzling, and finally, they’ll place their paw on your hand to try and reach the treat. 

When they do this, it’s time to release the treat and reward them for placing their paw on your hand. 

#5 Repeat, and introduce verbal commands

Keep repeating this process until they become more familiar with what’s expected of them. They’ll quickly realize that if they want the treat, they have to raise their paw and place it on your hand - once they do this, you’ve essentially taught them to shake hands. 

However, you need to keep reinforcing it. Try to teach them at least once a day, and as they progress, introduce verbal commands. The ultimate goal is for them to shake hands without the need for the treat, so you need to gradually remove the treats. 

You can pick your command, but remember, this is the word that they will come to associate with the action for the rest of their life. Most owners use the word “shake” or “paw”. 

#6 Proof the trick  

You need to practice regularly to proof the trick. We suggest starting out with short, five-minute-long sessions at least three times a day. Teach your dog the trick regularly, and they’ll quickly pick it up. 

You can slowly cut the training sessions down until eventually they’ll be able to perform the trick on command. A great test of their progress is to ask a friend or family member to command your dog to perform the trick - if they do so unhesitantly, then you’ve been successful! 

Now you know how to teach a dog to shake hands with you!

It’s that simple. All you need are lots of treats and a little bit of patience. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your dog will pick this trick up, too, so why not get started with their training now? 

If you want to teach your dog how to shake hands, then why not bookmark our training guide? 

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