Teach your dog to Shake Hands

This is a great trick to teach your canine companion; what better way for him to greet a new human friend than with the shake of a paw? Shaking hands is a relatively easy trick to train, but as with everything else it may take a little patience. There are a few ways to train the behavior.

Method One

If your pup likes to use his paws to get to things, this method may work the best for you:

Step One: Place a treat in your palm and pin it down with your thumb. Allow your dog to investigate.

Step Two: Your dog may sniff, but just ignore this. As soon as he paws at your hand, mark the behavior with a click or a word such as “Yes” or “Good,” then give a treat with your other hand. This is important!

Step Three: Repeat step two until he is automatically pawing at your hand every time you offer it.

Step Four: Now try offering your hand in the same position, minus the treat; if he paws, great! And remember, keep giving your dog his treat with your other hand. If he doesn’t paw at your hand this time, go back to step two until the behavior is a little stronger.

Step Five: Once your pup is pawing at your hand without the treat, try moving to an open, flat hand. If he paws, mark it and treat as always! He’s getting the hang of it now.

Step Six: When he’s comfortable with this, you can add a verbal cue such as “Shake!” to the behavior by saying your cue then offering your hand.

Step Seven: Reduce the treats he gets gradually, until he’ll shake your hand on cue with no reward.

Don’t forget to treat once in a while to keep the behavior strong!

Method Two

Another way to teach this behavior is by physically taking the dog’s paw into your hand.

Step One: Say your cue (such as “Shake!”), gently lift your dog’s paw with your hand and immediately mark this with a click or a word such as “Yes” or “Good”, and give her a treat.

Step Two: Repeat step one; this can take a different amount of time depending on your pup, but expect to do a few sessions of just step one.

Step Three: Eventually, your dog will respond to your cue word by raising her paw without your hand!

These two methods should help you on your way to teaching your pooch this classic trick. Enjoy!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Bob B. Brown