Shaking hands, giving a paw or ‘how to do you do’ – whatever you call it, it’s fun to train our dogs to complete this simple and common trick. After all, wouldn’t everyone want to ensure our pups have the best doggy manners? A dog who is trained to give a paw or shake hands with visitors is always a welcome guest. This is also a good way of asking your dog to work for their treats, dinner and games by obeying a simple command and giving you their paw first.
If you’re looking to train your dog to paw, we have all of the tips you need. Read on and find out how to get your dog to give a strong paw-shake on cue.
Pro-tip: before your dog can master this command, they need to have mastered a how to sit. Need to brush up on their sitting command? Check our guide for how to train your dog to sit.
How to train your dog to paw
- Ask your dog to sit
- Hold a hidden treat in your hand in front of your dog’s face, slightly to one side. This helps them to learn and takes the weight off of the paw they’re going to lift (and is how you’ll teach them to swap paws later on).
- Encourage your dog to try and get the treat. Enthuse them with cues such as “what is it?” and let them investigate where the tasty smell is coming from.
- Most dogs will try to open your hand with their paw. As their paw touches your hand, open your palm and release the treat.
- Try this on both sides of your dog’s face by moving where you place your hand. Be sure to release the treat as soon as your dog touches your hand with their paw.
- Repeat this several times on each side, praising as you go. If your dog gets bored or can’t do it, don’t worry. Simply relax for a while and try again later on or on a different day. Shaking hands is hard work!
- Once your dog is offering their paw easily, you can add a command. Many people use “paw”, “shake” or some prefer “how do you do” for the posh-pup.
- When your dog is consistently offering their paw, hold out an empty hand with your palm facing upwards and give the command.
- As your dog touches your empty hand with their paw, treat them from your other hand. Repeat this on both sides, several times. You can also add a second command such as “other paw” when you alternate between sides.
- Once your dog has mastered the art of the paw shake, keep practicing. Ask guests and family members to practice with your pup too, until they’re the politest hound in town.