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Want to teach your dog to shake hands? Luckily, this trick is easy for dogs to learn and will make friends and family smile. There are two methods you can use to train this trick.

Method 1: Wait him out

  1. Hold out your empty hand, palm up, at a height close to your dog’s knee level.
  2. Wait. Your dog will probably sniff your hand or lick it. Eventually, he will try other tactics, such as pawing at your hand.
  3. The moment your dog lifts his paw, tell him “good!” (even if he hasn’t made contact with your hand) and reward him with a yummy treat.
  4. Repeat this waiting game until your dog is lifting his paw into your hand. Keep rewarding him and start adding in a verbal cue. Say “shake” as you present your hand, and soon your dog will be shaking paws with you.

Method 2: Tap tap tap

  1. Use your pointer finger to lightly tap the back of your dog’s paw, just under his dewclaw (the extra nail on the upper, inner part of a dog’s foot).
  2. Your dog may immediately pick up his foot to move away from the gentle pressure, or it may take a few moments of repeated light tapping before he picks up his foot. As soon as he starts to bend it and move away from your finger, gently sweep your hand forward and pick up his paw.
  3. Verbally praise and reward your dog with a treat.
  4. Repeat this until your dog starts to lift his foot as soon as you reach toward it. Add in the verbal cue “shake” while you reach.

Remember, dogs don’t generalize well. Just because they know how to shake with their right paw doesn’t mean they’ll know how to shake with their left one. If you want your canine companion to be able to shake with both paws, complete the steps in either of the methods above with each foot. You can also use different commands, like “paw” and “shake,” to differentiate between your dog’s right and left foot.

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