How To Teach A Dog To Shake Paws And Other Simple Dog Tricks

how to teach a dog to shake

How to teach a dog to shake paws, is a search term and question I get often from new dog owners.  The fact is this trick is very basic to teach and easy for your dog to learn.  Teaching a dog to shake paws is a great foundational training technique from which to build upon as well.  All dogs have different aptitudes when it comes to learning new things.  Some might pick it up instinctively while others have to train up a little bit.  Not too worry!  I’m going to go over how to teach a dog to shake paws as well as a few other basic tricks to help train your pup up.

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The Dog Shake Trick Explained

This trick is one of the most basic in the book.  It’s also fun to learn with your dog and is always amusing to show off with friends and family.  Every dog will do it a bit differently too.  I had one dog who used to treat shake like a high five hand clap.  Most of my other dogs would just pick up their paw and place it in my hand.  Either is ok and shows that you and your dog have developed a bond with one another.

This trick is also one of the foundational basics that can be used to build your dog’s training and obedience muscle.  Starting with a few basic tricks like dog shake and sit are a great way to progress to tricks that are a bit more involved as well. But where do we start?

How to Get Your Dog To Shake Paws

I would suggest setting up the proper environment to train your dog first.  Ideally, you want to pick a space with no distractions and no other people or animals.  You want your dog to be focused on you and what you are trying to teach them.  Also bring some tasty treats and be ready to shower the dog with positive praise as they complete each step in the process.

  1.  Place you hand out in front of you in between you and the dog.
  2. At first your dog may sniff it, lick it or try to bat it away.  This is normal. Your dog is trying to determine what you want them to do.  Patience is key here.  Continue holding your hand out until they either paw your hand or place their paw in your hand.  Once this is done, shower them with praise and reward them with a treat.
  3. Rinse and repeat for longer and longer duration’s of time.  I would suggest waiting several seconds after the dog has placed their paw on your hand to provide them with praise and treats.  Eventually, they should be able to keep it there for quite a while with no issues.
  4. I’ts important to make the dog understand that they are getting the treat because they are placing their paw in your hand and keeping it there.  You do not want them to think they are being rewarded for just smacking your hand.
  5. Once you have completed the basic process of the technique you can begin to add a verbal cue.  I use the word “paw”.  You can say whatever you like.  They goal is to associate the word you are using with the trick you have just taught your dog.
  6. Doing this isn’t too difficult.  When you put your hand out in the shake gesture for your dog.  Quickly say the command word as they are coming to place their paw in your hand.  Follow up with more praise and treats.
  7. Once you have associated the cue and the trick, your dog should be able to complete it without the physical prompt from you first.  In other words, you can just say paw and hold your hand out.
  8. Now that you have them reliably placing their paw in your hand, add in a slow up and down shaking motion.  They may try to pull away first.  Just be gentle and continue adding the slow up and down motion.  They will get used to it over time.
  9. Congrats!  Your dog can now shake paws!

How Long Will It Take To Teach My Dog To Shake Paws?

As I mentioned earlier, this will vary from dog to dog.  I’ve had dogs that were able to pickup this trick and others with relative ease after a few days.  A safe estimate would be a week or so of training for them to grasp the concept and become familiar with the trick.  They key once they have learned the trick is to have them preform it from time to time.  This will not only keep them sharp and alert, it will make sure they don’t get rusty and forget the trick as well.  Dogs are creatures of habit and repetition.  Once we understand this fundamental fact, it becomes much easier to train them.

Can I Teach My Dog To Shake With Both Paws?

Absolutely!  Once again how they pick this up will depend on the dog.  A hack I like to use is to place my hand out in front of the paw I want my dog to shake with.  Then hopefully their natural response just takes over.  If it doesn’t, that’s no problem.  Just go over the steps above again while putting the praise and emphasis on the paw they give you the least.  Or work each paw a few times individually.  A little improvisation might be needed on your part.

If you can get your dog to shake with both paws then there is a whole bunch of other tricks you can teach them with ease.  The more of these tricks your dog learns, the more they will want to learn in the future.  This kind of mental stimulation will tire a dog out more than an entire day spent outside chasing rabbits.  Be sure to give them plenty of breaks, praise and treats.  This is a winning formula when it comes to teaching your dog new tricks.

What Other Basic Tricks Can I Teach My Dog?

Sit, stay, paw and lay down are what I consider to be the pillars of basic dog tricks.  You can expand out from these 4 tricks to several dozen if you and your dog have the aptitude and patience for it.  I find that these 4 tricks can be a great way for you to work with you dog as they grow into adult hood and take their place as a member of the family.

How To Teach A Dog To Sit

This is the cornerstone of any dog training method.  All other tricks or behaviors start with this foundational trick.  Once this is learned, each successive trick should get easier as your dog learns your training method.  There are several different ways to teach your dog to sit.  I’m going to go over the one I get the quickest results with on most dogs.

  1. Find a quiet area where you and your dog can be undisturbed
  2. Bring a treat out and place it in your hand.
  3. Get in front of your dog and move the treat to nose level.
  4. Slowly bring the treat up to a few inches above your dogs head.
  5. As you do this, the dog’s natural reaction should be to follow the treat and to sit back on its hind legs to get a better angle on the tasty snack.
  6. Once it’s butt hits the floor, give them the treat.
  7. Repeat this process a few more times with a treat in hand rewarding them with praise and the treat every time they sit.
  8. Now its time to remove the treat and just use the same hand gesture to get them to sit
  9. If this becomes hard for them to do just add the treat back in a few more times and remove after.  Eventually they will understand the process.
  10. Now that they understand the hand gesture, start giving the verbal cue of “sit” just before you move your hand to the position.  Positive reinforcement is key.
  11. Continue doing this while mixing a treat in here or there for a few days.
  12. Congratulations, you’ve just taught your dog to sit!

One important thing to mention is to never force your dog into a sitting position.  This is counter productive.  When you try to force them down, they will naturally resist and this will cause a learned behavior of resistance to your sitting training.  Stay patient and keep working with your dog.  It’s ok if they don’t get it on the first day.  Habit and repetition will get you the win in the end.

Dog sitting

How To Teach A Dog To Stay

Another of our foundational basics for our furry friends.  Teaching a dog to stay is a great way to get them to understand obedience and a good way to keep them safe.  A dog that can be told to stay still even when there is other commotion going on around it is a sight to behold!  A great trick to keep your dog from running out into a dangerous street or intersection chasing a ball as well.  This trick builds on the sit command we just established with our pet.

Stay teaches an important concept of stop and release.  The objective here is to teach your dog a release word first and then the stay command so they grasp the concept better.

Teaching Your Dog To Release

This command is setup to release your dog from one of their other command positions (IE sitting, stay or lay down).  Take the following steps to teach your dog the release command.

  1.  Pick a word (IE Come, OK, Here, etc) to use as your release command
  2. Grab some treats and guide your dog to a sitting position.
  3. Take a step or two back and drop a treat at your feet while saying your release command word
  4. Your dog should come to your feet and grab the treat.
  5. Reset and repeat these steps several times increasing the distance from your dog by a step or so each time.
  6. Once they have gotten familiar with this, start saying the command word and dropping the treat only after they move towards you.
  7. Your dog now understands the release concept!

The reason you teach the dog to release and come to your feet is because that should hopefully be a safe area compared to where they were going.  Once they understand this command you can teach them to stay as well.

Teaching Your Dog To Stay

Now that we have the release command learned, Use the following steps to teach your dog to stay.

  1. Guide your dog to a sit and crouch in front of them.
  2. As they are sitting still, give them a treat and give the “Stay” command.
  3. If they continue sitting still give them another treat and start to back away a bit.
  4. Now give them the release command and repeat the first few steps.
  5. Vary the duration and treat frequency as you teach them this trick.
  6. Once they can sit for several seconds without moving, take a few steps away or turn your back.
  7. At this point they may get up and try to move towards you.  Don’t get discouraged.  Just reset back to step one and build on the foundation.
  8. Eventually, you should be able to walk away from your dog with your back turned and have them stay in the sitting position until you release them.

Teaching your dog to stay generally takes longer than some of the other easier tricks but it is worth it.  The repetition and positive reinforcement really help with this training and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment once you are able to get them to stay as you walk away.

Teach Your Dog To Lay Down

This trick is very much like the sitting trick except you’re going in the opposite direction with the gesture and treat.

  1.  Guide your dog to a sitting position.
  2. Take a treat in your hand and place it at nose level.
  3. Slowly begin to move the treat down towards the ground.
  4. your dog should move lower and lower to a laying position to get at the treat.
  5. Once their front paws and body are touching the floor, release the treat and give praise.
  6. Repeat this several times and begin to add the verbal cue “lay down” as you move towards the floor with the treat.
  7. Take the treat out and proceed with just the hand gesture and verbal cue.
  8. Repeat with and without the treat several more times.
  9. Your dog now understand the lay down concept!

Dog Lay down

How To Teach A Dog To Shake Paws Summarized

As you can see, there are several easy tricks we can teach a new dog to help them get used to their new surroundings and build a solid training foundation. This includes how to teach a dog to shake paws.  The key to all of these tricks is patience, repetition and positive reinforcement.  Every dog will learn in their own time.  Having patience and not getting negative or raising your voice with your dog is paramount to a positive and successful training environment.

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