Imagine how proud you you will be when your dog learns to greet your guest by using his paws rather than wagging his tail. Shaking hands …err paws, is an entertaining trick that is relatively easy to teach your dog. Most dogs can learn to shake hands quickly when owners take a consistent step-by-step approach. There are several different ways to train your dog to shake hands, but the most popular methods can be found below.
Prior to Training
Before you can begin training your dog to shake hands or to perform other tricks, you should have a solid and trusting relationship with your dog. You should also make sure that your dog can understand some basic commands such as sit, come and down. These are the basic commands that form the basis for additional trainings and tricks.
Owners should be patient and understand that trick training is considered ‘just for fun’, and should not be used as a substitute for obedience training. Dog owners also know that dog treats plays an important role in dog training. Take the time to find out which treats can help make your training much easier and more effective.
The Training Process
Once you and your dog have a secure bond, and he knows some basic commands, the training process to learn how to shake hands can begin. Below, you will find an exact step by step process on how to train your dog to shake hands with you.
Gain your dog’s full attention by calling his name, and commanding him to sit with his rump on the floor.
If he does not know how to sit, go back and practice that command before moving on to next step. If your dog is distracted rather than focused on you, it will be very difficult to continue with the training.
Slowly, place a dog treat in your closed hand and hold it in front of your dog’s nose, allowing him to smell but not see it.
Your dog may sniff your hand or rub his nose against it in an attempt to discover the origin of the smell. Eventually, your dog will paw at the closed hand, and you can reward him with a dog treat. Repeat this step until your dog automatically paws at your hand when you offer it.
After a few days of training, offer your closed hand, the one without a dog treat, in front of your dog’s nose.
When the dog paws at your hand, you can reward him with a treat from the other hand. The treat will leave a smell in your hand that the dog will recognize, which is helpful when coaxing your dog to put his paw in your hand. When your dog becomes accustomed to putting his paw in the hand that does not contain the treat, you can move forward to tackle the next step in the training process.
Extend your open hand, palms up, in front of your dog and wait him for him to respond.
After several training sessions, he should place his paw in your hand, and you should respond by offering your dog an immediate reward. Repeat these steps several times, until the dog has a clear understanding of what is expected.
If the dog will not perform the correct action, you should try to close your hand and open it gradually, until the dog learns to paw at your open hand.
Once your dog has mastered the art of shaking hands with your palm flat and no treat in sight, it is time to move on to the verbal command.
The next step will accustom your dog to verbal cues such as ‘shake’.
Say the command and extend your open hand, palms up, and wait for a response. Wait one or two moment, then say the command and offer your palm to the dog again. Always give your dog a treat when he complies during the training process.
Decrease the frequency of the reward given, gradually.
Be careful not decrease the rewards too quickly or you will reduce your dog’s motivation, and he could stop performing the trick all together. Start rewarding the dog once for every two or three times he completes the trick.
If your dog is actively pawing at your hand in an attempt to shake hands for a reward, you should withhold the dog treat. Remember, at this point, you should only reward your dog after giving a verbal command.
After the Training
You have reached a point in your dog’s training where it is okay to test his understanding to make sure he is performing the ‘hand shake’ trick consistently. Perform this test in numerous locations such as the backyard, park, or playground, and try to minimize distractions.
You and your dog can show everyone that he knows how to ‘shake hands’, and teach them how to shake hands with your canine too. You should not have to go back to the first steps for other family members. Instead, they should offer their palms and use the verbal cue. Give your pet dog treats when he successfully performs the trick.
Other Training Tips
You should begin training your dog for five minutes, practicing two to three times daily.
It will become harder and harder for your dog to concentrate when the training sessions continue for too long. Give your dog a reward immediately following the correct action, or he might become confused or think he is misunderstanding your command.
If your dog does not paw at your hand, no matter how long you try to coax him with the dog treat, you should move your hand closer to his paw.
You might also need to give his leg or paw a little nudge for encouragement. When your dog raises his paw to touch your hand, give him a treat and follow the directions from step two.
If your dog still does not put his paw on your hand, even after a gentle nudge on his leg or paw, you can say the command “shake!” and show him what you want him to do.
You should try lifting his paw gently and placing it in your hand. Immediately give your dog praise, saying things like “good” or “yes”, and follow with a treat.
Repeat these steps until your dog can respond to the cue word by raising his paw and placing it in your hand without assistance.
This can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on your dog.
These steps and training tips should provide some assistance and direction as you teach your dog how to shake hands. With repetition and determination, you and your dog will both enjoy the dog training process and the many rewards that follow.