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How to Teach a Dog to Shake

dog shaking human's hand

Fact checked by a Hello Ralphie expert veterinarian

After your dog has learned the basic commands, like sit, lay down, and stay, you can move towards more advanced tricks, like teaching your dog how to shake your hand or give a paw, as it is sometimes known, comes into play.

Not only is the shake command a fun and satisfying trick, but it can also be really helpful when it comes time to clean your dog’s muddy paws or even trim nails. If you would like to teach your dog how to shake, we can help!

We will start by going over some basic information, like when you should start teaching your dog this fun trick and what sort of things you should keep in mind before the training begins. At this point, we can then go over some simple steps you can follow to teach your dog how to shake.

At What Age Can You Begin Training?

There are some misconceptions about the appropriate age a dog should be before it can begin training. While it is true that puppies have short attention spans and are usually distracted easily, you might be surprised how well puppies can learn tricks and commands. However, it is important that the training involves lots of patience, positivity, and encouragement.

You can teach puppies the basics when they are as young as 8 to 10 weeks old. However, more complicated tricks and full training classes usually begin at a slightly older age.

Before You Teach a Dog How to Shake, Teach Them the Basics:

It is always helpful if your dog knows the basics before you move to the shake command. Not only will the sit command help you teach your dog how to shake, it is a much more practical command that can come in handy when it comes to socializing a puppy. If you ever have questions about when you can start training a puppy, our online veterinarians are always here to help!

cute chihuahua dog shaking hand with human

Things to Keep in Mind Before Beginning Training

No matter how complicated the trick or command is, you should always remember that any training will be more successful if you focus on positive reinforcement rather than punishment.

Always Remain Positive and Patient:

When teaching a dog anything new, be prepared to be patient, positive, and realistic. Punishment, anger, and frustration can quickly scare and confuse a dog, which will always hinder its ability to learn. Always provide praise and encouragement, no matter how slowly it seems like the training is progressing.

Use Rewards:

While patience and positivity help create a happy learning environment, most dogs, especially when they are puppies, learn better when rewards are involved. Choose a simple and satisfying reward that will help motivate your dog to learn.

As the dog performs a task successfully, you can reward them with a mixture of praise and a treat. If you plan to train your dog without using treats, you can sometimes use their favorite toy as a reward.

Keep Training Sessions Brief:

While you can train dogs at a young age, you must consider their short attention spans. Keep your training sessions brief, meaning somewhere within the 5-to-15-minute range, as this will ensure you can hold their attention and focus. It is also important that you end each session on a positive note, as this will ensure that your dog will enjoy training and associate it with fun and rewards, rather than confusion and fear.

woman with dog in park during sunny day

Steps for Teaching Your Dog How to Shake

Step 1 – Have your dog sit, preferably by using the sit command. This is why it is helpful to teach your dog how to sit before you move onto less important tricks, like a shake.

Step 2 – Hold a treat out in front of your dog’s nose. Once the dog has acknowledged the treat, hide it by closing your fist.

Step 3 – Hold the fist containing the treat outwards with your palm facing up. You should be crouching, and your fist should be at the height of your dog’s upper chest.

Step 4 – Keep your fist closed and do not open it. Your dog will likely paw at your hand to try and get you to give them the treat. When they paw your hand, give the dog praise and then release the treat.

Step 5 – Repeat steps 1 to 4 until your dog seems to understand that pawing your hand results in a reward.

Step 6 – Now that your dog seems to understand the process, you can try doing it without a treat in your outstretched hand. After your dog has pawed that hand, give them a treat from your other hand.

Step 7 – By this point, your dog should understand the basic routine – pawing your hand results in a treat. Now it is time to add the verbal command. Decide on a simple command, such as “shake” or “paw”, and add that word just before you put out your hand. Continue to do this until your dog associates the command word with the routine.

As your dog begins to clearly understand the command, you can start going through the routine with fewer treats. Once you get to the point where your dog will perform the trick without needing a treat, you have successfully taught your dog how to shake!

What to Do if You Are Struggling to Teach Your Dog New Tricks and Commands?

If you are a first-time dog owner or are just struggling to train a particular dog, you can always reach out to one of our qualified online veterinarians for a virtual vet appointment. Sometimes just having the opportunity to talk to a vet online from the comfort of your own home can be just what you need to make sure your furry friend can learn properly.

Not only are they great for training tips, but online vet appointments are also a great way to make sure that your dog is happy and healthy. A virtual veterinarian at Hello Ralphie would be happy to answer any questions you may have during a virtual vet appointment. Speak with a vet or make a vet appointment today!

If you have recently added a new puppy to your family and are looking for some basic pointers, our New Puppy Tips is also a great place to start!

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