How to Teach a Dog to Shake

Teaching your dog to shake is a classic dog trick that most dogs learn very quickly and will thrill your friends and family.

Watch our dog trainer’s video on teaching your dog to shake. (Natasha, email me before you post this article, so I can send you the link.)

Before your training session, gather your supplies:

  • small pieces of treats your dog is excited about
  • a clicker if you are clicker training
  • an area with minimal distractions like a quiet room inside your home

Teach a dog to shake in 5 steps:

Step 1: Holding a treat in a closed fist out to your dog. Wait as your dog explores your hand sniffing, nuzzling and then eventually pawing at your hand trying to get the treat. When your dog paws at your hand, praise (click if you are clicker training) and give your dog the treat. This is the foundation for what will become the shake trick.

If your dog sniffs and licks at your hand while trying to get the treat, ignore this and be patient until she uses her paw.

Step 2: When your dog constantly paws at your hand to get the treat in your closed fist, start to introduce the verbal cue of choice like “shake” or “hello.”

Step 3: As your dog improves, phase out the treat in your hand. Hold out your empty fist to your dog and give your verbal cue for shake. When your dog places her paw on your hand, praise and give her a treat.

Step 4: When your dog is consistently offering the shake behavior with your empty fist, hold out an open hand and give her the verbal cue to shake. When your dog’s paw connects with your hand, praise, click and treat.

As you practice, hold your hand out to your dog at her chest level so it will be comfortable for her to reach and shake your hand.

Step 5: Start to add a few seconds of duration with your dog’s paw on your hand, and gently move your hand up and down in a hand-shaking motion. Be sure to praise and reward your dog with treats after she finishes the trick!

Next steps

The more familiar your dog gets, practice shaking in areas with distractions like while on a walk. Also try increasing the duration of shaking your dog’s paw. If your dog is social and enjoys interactions, shaking is a great trick that other people can cue for your dog. Just remember to praise and treat her after she shakes hands!

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