How to teach a dog to shake hands in 5 steps

Last updated on January 3rd, 2016 at 11:55 am

Dogs are fun loving animals. They respond positively to love and affection. Hence, as a dog owner, it is

dog shaking hand

How to teach a dog to shake hands

imperative that your first priority is developing a strong bond with your pet. When you first bring a dog to your place, he’s nervous and scared. He may be shy or uncomfortable, but you can set things straight by showering him with unconditional love and affection.

Once you develop a solid bond with your canine, teaching him tricks such as a handshake or a salute will be much easier. Every new dog owner looks forward to the time they can teach them cool, new tricks. This is not just for impressing house visitors, but actually helps the dog to learn new things. Teaching a dog to shake hands requires meticulousness and patience.

5 Simple steps to teach your dog to shake hands

Step 1: Make him sit on the ground

Look into his eyes and give the command to sit. You can either use words/phrases such as “sit down here” or “sit here” or “sit”, while simultaneously pointing at the location where you want him to sit. His hind end, as well as rear legs, should be completely seated on the ground and the remaining body weight should be on his front legs. While training him, you should make sit him in one corner of the room, so that he isn’t distracted.

Step 2: Extend your hand

While maintaining consistent eye contact, give him the command to shake hands, while touching his right front paw.  You have to be extremely polite and loving while performing this action. The dog shouldn’t feel intimidated, because then he might need extra training or reassurance. Initially, you would have to reach to his paws for the handshake, but as he gets used to raising his paws, you can increase his training by keeping your palms about a foot  higher than the ground.

Step 3: Raise the paw

If your canine isn’t raising the paw, then you can help him do so, initially. You’ll probably have to repeat this process until he starts doing it on his own. Once your dog starts raising the paw effortlessly, you should offer him a treat and shower him with words of praise.

Praising and rewards go a long way in cultivating desired habits into your canine.

Step 4: Switch Paws

After your dog starts responding to your “handshake” command with the right paw, you should

How to ttrain a dog to shake hands

How to train a dog to shake hands

repeat the process with the left paw. In order to accustom him with this trick, you can use words/phrases such as ‘other paw’ or ‘other’. In order to reinforce the correct response, you can offer treats or words of praises every time he does it correctly. You can also switch your palms, while shaking hands, as he has to be acquainted with both your palms.

Step 5: Time to Flaunt the Trick

After you’re certain that he has gained mastery over the trick, you can start showcasing the bond between you in front of your friends and neighbors. Here, you have to be extremely patient with him, especially if he fails to perform the trick properly. There might be a possibility that he’s either shy or scared in front of others. With continued practice and positive reinforcement, he will eventually master the trick.


Additional Training Tips 

Develop a solid bond with your dog

As mentioned earlier, you can’t teach anything to your dog until you develop a solid bond and trust with him. Making him trust you is easier said than done, as you’ll need to show him that he’s absolutely safe in your company. Give him reasons to trust you. For instance, if you rest by his side, cuddle him, play with him or offer treats regularly, then you may win his trust sooner. Treat your pet like you’d want others to treat you. Most individuals fail to realize that dogs can differentiate between true and fake love. So, show real affection and genuine pride.

Be particular about giving treats

Treats are primarily meant for reinforcing desired results from your dog. You can keep a tab on treats or else your dog may value them less. For instance, you can give him a treat for the first time he performs the desired activity. This treat will let him know that if he performs this activity repeatedly, then he’ll be rewarded with a delicious snack. You can give him another treat when he masters the activity.

Here, it is essential to remember that you can always break this pattern in rare cases. If the dog is low or not feeling good on a particular day, but still he’s putting up an effort to shake hands, then you should make him feel special. You can also give him a treat when he has performed exceedingly well on a particular day during the training. All said and done, you should take the final call regarding the treats. During initial stages of training, you can offer greater number of treats, but as training progresses and he gets used to the activity, you can reduce the number and type of treats offered.

Hints & Precautions

  • You should practice the technique only once a day for a maximum duration of 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, there is a risk of boredom and frustration for both of you. Also, during initial stages, you should keep the training session short and precise, because you don’t want the dog to hate the activity at this point.
  • Avoid showing your frustration or tiredness while training the dog. If you can’t prolong anymore, then end the day’s training on a positive note by asking the dog to perform an activity, which he’s accustomed to do. Reward him and end the session.
  • Avoid feeding him with a treat that requires excessive chewing, or you might spend too much of the training session watching him chew the treat. If you don’t have detailed knowledge about the types of treat to offer, then you can always consult a dog trainer to help you with it.
  • If you have a stubborn dog, then you might have to spend more time in order to get things done. Irrespective of the dog’s behavior, you shouldn’t use force to get things done. This isn’t how you’re supposed to train him. For instance, grouchy or stubborn dogs are to be dealt with immense patience and love. If you hurt them, then training them becomes far more difficult. Get the help of an expert trainer, especially if you face difficulty in handling them.

The above mentioned tips can help you teach your dog to shake hands. If you remember these basic tips, you can train almost any breed of dog. You can always tweak it a bit according to the comfort and skill of you and your dog.  At the end of day, you just need to be a loving and caring individual to get great results.

Brogan Renshaw
Brogan Renshaw

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