Out of all the people in my life, my pooch is the only one who takes my commands seriously, and the one that he loved learning was to shake his paw. No matter how simple and old it is, your dog shaking paws is still one of the best party tricks that fascinates not just kids but also adults. Teaching a dog to shake is a positive experience and interaction not just for your dog but it is also a pleasant time as your entire family including the younger ones say 7 or 8 years olds can participate in it.
What All Do We Need To Make Your Dog Shake His Paw?
Training your dog isn’t rocket science, we just need you, your dog, some of your dog’s favourite treats and a little patience. This will do the magic, so let us begin.
Process of Training –
Step 1 – Let Your Dog Sit Facing Towards You
Well if your dog is trained enough a simple command of sit will work, but if your dog isn’t trained just stand in front of him, ensuring that he is facing towards you and wait for him to settle down. Once he sits down give him his favorite treat and give him a verbal cue like ‘good’ ‘bingo’, ‘great’ ‘tresbien’ etc.
Step 2 – Hide The Treat In Your Fist
Put your dog’s favorite treat in your fist and close it. Bring your fist in front of his eyes and nose and let him sniff and smell his favorite snack in your fist and compel him to raid it, but make sure you don’t give it to him or let it snatch it from you.
Step 3 – Compel Your Dog To Raise His Paw
After sniffing his favorite treat in your fist he will try to raid it out from your fist by his mouth, jaw and teeth. Usually when dogs are not able to grab the stuff they desire by their mouth they use their paws to get a hold of it, so wait for your dog to raise his paw and once he does, treat him. Remember that it is not important that he raises his paws completely for a successful handshake only then you have to treat him, even a little effort put by your pooch such as lifting the paw a little needs to be appreciated so that he gets the idea of what is desired of him and he does even better.
In case your dog is taking a lot of time to raise the paw, do not grab his paw and use force but try tickling his paw and when he raises it a little appreciate him accompanied with a verbal cue for appreciation that you used in step one.
Step 4 – Keep Appreciating Your Dog’s Paw Taps
The moment your dog lifts his paw and taps at your hand, appreciate him by feeding a treat accompanied with the used verbal cues. Once your dog taps on your hand, hold it and let go, treat him accompanied with a verbal cue appreciating him. Gradually start holding your dogs paw gently for a little longer period of time and then let go, appreciate, treat and verbal cues. Keep doing this for a few more number of times and then finally shake your hand with his paw firmly but gently and let go, or pump his paw and then let go.
Step 5 – Start Missing The Treat
Finally start bringing your hand in front of him but this time without any treat for your dog. And if your dog taps your hand with his paw keep repeating this sequence, and start adding the desired verbal cues such as ‘shake’. Once you are certain that your dog has got the idea of shaking paws, don’t keep him bereft of snacks, rather reward him for his way of following the command by feeding him his favorite treat alternatively at first, and then gradually keep tapering it off until your dog is clearly following your command.
Congratulations, your dog is now ready for a performance and will help you to impress your friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Remember that when you are training your dog for shaking his paws with you, you are not just teaching him a trick but broadening the scope of your communication with your dog. You can also take the help of a clicker which is used as a positive reinforcement tool every time your dog makes even a little progress. For example clicking the moment he sits (clicker) moves his claws up towards your fist to snatch the snack (clicker) taps on your hands with his paws (clicker). Clicker is a positive marker and needs to be clicked at every moment your dog acts exactly how you wanted him to, by this your dog gets to know that you approve and appreciate his behavior and would want him to repeat it.
Remember the most important ingredient in the entire training session is not the treat or the clicker, it is your patience. No matter how tempted you are to grab your pooch’s paw after he did not get the cue to raise his paw but this spoon feeding might now work as he is not using his mind in that action and is learning nothing. And a word of caution is that ensure that there is no application of force, any force, punishment or use of excessive negative markers can confuse your dog and make him anxious.
Training your pooch how to shake his paw is a pleasant experience, let it remain positive for you and the dog.