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How to Train a Dog to Shake

By Stacy Painter
published: August 10, 2022 - updated: October 27, 2023 • 2 min. read
person teaching puppy how to shake

“Shake” or “give paw” is a fun and easy trick to teach a dog at any age. When you first bring your new dog home, basic training commands like “shake” are a great way to spend quality time bonding and developing a relationship with your new pal. With just a few 5-minute training sessions, your dog can quickly learn his newest trick. 

Dog shaking a hand

See an infographic with step-by-step instructions for “shake” and other tricks.

Prepare for training

Energy level: As with any new trick, practice training after your dog has gotten out his excess energy. If your dog is especially energetic, it may be difficult for him to focus on training, resulting in a frustrating training experience for you. Before expecting your dog to be patient and sit still, give him some good exercise to relieve that extra energy. 

Training treats: Use treats that are highly enticing to your dog. For some, this could be the same kibble you feed him at meal times, and for others, you may need to get out special treats, cut up cheese, or meat. Whichever you use, be sure to break them into small, pea-sized pieces to control his calorie intake and keep him from getting full too quickly.

Protect your pet

The “tap tap” method

Practice this trick with your dog, starting in a sitting position. If he stands up at any point, ask him to sit again. Hold treats or your clicker in one hand.

  1. Without verbal cues, take one finger of your free hand and lightly tap the back of your pup’s paw two or three times. If his weight is shifted to one side, focus on the paw with less weight on it. 
  2. When your dog lifts his paw, even just a little, pick it up in your hand and reward with verbal praise and a treat (and a click, if you use a clicker). 
  3. Repeat this process 5-10 times, rewarding with each succession. 
  4. Your dog will begin to pick up on the pattern and may start offering his paw before you are able to tap the back of it. When you get to this point, add in the verbal cue “shake” as you reach your hand out. 

The waiting method

Again, practice with your dog in a sitting position. By showing him or giving him a quick sniff, ensure your dog knows you have tasty treats on hand.

  1. Close a treat in your hand and hold it out at your dog’s knee height.
  2. He may try sniffing or licking at your hand in effort to get you to release the treat. When that doesn’t work, he may try pawing at it. 
  3. When your dog lifts his paw, verbally praise him and offer the treat. 
  4. Repeat this process a few times with treat in hand, then a few times with an empty hand, always offering a treat each time he successfully offers his paw.
  5. After 5-10 times, add the verbal cue “shake”.

Practice for a few minutes each day, and your dog will have mastered “shake” in no time. Which training method worked best for you?

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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