Teaching your dog to shake is a great way to bond with your dog. The trick is fairly simple to teach and is a great starting point for learning other tricks.

To teach your dog to shake, you have to first teach them to reach out their paw to your hand and leave it there long enough for you to shake it. Then you need to pair the action with a command and practice the action over and over again.

In this article, we will go over all of the steps for teaching your dog to shake. We will also give some tips about other tricks that they might need to know before learning shake, and some to try once your dog has mastered this one. Finally, we will review some of the benefits of training your dogs, such as the bond you will create together and the mental stimulation that your dog will feel.

As a long-time dog owner and lover, I am going to walk you through the process of teaching and training your dog to shake. Learning how to do this with your dog will not only bring the two of you closer together, but it will cognitively stimulate your dog as well. Let’s get started!

Table of contents


How Do You Teach a Dog to Shake?

Teaching your dog to shake hands with you is a simple process but might take some time. Encouraging your dog to move its paw in a shaking motion is simple enough. The harder part is pairing this action with a command and having your dog respond to it every time.

At the end of the day, you want your dog to put their paw in your hand when you say “shake” or another chosen command word. Keep in mind that during the training process, you don’t want to move any part of your dog’s body for them. It won’t help your training to pick up your dog’s paw to teach them to shake.

Proper learning and training happen when you reward dogs for their behavior. No matter how long it takes, you must wait for your dog to do the motion that you want them to do. In this case, that would be to place their paw in your hand. We will remind you of this throughout the article, but remember to only give a reward once your dog has done the task that you want them to do.

Start By Holding Out Your Hand

You want to start this training process by encouraging your dog to lift its paw to your hand. Have them start in a sitting position. Then, you can hold your hand out with your palm up. You will then need to wait for your dog to paw at your hand. Keep in mind that this may take some time. They have no idea what you want them to do, so they might sniff your hand at first or even completely ignore you.

At this point, you don’t want to introduce a command word yet. It is best to stay still and quiet while you wait for your dog to lift its paw and place it on or near your hand. As soon as they do this, give your dog praise. This way, they know that lifting their paw is good and it is what you wanted from them.

If your dog isn’t interested in your hand after several tries, you may need to make your hand more interesting. Instead of holding out your hand with your palm up, try holding a treat in your hand and holding out your fist. The treat should make your dog much more interested in your hand than before.

Most dogs will need a treat to motivate them to learn this trick, and that is fine. Eventually, you will want to do this trick without a treat. We will discuss how to do that later. Once your dog lifts its paw to your hand, you can release the treat for them and give them lots of praise. Repeat this several times.

Increase the Difficulty

Now that your dog knows that they should put their paw on your hand when you hold it out to them, it is time to increase the difficulty of the trick. The final trick will require your dog to place its paw in your palm long enough for you to shake it. Therefore, they need to keep their paw on your hand for as long as possible.

To do this, you will need to stop giving immediate praise when their paw reaches your hand. At first, just delay the praise by a few moments. Slowly lengthen the time until they know to leave their paw on your hand, rather than just scratch it.

You will know that you have mastered this step when you can hold out your fist with a treat and your dog will place its paw on top of your hand for several seconds. Remember that with this step, we are just delaying the praise and treat for your dog. Remember to reward your dog each time they do the trick correctly.

Give the Treat From Your Other Hand

Now it is time to get your dog to place their paw on your hand even when there is no treat. To do this, start by holding out your fist again, except this time don’t put a treat inside. From instinct, your dog will expect a treat to be inside your hand. They should place their paw on your hand.

Once they do that, open your fist to reveal that there is no treat there. Simultaneously, you should give them a treat from your other hand and give them praise.

Before, your dog thought that by placing their paw on your hand, your hand would open up to give them a treat. After practicing this a few times, your dog will learn that they will get a treat and praise when they put their paw on your outstretched hand, but it didn’t necessarily come from your hand.

This process is how your dog learns that this is a trick rather than just a way to get treats.

Pair the Trick With a Command

You shouldn’t start working on this step until you have completed the previous ones. If you start using a command word too early, your dog may associate the trick with scratching your hand rather than shaking your hand.

When you are practicing the trick with your dog, say your chosen command word, such as “shake” as they complete the trick. Practice doing this over and over so that your dog gets used to the command.

Once they are used to you saying the command each time, you can start removing the treat. Do this slowly. If you practice the trick five times in a row each day, simply don’t give a treat for one of the times one day. The next day, don’t give a treat for two of the practice tricks.

Eventually, you will get to a point where you no longer need the treat to do the trick. To maintain this level of training, you will need to practice the trick every day. If you ever take some time off of training, you may need to reintroduce a treat to remind your dog how to do the trick.

At the end of this process, you should be able to give your dog the shake command and your dog will place their paw in your hand to shake it.

Modifying the Shake Trick

Once your dog has mastered the shake command, you can try to teach them a similar trick: the high five. This trick requires a small modification from the shake trick. Once they master this trick, your dog should be able to give you a high five on command.

To teach your dog to give you a high five, start by giving the shake command. Once they do the trick, give them praise. Next, repeat the trick but with a few modifications. Don’t give a command and turn your palm slightly up. Don’t put your hand directly into a high five position yet. We will work our way towards this.

Your dog should place its paw in your hand. Continue doing this while slowly moving your hand into a high five position with your palm facing them. They should have to lift their paw pretty high to reach your hand. Throughout this process of moving your hand position, be sure not to give any commands. You may need to hold treats in your hand to encourage your dog to do the trick.

Once your dog is used to pawing at your hand when it is in the high five position, you can pair the trick with the high five command. With a lot of practice, your dog will give you a high five on command without a treat.

To make sure your dog doesn’t confuse this command with shake, practice both tricks daily. Don’t get frustrated if your dog confuses these two tricks. They are very similar and easy to confuse when they are still learning. With plenty of practice, they will be able to distinguish the two tricks.

Helpful Tricks to Learn Before Shake

While teaching your dog to shake hands is a simple, beginner-level dog trick, it may be helpful for your dog to learn just a few tricks before jumping in. If you have recently adopted your dog or have a puppy, you may want to spend some time learning basic obedience before jumping into fun tricks.

Basic obedience tricks like sit, stay, or come may seem boring, but they are at the foundation of all other tricks. Learning basic obedience with your dog not only teaches them some primary tricks that they should know, but it allows you to grow your bond together.

If you adopt your dog one day and start trying to teach them to shake the next day, your dog is not likely to listen to you, since you are still a stranger to them. Try teaching some basic obedience commands and spending time with your dog to develop a bond before jumping into other tricks.

Sit, stay, and come are three of the most important basic commands that your dog should know. All of them are important, but “sit” is the only one that is a prerequisite for learning to shake. If you are finding that your dog is having difficulty learning to shake, try revisiting some of these obedience commands to see if they need to refresh their memory.

Benefits of Teaching Your Dog to Shake

Teaching your dog this trick may seem silly, but learning this is definitely beneficial to your dog. Teaching your dog requires a lot of time and communication between the two of you. This time alone is enough for you to form a strong bond. The more training you do, the more your dog will trust you and the happier the both of you will be.

Teaching tricks and commands like “shake” is also an excellent way to mentally stimulate your dog. Certain dog breeds require mental stimulation as much as they need physical exercise. Boredom from lack of mental stimulation can contribute to bad behaviors like chewing and destroying things in your home.

Performing tricks such as “shake” is a great exercise for both the dog and human. It might not seem like “shake” requires a lot of strength or physical exertion from your dog. However, even if the trick doesn’t involve a lot of running, tricks usually require balance, flexibility, and strength. By spending a little bit of time every day or every week working on tricks with your dog, you can tire them out and give them a great exercise routine.

Finally, by teaching your dog to shake, you are preparing them to learn other, more difficult tricks. Shake is a beginner trick. By learning it, you are walking your dog through the training process. Once they master this trick, they will be much more likely to learn and retain other tricks and training.


Russell Wright

Russell Wright

I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.

Read More About Russell Wright