How to Teach Your Dog to Shake


Teaching your dog to shake is a great party trick and one that is easily taught. You can even get the kids involved.

Most children over the age of 7 years can be taught basic training techniques and in fact many children are more persistent than adults when it comes to training the family pet!

What Is Important?

  • Patience
  • 1 dog preferably with at least 1 front paw
  • Small tasty treats that don’t take long to chew (use something high value such as bbq chicken or liver treats if your dog is hard to motivate, or train when he is hungry)
  • Just 5 minutes each day


  1. Assuming your dog can sit, the first step is to get him in position.
  2. Hold a treat in your hand and show him the treat (it may be useful to have the remaining treats easy to access in a pouch or pocket), then close your fist over the treat.
  3. Hold the treat, in your closed fist close to his foot, about 5cm off the ground.
  4. If your dog stands up, ask him to sit again.
  5. If your dog lifts his paw even a little, or even shifts weight onto the other paw, tell him he is a good boy and give him the treat.
  6. Most dogs will bat at your hand to get the treat, so as soon as this happens open your hand to reveal the treat and tell him ‘good’ or ‘yes’, whatever your signal is for doing the right thing.
  7. At the same time your other hand should be held out flat to ‘shake’ when your dog lifts his paw, so you can grab his paw while he takes the treat.
  8. Reward him immediately he does the correct thing, even if he only lifts his foot a little bit the first time.
  9. When he is reliably lifting his paw for a treat, add the word ‘shake’.

Teaching The Verbal Command

Introduce a verbal command.

After your dog beings consistently pawing at the treat in your closed hand, you can start to introduce your preferred verbal command. Wait until your dog paws at your hand and issue the command while giving him the treat.

  • Your command could be any word, but “Shake” or “Paw” are commonly used.
  • Say your command clearly and loud enough to be heard by your dog.
  • Issue your command at the exact moment the dog paws at your hand.
  • Once you pick a command, don’t change it, as this will confuse your dog.
  • Keep any command short. Generally only one word commands will be the best.

Start preemptively using your command.

After you have begun using your verbal command when your dog paws at your hand, it’s time to start saying it before it paws. As you move the hand with the treat towards your dog, say your command.

  • This step helps him to realize the verbal command is now the signal to bring his paw up to shake.
  • Ideally, your dog will bring his paw up as soon as you say your command.
  • Only after he shakes should you reward him with the treat and praise him.
  • If your dog doesn’t bring his paw up at the command, try again until he does. If he still doesn’t after about fifteen minutes, stop for a while and try again later. You don’t want to frustrate your dog.

Only reward your dog when he completes the command.

Rewarding your dog for any other behavior will confuse your dog. Never reward him unless he has completed the command successfully, or else he might view your rewards as bribes.

  • Avoid improper rewarding by always obtaining your dogs full attention before training.
  • Don’t get frustrated and give your dog the treat if he isn’t doing the “shake” command as you asked. Giving up like this will send the message that if he sits and ignores you he will be rewarded.
  • Realize that your dog is always paying attention. Any treat given to him will likely be associated with whatever he was doing at the time.
  • Your dog wants to earn treats. Once he makes the connection that a behavior will earn him something tasty, he will be ready to behave in that way. This counts for both good or bad behavior. Be aware of this when you reward your dog.

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