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Teaching Your Dog How to Shake Hands

Jan 17,2023 | Petbobi

The handshake is a friendly form of greeting recognized nearly all over the world. In many countries, people are expected to know how to give a proper handshake, especially for an interview! A firm but friendly handshake can be the key to making an amazing first impression, whether with a potential boss or when meeting a new friend. 

While our furry friends may never have to apply for a job or go through an interview, what better way to ensure they are the perfect gentleman or lady than by teaching them how to give new friends a friendly handshake? 

After all, the way dogs introduce themselves to each other may not go over as well with our human guests! To ensure your pup doesn't offend any humans by trying to sniff their bums, consider trying to teach your dog to shake hands instead! 

But how do we actually go about dog training at home? Keep reading, and we'll share a couple of tried and true methods that are sure to work for any pup. 



Getting started

Before learning how to shake, your pup will need to have already had some basic obedience training and already know how to sit on command. Before moving on to more advanced training, like shaking hands, ensure your dog fully comprehends the "sit" command. 

Depending on your pup, there are two different things you can do to teach the "shake" command. Both methods require delicious treats that get your dog excited and motivated, so be sure to have those on hand before you begin training. 



Hand-on-Paw Method

The first option is to show your pooch exactly what you want him to do. First, have your dog sit. Then take his paw with your hand and give it a quick shake and say the command "shake." Your dog may be surprised by this, but quickly reward him by excitedly praising him and giving him that delicious treat. That's it! 

Just keep repeating this process over and over. Have your dog sit. Grab your dog's paw and then shake. And, of course, always follow up the shake with a treat! Eventually, your dog will start to understand what you are asking. At some point, when you say "shake," your dog will likely give you his paw before you can even pick it up! 

When your dog starts to lift his paw up to you on his own without you having to grab it first, shake it and give him a treat and lots of enthusiastic praise. From now on, when you practice "shake," don't grab your dog's paw until he gives it to you first. He knows the trick, but now he just needs to keep practicing! 



Treat in Hand Method

Now the other way to teach your pup how to shake hands is meant for the dogs who might be slightly offended by you grabbing their paw. As many of us know, some dogs truly hate having their nails trimmed and, because of this, don't like having their paws touched at all. These pups will likely not be receptive to having their paw grabbed. And that's okay! We just have to wait for them to make the first move. 

So, like in option one, start by having your dog sit. From there, show your dog the delicious treat you have waiting for him. But instead of grabbing his paw, or giving him the treat, close your hand with the treat in your fist, and encourage your dog to smell the treat. 

If it's a really good treat and smells especially amazing, your dog will likely sniff around your first to get closer to the treat. And when he can't get your fist open with his little nose, his next step will usually be to paw at your hand to get you to open your fist so he can get the treat.

As soon as his paw touches you, say "shake!" and open your hand and give your dog the treat. If you like clicker training, in addition to saying "shake" when his paw touches your hand, mark the behavior with a click. And of course, don't forget the treat. 

Moving forward, you'll want to start giving your dog the reward from your other hand so you can use your original hand for shaking. For example, when your dog gets the hang of hitting your closed hand with his paw, say "shake" and reward him with a treat from your free hand. Repeat this a few times. 

Now, you can start offering your dog your hand open without a closed fist and giving the "shake" command. Keep the treat in your other hand. Your dog should, at this point, understand that he needs to paw at your open hand to get a treat from your other hand. Keep doing this until you feel like you can shake your dog's paw up and down when he hands it to you. And that's it. Your dog knows how to shake! 



Final Takeaways

Remember that dog training is not always linear, and sometimes we may need to step back before moving forward. If your dog is having trouble, start again at the beginning. And remember to be patient and have fun. You'll have a proper gentleman or lady in no time!