How Do I Teach My Dog or Puppy to Shake Hands?

Are you wondering, “How do I teach my dog or puppy to shake hands?” Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the steps to make your furry friend the next handshake sensation. Learn techniques, tips, and tricks to bond with your pet and teach them this impressive trick.

You love your dog, and you want them to be well-behaved and adorable. One way to achieve this is by teaching them the classic “shake hands” trick. It’s not just about shaking paws; it’s a fantastic way to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. In this article, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of teaching your dog or puppy to shake hands. We’ll cover the basics, advanced techniques, and common pitfalls to avoid.

How Do I Teach My Dog or Puppy to Shake Hands?

Teaching your dog to shake hands might seem like a daunting task, but with patience, consistency, and a bit of creativity, it’s totally achievable. Here’s how you can get started:

1. Start with the Basics

Before you can teach your dog any tricks, they need to master the fundamentals. Make sure your dog is familiar with basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” These commands are building blocks for teaching them to shake hands.

2. Gather Your Tools

For this training, all you’ll need is some treats or their favorite toy. Positive reinforcement is the key to a successful training session.

3. Find the Right Time and Place

Choose a quiet and distraction-free environment for your training sessions. It’s best to start indoors and gradually move to more challenging outdoor settings.

4. Encourage the Behavior

When your dog naturally raises a paw, even if it’s by accident, immediately reward them with praise and a treat. This will encourage them to associate the action with something positive.

5. Add the Cue

Introduce a verbal cue like “shake” or “paw” when your dog offers their paw. Say the command and give the treat when they respond with the desired action.

6. Repetition and Practice

Consistency is key. Practice the “shake hands” command during short, frequent training sessions. Gradually increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable with the trick.

7. Generalize the Command

Once your dog masters the trick indoors, start practicing in different places with various people to ensure they can perform the trick in various situations.

8. Be Patient

Every dog learns at their own pace. Some may pick up the trick quickly, while others might take more time. Be patient, and remember that training should be fun for both you and your dog.

9. Avoid Punishment

Never scold or punish your dog during training. This can create fear and anxiety, making them less likely to cooperate. Positive reinforcement is the key to success.

10. Celebrate Success

When your dog successfully shakes hands, celebrate with enthusiasm, treats, and affection. They’ll be eager to repeat the behavior when they see how happy it makes you.

FAQs: How Do I Teach My Dog or Puppy to Shake Hands?

FAQ 1: Can I teach an older dog this trick, or is it only for puppies?

Absolutely! Dogs of all ages can learn new tricks. While puppies might learn more quickly, older dogs can also grasp the “shake hands” command with patience and consistent training.

FAQ 2: My dog is not food-motivated. Can I still train them to shake hands?

If your dog isn’t interested in treats, try using their favorite toy as a reward instead. Find what motivates your dog and use that to reinforce the behavior.

FAQ 3: What if my dog is aggressive or fearful? Can I still teach them to shake hands?

If your dog exhibits aggressive or fearful behavior, it’s essential to address these issues first with the help of a professional trainer. Once their behavior issues are under control, you can proceed with teaching them tricks.

FAQ 4: How long does it typically take to teach a dog to shake hands?

The time it takes for a dog to learn the “shake hands” trick varies from one dog to another. It depends on their age, breed, temperament, and the consistency of training. Some dogs may pick it up in a few days, while others might take several weeks.

FAQ 5: Is there a specific time of day that’s best for training?

Choose a time when your dog is alert and focused. Avoid training right after a meal, as they might be too full to be interested in treats.

FAQ 6: Can I combine the “shake hands” trick with other commands or tricks?

Absolutely! Once your dog has mastered the “shake hands” command, you can combine it with other tricks like “sit” or “roll over” to create an impressive routine.

Advanced Techniques for Teaching Your Dog to Shake Hands

Once your dog has the basics down, you can take the “shake hands” trick to the next level. Here are some advanced techniques to consider:

Advanced Technique 1: Adding Duration

Once your dog consistently offers their paw, work on extending the time they keep it in your hand before giving them the treat.

Advanced Technique 2: Teaching the Other Paw

After your dog is comfortable with one paw, start teaching them to shake with the other one. This enhances their coordination and flexibility.

Advanced Technique 3: Shaking with Both Paws

For a truly impressive performance, you can teach your dog to shake hands with both paws. This “double shake” is sure to amaze your friends and family.

Advanced Technique 4: Shake on Command

Once your dog understands the “shake hands” command, you can teach them to perform it solely on your cue, without them offering their paw first.

Advanced Technique 5: Adding Props

Introduce props like a hand-shaped target or a bell for your dog to ring with their paw. This adds a unique twist to the traditional handshake.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

In your quest to teach your dog to shake hands, watch out for these common pitfalls:

Mistake 1: Inconsistent Training

Skipping training sessions or being inconsistent with rewards can confuse your dog and hinder their progress.

Mistake 2: Using Negative Reinforcement

Never scold or punish your dog for not getting it right. Negative reinforcement can create anxiety and reluctance to learn.

Mistake 3: Overtraining

Short, frequent training sessions are more effective than long, exhausting ones. Overtraining can lead to frustration, boredom, and a lack of interest.

Mistake 4: Lack of Patience

Remember that every dog learns at their own pace. Be patient and celebrate small victories along the way.

Mistake 5: Neglecting Socialization

Teaching your dog to shake hands with different people helps them become more sociable and confident.


Teaching your dog or puppy to shake hands is a delightful way to strengthen your bond and keep them mentally stimulated. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, your furry friend will soon be charming everyone with their impressive handshake. So, go ahead and start training, and soon enough, you’ll proudly say, “My dog knows how to shake hands!”

Avatar photo

Cat Hocking

Having had dogs all of my life I have learnt so much and continue to learn more with each individual dog that enters our family. These amazing creatures can teach us so much! In the Dog Care Guru I share information, resources and accessories for our canine children.

More to Explore