Home Dog Training How to Train a Dog to Shake Hands in 6 Easy Steps

How to Train a Dog to Shake Hands in 6 Easy Steps

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One thing all new puppy parents want to know is how to train a dog to shake hands!

I think it’s one of the cutest things a dog can do.

And it turns out the process to teach them this trick is very simple.

All you have to do is follow the step-by-step guide below, and your dog will be shaking hands with the best of them!

However, before we get into the step-by-step guide, we must go over the supplies you’ll need.

What You’ll Need for a Successful Training Experience? 

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  • Patience: Your dog isn’t going to magically pick up the trick on the first try. You’ll need to be patient and consistent in your training attempts. It took me over a week to fully train my dog this command. 
  • Tasty treats: Dogs learn best through reward training. so find a treat your dog loves (my dog preferred treat is Milk bones) and use it to your advantage. 
  • 5 to 10 minutes: Until your dog gets the trick down, it’s an excellent idea to practice in two or three 5 to 10-minute sessions every day. Any longer might cause both of you to get tired and frustrated. 

Now, that you understand what you’ll need to successfully train your pup, it’s time we start diving into the step-by-step process.

Steps to Train a Dog to Shake Hands 

Step 1: Get them to Sit


The training will be much easier with your dog in a sitting position. It allows you to have more control over the situation and reduces the risk of your dog running away.

Additionally, make sure you’re in a crouching or sitting position yourself. It makes it less likely stubborn dogs like mine won’t get up from their sitting position to try and snatch the treat.

But for some breeds training them to sit or do anything is problematic. For example, I have a hyperactive Pit bull whose attention span lasts less than a second. If you’re in a situation like mine, the article below will help you teach your dog the sit command. After all, it helped me.


Related: Pitbull Puppy Training Tips – Teaching Sit


Step 2: Hold The Treat


After getting your dog to sit, hold the treat in your hand and show it to them. By doing this, you’ve obtained their focus. They’ll understand there’s a chance they’ll get a treat.

  • Once you’ve successfully gotten your dog interested in the treat, proceed to close your fist around it.
  • In doing so, you’re conveying they’ll need to earn their reward by doing something.
  • In other words, it starts to become a reward rather than a snack.


Check out these Best Training Treats for Dogs and How To Choose Them!


Step 3: Introduce the Command


With your dog’s interest peeked, wave your closed fist under your dog’s nose and say the command, “shake.” This action will form an association between the word, “shake” and the treat.

This association will be the crucial factor in successfully teaching your dog to shake hands. It’s the standard reward basis system that many dog owners like me use to train their dog all kinds of tricks.


Related: 10 Most Common Voice Commands Used in Dog Training


Step 4: Wait for the Digging to Begin 

As you keep running the treat under their nose, your dog will start sniffing your hand. Once your dog senses the treat’s still in your hand, the digging will begin. This digging is something you can use to your advantage.

  • Honestly, it’s the first sign your dog’s taking to the training.
  • By trying to dig the treat out your hand, they’re asking you what’s required of them to receive the treat.
  • However, some dogs won’t start digging at the treat no matter how many times you run it under their nose. In this case, don’t worry. These dogs are just being stubborn, but thankfully, there are ways to coax it out of them. 

What to Do if Your Dog Doesn’t Start Digging?

As you would expect from a hyperactive Pit bull, my dog didn’t start digging. Instead, she decided to act like her stubborn usual self. But the two actions below helped move the process a long toward to our ultimate goal of shaking hands.

  • Try moving the hand with the treat closer to their paw. You can even give them a little nudge on their paw to speed up the process. Once they raise their paw to your hand, provide them with plenty of praise for their success and let them have the treat. After giving them the treat, move onto step 5.
  • If the nudge doesn’t work, it’s time you put matters into your own hands, literally. Give the command, “shake,” pick up their paw into your hand, and praise them. After doing this a couple of times, your dog should understand what you expect out of them. Then, you should return to step 1 and try it all over again.


Step 5: Using the Digging to Your Advantage


As soon as, your dog raises their paw to your hand, starting congratulating them. For example, I  say something like, “good boy or good girl”. This sense of positive reinforcement will make the association between the treat and shake stronger.

Then, open your hand and give your dog the treat. Again, it’s all about trying to make your dog associate shaking your hand with being a treat worthy behavior. In the end, the treat represents an easy way of accelerating this process.


Step 6: Practice

One thing all new puppy parents want to know is how to train a dog to shake hands! I think it’s one of the cutest things a dog can do, and the process is very simple! Read on for the 6 steps to teaching your dog to shake!


As the old cliché goes, practice makes perfect. In this case, it’s not any different. Due to this, it’s essential you practice, “shake,” two or three times a day in 5 to 10-minute sessions. After all, consistency is the key to any kind of dog training.

After a while, your dog will start giving you their paw the second you give the command! Honestly, they might even start giving you their paw for no reason whatsoever.

An Alternative Method

If you’re a more visual learner, here’s an excellent YouTube video depicting another proven method of teaching the “shake” command. After all, it’s sometimes easier to follow training method that you see rather than you’ve read.


With these six steps and the additional video, you shouldn’t have any problem teaching your dog how to shake hands. In fact, I expect it will be a rather straightforward process that shouldn’t test your patience too much.

Do you have any other tips on how to train a dog to shake hands? Share your dog training success stories below!




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