Watching your dog make the tricks you taught them, such as the ‘play dead’ trick, is both satisfying and amusing, but your pet requires a bit of training to do so. Let’s find out how to teach your dog to shake hands on command!

What Do You Need to Train Your Dog?

First off, you need treats. You can teach your dog anything as long as you have a reward for their success.

You can, however, train them without relying on treats, but it takes more time since rewards encourage your dogs to follow your commands. Besides, you won’t need treats after you taught them properly: they will follow your orders on cue!

Second, you need to be patient, so you should distress yourself and relax before training. Keep in mind that dogs, especially puppies, are pretty active, so don’t lose your temper. Take a break if needed: training should be a fun experience for both of you.

How to Teach a Dog to Shake Hands

Enter: the training schedule. This is a fairly easy and short process, so don’t worry about taking forever to teach your dog this simple trick. Here’s how to teach a dog to shake hands:

1. Sit

Make your dog sit in front of you. If your dog is too energetic to stay fixed in one place, play with them, but don’t use a leash unless you really need it!

2. Show Your Hand

Now that your dog is in front of you, show them your hand. Their natural reaction will be to sniff it or lick it. Your dog may raise their paws towards your hand. Reward them if that happens.

3. Place a Treat In Your Hand

Since your dog is paying attention to your hand, place a treat in your hand and close it. They will notice this and will immediately try to get it either by trying to eat it right off your hand or placing their paw on your hand to grab it.

When they use their paws, open your hand so that they can eat the trait and praise them with strokes, hugs, or verbal praise. Dogs possess high emotional intelligence, so it’s key to show them you’re glad about their achievements!

4. Grind and Repeat

It’s time for some tedious repetitions. You’ll have to repeat step 3 repeatedly until your dog understands what you’re expecting them to do. You don’t need to make them understand in one session, but you have to be consistent about their training.

It’s advisable to train them almost every day until they place their paws on your hand almost reflexively when you put your open hand in front of them. When they start doing it, maintain their paw on your hand for longer periods of time before giving them a reward.

5. Make It a Command

Your dog now knows they have to place their paws on your hands, you can begin adding verbal cues.

They could be ‘shake’, ‘paw’ or ‘come on.’ The word or phrase is up to you; what matters is that they can establish a connection between your verbal cue and the action of placing their paw on your hand. It’s essential that you say the cue before they raise their paws.

6. Treats out

At this point, you can start phasing out treats from your command. However, time is key in this process. You don’t remove treats right off the bat, but slowly over time. Evaluate when to remove treats by carefully observing their reaction.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reward them! Pet their back and play with them. After all, they’ve done an excellent job.

7. Change Time and Place

After your dog has successfully learned the ‘shake’ command, command them in a different context. You could do it on the streets or during a night walk in the park. Why? The idea is to reinforce that the command will always be the same regardless of the situation.

Despite your training, your dog might get confused about what to do. Don’t get frustrated! Repeat the steps we mentioned and they’ll get what they need to do. Your dog already grasps the command cue, so they’ll learn in no time!

8. It’s Time For a Challenge

Now that your dog has mastered the ‘shake’ command, you can finally switch hands during the command.

First, issue the ‘shake’ command with the hand you’ve been practicing all this time. After they’ve done it, use your other hand: if they use the same paw they used first, don’t reward them. Wait for them to use their other paw and reward them.

Don’t get desperate and use treats if the training takes too long. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that most dogs will reflexively use their other paw to shake hands. This challenge is purely optional, so don’t feel pressured to rehearse it.

Some Dogs Need More Time

Don’t get discouraged if your dog can’t learn this trick right away. Although dogs are intelligent species, some need more time to learn new things.

If your dog doesn’t recognize what the training is about, lift their paws yourself to their head’s height. However, don’t do it forcefully. Your dog might not be in the mood for training or just doesn’t want to do it. Always respect your dog’s feelings: enough is enough.


Your dog has finally mastered how to shake your hand. We advise you to keep on teaching more tricks not only for your amusement but for their entertainment too! Remember that your pets will get happy if you show them you’re delighted by what they do.

We hope these tips on how to teach a dog to shake have helped you!