How to Train Your Dog to Give Paw

Easy
2-3 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Teaching your dog to give his paw for a good shake is a fun trick. 'Give me your paw' is a trick that most dogs learn fairly quickly and probably one of the most common things people will ask your dog to do when they meet and greet him. It will not take long to teach your dog to offer his paw or to give his paw when asked for a shake anytime he meets someone. You can teach your dog to give his paw when he is asked, or you can even teach him to automatically put his paw up for a good firm shake anytime he meets a new person. Either way, the 'give me your paw' command is definitely a fun and common dog trick. This one is pretty easy, so have fun with it. Once your dog knows how to give his paw, you get to sit back and watch everyone ask for it and then smile at how incredibly smart and talented your dog is.

Defining Tasks

The 'give me your paw' trick is easy. However, you will want your dog to know basic obedience commands first. Teach your dog to sit first, so he is in proper position to offer his paw for a good shake. You might want to be prepared to teach your dog different commands for the trick. Some people may ask, ‘give me your paw,’ and some people may use the word ‘shake.’ You’ll want your dog to know both commands mean the same thing. Because this is a fairly easy command, keep your sessions short, and visit with your dog often to practice. You can teach any dog at any age to shake his paw with someone, however starting young is often the easiest.

Getting Started

Be prepared with lots of tasty treats while training your dog to give his paw. Other than delicious treats for rewards, you just need time and patience. Training you dog to give his paw will take several small sessions rather than one long session. Just be prepared for consistent training.

The Tap His Paw Method

ribbon-method-3
Most Recommended
5 Votes
Step
1
Sit
Put your dog in a sit position and offer him a treat. This lets him know you have treats and he can earn them.
Step
2
Tap
Gently tap the back of his paw just below his dew claw.
Step
3
Reaction
Your dog will react to your tap in some way. He may look down at you and sniff your hand or he may pick up his paw and move away from your tapping finger.
Step
4
Shake
As your dog's paw moves away from your hand, gently pick it up and say the word 'Shake.'
Step
5
Praise and treats
Give him verbal praise and a reward for a job well done.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat these actions until your dog no longer needs the tap on the back of his paw and responds to only the commands 'shake' or 'give me your paw' by lifting up his paw and putting it in your hand. Always be sure to reward your dog each time he is successful.
Recommend training method?

The Make Him Think Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
3 Votes
Step
1
Sit
Ask your dog to sit and offer him a treat once he does. This puts them in the proper position to shake as well as lets him know that you have treats on hand that he can work for.
Step
2
Empty hand
Hold out an empty hand with your palm facing up level with your dog's chest.
Step
3
Sniff
Your dog may sniff your hand or even lick your hand, but make him wait and think about why your hand is where it is.
Step
4
Wait
Keep your hand open waiting for a different reaction besides sniffing or licking from your dog. He will eventually become curious and lift his paw up to touch your hand.
Step
5
Reward
As soon as your dog lifts his paw, even if he doesn't touch your hand, praise him and offer him a treat.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat this several times until each time you hold your hand out, your dog lifts his paw rather than sniffs or licks your hand first.
Step
7
Command
Begin to use the 'shake' or 'give me your paw' command each time you put your hand palm up near your dog.
Step
8
Practice
Practice this several times a day until your dog knows the command and the action that goes with the command. Each time you say 'shake' or 'give me your paw,' your dog should lift his paw and put it in your hand. Be sure to reward him each time for a job well done.
Recommend training method?

The Give Me Your Paw Method

ribbon-method-1
Least Recommended
3 Votes
Step
1
Stand and sit
Stand in front of your dog and ask him to sit. Be sure to give him a treat for obeying. If your dog does not immediately sit when asked, be sure to revisit basic obedience commands before teaching him to give his paw.
Step
2
Treat in fist
With a treat hidden inside one hand, close your hand and show him your fist so he can smell the treats but not take it from you.
Step
3
Command
Say the words, 'give me your paw,' and move your fist under your dog's nose so he can smell the treat.
Step
4
Dig with paw
Your dog will want to get to the treat so allow him to paw or dig at your hand waiting for you to open it so he can eat the treat.
Step
5
Reward
Once your dog paws at your hand, give him the treat and verbal praise.
Step
6
Practice
Practice this several times over small training sessions until your dog understands when you use the command, 'give me your paw,' he is supposed to put his paw in your hand.
Step
7
Open hand
Once your dog has the command and the action down, stop using a treat inside your fist and open your hand for a good hand to paw shake. At this point, you should be able to use the command 'give me your paw' and expect your dog to shake. Once your dog is successful, offer him a treat, but do not keep one hidden inside your hand once he is at this level.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/10/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Orie
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months
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Question
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Orie
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months

Hi! My 3 months old miniature schnauzer nips very hard and thinks our hands are toys. Is there anyway to stop this habit or prevent her from nipping so hard?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ron, Check out the article linked below. I recommend using both the Leave It and Bite Inhibition method. Leave It will take practice to teach so you can use the Bite Inhibition method until pup knows Leave It well. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, work on getting puppy used to touch and handling. Use puppy’s daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of puppy's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Finally, when pup is overly excited and biting a lot, pup may actually be over tired. I recommend giving pup a dog food stuffed chew toy and having pup rest in a crate or exercise pen with the toy for a bit. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Trudy
Boxer
10 Weeks
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Question
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Trudy
Boxer
10 Weeks

Hello

I have two 10 weeks old puppy’s one will give you her paw when asked the other one won’t is that normal ?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
240 Dog owners recommended

Hi. Yes that is completely normal. All dogs learn differently and have different sets of skills. Often when a dog can't give a paw it's due to lack of balance or coordination. As this puppy grows, it will likely give paw no problem!

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Question
Enzo
Beagle Terrier (Teagle/Jackabee)
12 Weeks
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Question
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Enzo
Beagle Terrier (Teagle/Jackabee)
12 Weeks

I am trying to teach Enzo ‘paw’ I have tried multiple different ways to do so, holding a fist of treats above him for example which he is meant to paw to try and get doesn’t work.Tickling the backs of his feet/leg to give paw, holding treats doesn’t work and even picking up his paw and rewarding with a treat with the command isn’t working. So I’m confused and out of options to try to teach him paw, any help or suggestions would be much appreciated thank you.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, keep up the good work! Train Enzo in short sessions of 5 minutes per day and always work on training after he has had a good exercise session. It will help him to concentrate. Try this guide on giving a high five; it is similar to give paw and may give you a different angle to try than the instructions in the Give Paw guide where you posed the question. https://wagwalking.com/training/high-five. Not all dogs like to have their paws touched so using incentive is the best way. Have Enzo sit. Make a fist with an aromatic high value treat in your hand. Hold your hand at nose level. Enzo may paw at your hand on his own and when he does, say "Yes!" and give him the treat. Work on this a few times. As he gets used to doing it, include the command "High Five!" as he moves toward the hand. End with "Yes!" and the treat. Reward him with the high value treat every time. Soon you should be able to hold an open hand and get the same result. Remember to end every training session on a high note, meaning stop the session before little Enzo loses interest and train again the next day. Good luck and have fun!

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Question
Curry
Bichon Frise and mini poodle
2 Years
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Question
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Curry
Bichon Frise and mini poodle
2 Years

He doesn't lift up his paw.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, since the Give Paw instructions given on the site page where you entered the question do not do the trick, try working on the High Five as described here: https://wagwalking.com/training/high-five. The Help Lift Paw Method may do the trick! Try the training sessions for just 5-10 minutes a day so that Curry does not get tired of the training and discouraged from working with you next time. Remember even a small victory of gaining a step forward in the task is worth praise and a treat. Good luck and happy training!

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Question
Martini
Maltese
3 Years
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Martini
Maltese
3 Years

We have tried all the above methods to make my dog give me his paw but nothing seems to work he just stares at me
And secondly when he’s near other dog he has no control, he barks and barks and won’t stop and I don’t know how to control him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Linara, I suggest a different approach. With pup sitting in front of you, tap the back of pup's front paw until they light it slightly off the ground, while happily saying "Paw or Shake". As soon as they move it at all, praise enthusiastically and reward with a treat. Repeat this until pup starts to lift the paw all the way off the ground - then reward. When pup is lifting the paw up, require pup to lift it higher before rewarding with a treat. Continue to praise for attempts though. When pup will lift the paw a couple of inches off the ground when you tap and say shake, start to tell pup to Shake, then wait seven seconds, then tap to remind pup if they don't lift on their own. Do this until pup starts to lift the paw consistently without needing the tap a few seconds later. When pup can lift when you say paw, place your hand under their paw when they lift it, praise and reward right when their paw touches your hand - even though you caused it to. Repeat. Next, place your hand slightly below where pup's lifted paw is, wait until pup lowers their paw a bit - accidentally touching your hand on their own (by accident on their part at first), as soon as pup touches your hand on their own because your hand was under the paw, praise and reward. Repeat until pup starts to intentionally touch your hand because they are associating it with the treat being given. When pup starts to understand that touching your hand is what earns them the treat, wait until pup puts their paw all the way into your hand, rather than just touching it slightly, before you reward. Practice this often for lots of short training sessions frequently, rather than fewer long ones to help pup focus and not get as distracted during training. Expect this to take several days or weeks to teach, not just one or two sessions. For the barking, I recommend desensitizing pup to the other dogs. Check out the video and youtube channel I have linked below for examples of desensitizing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo-L2qtD7MQ&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=7 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n_fPKPLA2g&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=12 Desensitize method and Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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