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Some have referred to shaking hands as the "Butt sniff of the canine world." To a human, you can tell a lot by the quality of a person's handshake. We notice things like strength of grip, how sweaty it is, and how long the other person holds the shake. Not really that much in comparison to what a dog can tell by sniffing the derriere of another pup.
At the same time, a good handshake can be seen as a sign of an intelligent and polite dog. It is also one of the first tricks the average dog owner tries to teach their dog once he has mastered the basic commands. In general, it is pretty easy to teach and in most cases, can be taught in a few days.
The concept itself is relatively simple: you say "shake" and your pup lifts one of his paws up so that you can take it and shake hands with him. Instead of grabbing his paw, lifting it, and expecting your pup to know what's going on just because you are making him do it, what you really need to do is teach your dog to lift his paw on his own.
You can do this in several ways, but before getting started, you need to choose your cue word. You can use virtually any word. "Shake" is the most commonly used, but you can use anything. The big trick is no matter what cue word you choose, you need to remain consistent during training and afterward. You also need to make sure everyone else is on board with the same cue word.
While it will be much easier if your pup has been taught the four basic commands, 'sit', 'stay', 'come', and 'down', as long as your pup will sit on command, you can teach him to shake. This is because it is much easier for your pup to perform the shake trick when he doesn't need all four legs to stand on. For this trick, you won't need much in the way of supplies. Here is the list of things you will need:
- Treats: To use as rewards and for training.
- Patience: As with most types of training, you will need lots of this.
- Time: You can teach this trick in just 5 minutes a day over the course of a couple of weeks.
The big thing here is that Chihuahuas are more stubborn than many other breeds. While they are eager to please, it can take a little longer to train your Chi to shake, but the fun you have showing it off is more than worth.
The Paw Lift Method
Kneel down on the floor in front of your pup and have him sit.
Choose your cue word
You can use "Shake" or virtually any word in the world, just be sure to stick to the same one every time.
Lift a paw
Take one of your pet's front paws in your hand and gently lift it while introducing the cue word to him. Lower his paw to the ground, give him a treat and praise him.
Repeat this several times in a five-minute training session two or three times a day. It should only take a few days of repeat training before your pup will lift his paw up without your help when you give him the cue word. When he does, be sure to praise him and give a treat.
The only thing left, is to slowly wean him off the treats. Start out slowly by eliminating a treat every 4 or 5 shakes. Then go to every 5 to 8, and so forth until you can tell your pup to shake and he will lift his paw expecting no more than a simple "Good boy!"
The Closed Fist Treat Method
Place your pup in the 'sit' position.
Show the treat
Hold a treat in one hand and let your pup see and sniff it. Do not let him have it. Close the treat in a fist and hold it out in front of your pup about 2 inches off the ground. If your pup tries to get up, have him sit again.
The paw lift
If your pup shows any signs of trying to lift a paw, including shifting his weight, praise him and let him have his treat. The average dog will bat at the hand with the treat in it. If your pup does this, be sure to praise him and give him the treat.
Hold out your hand
While you are working on the step above, hold out the other hand palm up and flat. This is so you can grab his paw if and when he lifts it. Be sure to praise and reward him when he does.
Add the cue
Once your pup has demonstrated his willingness to lift his paw for the treat, add the cue word as you offer him the treat. Continue working with your pup until he will "shake hands" with you on demand without the need for a treat.
The Paw Tap Method
Call your pup over to you and have him sit.
Using your index finger, lightly tap one of your pup's front paws just under the dew claw.
Depending on your dog, he might lift his paw immediately or you may have to apply a little more pressure or repeated taps to make this happen.
The moment he starts to lift his paw, slide your hand under it and pick up his paw. Give him lots of praise and a treat.
Repeat and add cue word
Repeat this training and introduce the cue word "Shake." Each time he does what he is told, praise him and give him a treat. Keep working with him until he will lift his paw on command and then slowly wean him off the treats.
By PB Getz
Published: 12/15/2017, edited: 01/08/2021