How to Train a Golden Retriever to Shake

Easy
2-4 Days
Fun

Introduction

Who says blondes are dumb? Your Golden Retriever is regularly on the top 10 list of intelligent, trainable dogs! Golden Retrievers are smart, motivated, people pleasers and are easy to train to do tricks. Training your Golden to greet friends and family by shaking a paw is an easy and charming trick. Because it is relatively simple to train, it is a good starting point that can lead to more complex tricks and behaviors. Your lovable pooch will be the friendly favorite at any gathering with the shake a paw trick. Just try to make sure he didn’t go thru a swamp or play in the mud first, or this trick can be pretty messy!

Defining Tasks

Your Golden Retriever can learn to shake a paw relatively easily, as putting their paws on things is a common way for dogs, including Retrievers, to get your attention or investigate people and things. Shaping this pawing behavior so that it occurs on command and in a controlled manner, makes for a cute trick.  You will want 'shake' to occur when you command, and then stop once the trick is performed--nobody wants a big Golden Retriever with dirty paws or sharp claws continually pawing at them for attention when not asked.  Make sure your dog understands that he is rewarded for performing the trick when asked, and not rewarded when not directed.

Usually, this trick is performed with your dog starting in a sitting position, raising a front paw, placing it in your hand and vigorously pumping it up and down, then returning his paw to the ground. A treat or praise is customarily provided to reward this fun trick.

Getting Started

This is a very simple trick, and can easily be learned with minimal setup. Using treats to reinforce the behavior is always appreciated by your food-loving Golden!  Many owners also use a clicker to help shape the behavior and this method is very effective with Golden Retrievers, who pick up on clicker training readily.

The Shape with Lure Method

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Step
1
Set up for 'sit'
Ask your Golden Retriever to sit in front of you. Bend down and hold a treat in your closed hand in front of him. Have other treats in a pocket or pouch within easy reach.
Step
2
Wait for paw movement
Your dog will sniff and investigate your closed hand. Eventually he will try to paw at your hand. If your dog stands up, ask him to sit again, wait until he lifts his paw, even a few inches, then click and provide the treat.
Step
3
Reinforce paw lifting
Continue clicking and treating for approximations of lifting up his paw. Require your Golden to lift his paw up more and more on each successive try, until your dog learns that lifting his paw while sitting results in getting a treat.
Step
4
Add 'shake' command
Now hold one hand out with the treat and the other hand out flat and say “shake”. When your Golden Retriever lifts his paw for his treat, take his paw with your flat hand and pump his front leg up and down a couple of times, then release and provide the treat.
Step
5
Establish command
Continue practicing until your Golden learns that saying “shake” and presenting a flat outstretched hand is the signal to put his paw in your hand. Gradually phase out treats and provide praise instead.
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The Wait for Shake Method

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Step
1
Extend hand to dog
Hold out your hand at the level of your dog's knee and wait.
Step
2
Wait for paw
Your Golden will probably sniff, lick, and investigate your hand. Just wait patiently, eventually he will try to paw your hand to get attention. When he does, say “good dog” and provide a treat.
Step
3
Add command
Continue practicing until your dog gets the hang of lifting his paw to touch your hand. When he does, add the command “shake” and continue to say “good” and provide a treat.
Step
4
Raise hand level
Gradually lift your hand higher, and start taking his paw and shaking it while saying “shake". Continue providing treats and saying "good" when your Golden responds.
Step
5
Replace treats with praise
Gradually reduce the number of treats provided. Continue to praise your dog but only provide treats sporadically.
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The Guide to Shake Method

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Step
1
Tap your dog's paw
Have your Golden sit in front of you and tap lightly on the back of your dog's paw with your finger, just under his dew claw.
Step
2
Take paw
When your dog moves his paw away from the pressure, sweep his paw up in your hand and pick it up.
Step
3
Reinforce movement
Say "good" and provide a treat. Practice repeatedly.
Step
4
Add command
Start adding the command “shake” when you sweep up your dog’s paw. Continue to reinforce.
Step
5
Reward trick
Provide the 'shake' command and wait for your dog to anticipate you by lifting his paw up to your hand. When he does, throw a big treat party with lots of praise! Now practice with the other paw.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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