Imagine that it is spring time. The weather is turning warmer, the birds are singing, the grass is growing again, and with spring comes spring showers. You let your Shih Tzu outside for a little while after a morning shower when the sun reappears. When you start to let him back inside you notice that his normally white paws have turned brown from all of the mud outside. You tell him to sit and go grab a hand towel. When you return you tell him "Paw", and he obediently lifts up a paw to let you wipe it off. After a few minutes of wiping him off, he is clean enough to come back inside again without leaving brown paw prints every all over your home.
Teaching your pup how to give a paw can be very useful. It can be a fun trick to show off to friends, a convenient way to get your pup to cooperate for nail trimmings and paw cleanings, and a great command to give your pup during greetings, so that he will shake hands with your guests instead of jump on them.
Teaching your dog how to give a paw is pretty simple. Expect it to take between two to six weeks to teach him. If your pup does not like having his paws touched then this can be a great trick to teach, to familiarize him with being touched in a positive way. Before you teach him 'paw' though, you will need to first spend extra time simply getting him used to being touched. To do this, gently touch his paws, one at a time, while feeding him treats. Do that until he is comfortable having his paws touched, before moving onto teaching him to give paw. If your dog does not like having his paws touched then it will be less stressful for him if you use 'The Lure Method' to train this, rather than 'The Grab Method' or 'The Touch Method'.
Remember to be gentle while teaching your pup this trick. Many dogs are sensitive about their paws, so when you tap, grab, or hold his paw do so gently so that he will feel confident about giving you his paw again in the future. This should be a fun trick for both you and your dog. Try to have fun while teaching this and your dog will probably enjoy it more too.
To teach this, your dog will need to know how to sit when told to. You can also lure him into the sitting position each time that you practice this trick, but doing that instead will make the trick take longer to train typically. Once your pup knows the trick then you can ask him to do it while in the standing position also, but it will be easier for him to initially learn it in the sitting position because he will be better balanced and therefore more willing to lift his paw up.
To get started you will need lots of small treats that your dog likes. If you are using 'The Lure Method' then those treats will need to be something that smells really good to your dog. For all of the methods, your pup will need to know how to sit when told to, or you will need to be able to lure him into a sitting position each time that you practice this trick. You will need a calm location to practice this in, two free hands, good timing, and a positive attitude and willingness to have fun training.