How to Train a Shih Tzu to Shake Hands

Easy
1-4 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Imagine returning to your home with guests after a formal event. Your Shih Tzu hurries over to greet your guests. Your guests brace themselves, expecting your dog to jump onto their nice formal clothes, but to their surprise, your well-behaved little dog sits and reaches out a paw to 'shake' instead. One of your guests crouches down and gives your pup's paw a little shake. Her face lights up in a big smile and she compliments you on how charming and well behaved your dog is. You look at your dog, feeling proud. You appreciate the work that you have both put into her learning how to shake, and you appreciate your own cleverness, for coming up with the idea to use that trick to train polite greetings.

Defining Tasks

There are several great reasons to teach your dog how to shake. 'Shake' is an adorable trick to show off to friends. It is a great way to get your pup used to contact with people in a fun and rewarding way. It can prepare her for future harder tricks, such as  'limp' and can help to desensitize her to being touched on her paws for nail trims. It can stimulate her mentally by encouraging memorization, problem-solving, and social interaction. Finally, it is just plain fun!

If your pup is not comfortable being touched on her paws, then you may need to spend extra time getting her comfortable with being touched there before teaching this. To get her comfortable, you can simply touch her paw gently while giving her a treat. Repeat this with both paws several times a week, until she seems happy and relaxed when you touch her.

If your dog has ever shown any form of aggression, and especially if she does not like having her paws touched, then do not teach this trick on your own. Instead look for a qualified trainer in your area, who has experience in dealing with aggression. Work with the trainer first to treat her aggression and desensitize her to touch before attempting any tricks that involve physical contact.

Tricks should be fun for both of you. If you are getting frustrated, then simply take a break from training and come back to it later, when you are feeling happier. If your dog seems to be struggling, then she might need for you to stay on the current step for longer, or even go back one step and practice that for longer before moving onto the next step. She also might need to be praised and rewarded for attempts at the correct behavior, to help her figure out what it is she is supposed to be doing. If that is the case, then try breaking down the training even further for her and rewarding her for smaller steps toward the correct action. For example, if she is struggling to place her paw all the way into your hand during a step that calls for that, then try rewarding her for simply touching your hand with her paw first, and then gradually help her work up to placing it completely into your hand, by rewarding touches that are closer and closer to the correct spot, where she is supposed to place her paw. 

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats, that are easy to eat. Your dog will need to know the 'sit' command. You will need a calm location to teach this at, and you will need a positive and encouraging attitude, patience, and a willingness to have fun.

The Touch Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Call your dog
To begin, call your dog over to you and have her sit. Place a treat into your hand, close your hand, and place your hand in front of her paw.
Step
2
Add command
Tell her "shake", and let her explore your hand. When she paws at your hand to try to get the treat out, then praise her and open your hand, to allow her to eat the treat.
Step
3
Repeat
Repeat encouraging your pup to paw at your hand by placing a treat inside of it and putting your hand in front of her paw. Do this until she starts to reach for your hand as soon as it gets close to her, to get you to open your hand sooner.
Step
4
Empty your hand
When Fifi is reaching for your hand, then remove the treat from your hand and place your empty, closed hand in front of her paw, while telling her to 'shake'. When she paws at it, then praise her, open your hand, and then place a treat on the palm of your open hand with your free hand. Allow her to eat the treat from your hand.
Step
5
Repeat again
Repeat the process with your empty hand until your dog will consistently reach for your empty hand also.
Step
6
Open hand
When your pup will consistently reach for your empty hand, then repeat the process again, but this time when you place your hand in front of her paw, do not close your hand. Keep your hand open, as if you are going to shake hands with her. Do this while telling her "shake".
Step
7
Reward
When she places her paw onto your open hand, then praise her enthusiastically and give her five treats from your free hand, one treat at a time. Give her five treats the first three times that she places her paw into your open hand. After that give her only one treat whenever she does the trick.
Step
8
Practice
Practice with your pup until she can consistently place her paw into your open hand when you tell her to shake and offer your hand. When you get to this point, after she places her paw into your hand, give her paw a little shake before giving her the treat. When she will place her paw into your open hand when you tell her "shake", and tolerate you shaking it, then she has learned the trick. Congratulations on a job well done!
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The Hold Method

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Step
1
Get ready
To begin, grab treats that your dog likes. Call your pup over to you in a calm location and tell your pup to sit.
Step
2
Lift your dog's paw
Gently grab your pup's front paw and lift it slightly off of the floor. Tell your pup "shake" while you do this.
Step
3
Reward with a treat
When you lift your dog's paw, praise her and give her a treat.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat lifting Fifi's paw while telling her "shake", and praising and rewarding her when you do so. Do this until she begins to lift her paw on her own as soon as you touch it and tell her to 'shake'. The first time that she lifts it on her own, praise her enthusiastically and offer her five treats, one at a time, so that she will know that she did something special that time.
Step
5
Place a hand underneath
When your dog will consistently lift her paw on her own when you tell her to shake and barely touch her paw, then tell her "shake" and place your open hand right in front of her paw, so that it is barely touching the front of her paw. When you do this, when she lifts up her paw, quickly place your open hand underneath it without touching it, then wait until she lowers her paw onto your open hand. When she lowers her paw onto your open hand, praise her and offer her a treat.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat that process until she will consistently place her paw onto your open hand when you place it in front of her paw. As soon as she places her paw into your hand, regardless or whether or not you have placed your hand underneath her paw first, praise her and give her a treat.
Step
7
Add distance
When your pup will consistently place her paw into your hand when told to shake, begin to offer your hand one inch higher than it was before. Raise it by one inch every fifth time that you practice. Do this until you can offer your hand at about half the height of her leg, and she will lift her leg and place her paw into your open hand when told to 'shake'.
Recommend training method?

The Tickle Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Add command
To begin, have your dog sit in front of you in a calm location. Gently reach down and tickle the bottom of your pup's front paw, so that she lifts it slightly off of the floor. Do this while telling her "shake".
Step
2
Reward
As soon as your dog lifts her paw off of the floor, even slightly, then praise her and give her a treat.
Step
3
Repeat
Repeat tickling your pup's paw while telling her to 'shake'. Do this until she will lift her paw as soon as you tell her "shake" or reach toward her, but before you have tickled her.
Step
4
Phase out your touch
When your pup will lift her paw when you tell her "shake" or reach toward her, then completely phase out reaching toward her to tickle her. To do this, tell her to 'shake' and then wait seven seconds. After the seconds seconds are up, if she has not lifted her paw, then reach toward her. If she lifts her paw up during the seven seconds, then immediately praise her and give her a treat. Repeat giving her the command, waiting seven seconds, and then reaching for her, until she will consistently lift her paw up before you reach for her.
Step
5
Add your open hand
When Fifi will consistently lift her paw up when you tell her to shake, without you having to reach for her, then tell her "shake", and when she lifts her paw up, slip your open hand underneath her lifted paw, so that her paw rests on your hand. While her paw is on your hand, praise her and give her a treat.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat slipping your hand underneath her paw at least fifteen times. Only praise her and give her a treat when her paw is touching your hand.
Step
7
Repeat offering your hand
After at least fifteen repetitions of slipping your hand underneath her paw, then begin to place your open hand right in front of and slightly below her paw, so that your finger tips are barely touching just the bottom front part of her paw. Tell her "shake" while you do this, and then wait seven seconds to see if she will place her paw onto your hand on her own. If she does, praise her and give her a treat. If she does not, then after seven seconds have passed, move your hand underneath her paw, then praise her and offer her a treat. The first time that you do this she might be confused and lift her paw up and down, to try to earn her treat. Simply be patient and persistent, giving her a hint at the end of the seven seconds by placing your hand underneath her paw.
Step
8
Practice, practice, practice
Practice telling her to 'shake', placing your hand in front of her paw, waiting seven seconds, and then placing your hand underneath her paw if she needs a hint. Do this until she will consistently place her paw into your open hand when you tell her to shake and offer your hand. When she will consistently place her paw into your open hand when you tell her "shake" then she has learned the command. Congratulations on a job well done!
Recommend training method?

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