How to Teach a Dog to Shake – Train Your Pup in a Day!
by Jessi Larson
Training your dog to shake is a fun trick that strengthens your bond and makes for some adorable meetings. This guide will show you how to teach a dog to shake in no time!
Of all the tricks to teach your dog, this is one of the easier ones. In fact, with this guide, many dogs will learn the skill in only one day.
It’s been years since we taught our dog Toby how to shake, and we still ask him to do the trick almost every day. We’ve found it’s a great way to get him to calm down and focus.
He gets a KONG with peanut butter as a treat every afternoon, but first we ask him to sit and shake before we give it to him.
This is a great skill for any dog to learn. We’ll show you how to teach a dog to shake in 8 unbelievably easy steps.
Training Guide: How to Teach a Dog to Shake
Training a dog to shake hands is a relatively fast and easy command that requires very few tools and prerequisites.
If you want to learn how to teach a dog to shake, follow these simple steps and guidelines. With a little bit of patience and encouragement, your dog will be excited and eager to show off this classic trick!
What You’ll Need To Get Started
While teaching your dog to shake is pretty straightforward, it is necessary for your dog to be comfortable with the “sit” command first.
If you’re finding that your pup is just too restless or fidgety during this process, try spending some time polishing the “sit” command before moving forward with shaking.
The only other things you’ll need are your dog’s favorite treats. Whatever you choose, try to keep it nutritional and bite-sized so you don’t overfeed your pup.
The other reason we recommend bite-sized treats is so your dog can chew them up quickly, otherwise you’ll just spend most of your “training” time watching your pal eat.
We love Zuke’s Mini Naturals as a training treat. They’re healthy and small in size, so you can give them to your dog over and over again as you work on how to teach a dog to shake.
And if you’re using a clicker to train your dog, this is the perfect time to use it!
Time and Frequency
There technically isn’t any “right” time to teach your dog to shake, but if your pup is less than motivated to humor you with tricks, it can be helpful to do the training while they are hungry. Otherwise, your dog may not be very enthusiastic about the treat reward.
When teaching your dog to shake, it’s important to keep the training sessions short and sweet. Aim for about five minutes per day, with a 10 minute maximum.
This will ensure both you and your dog make it through the training without getting tired or frustrated.
It’s also important that you try to end each session on a happy note. Even if your pup struggles with the new command, go back to an older or easier trick and offer a reward for getting it right.
How to Teach Your Dog to Shake
Now that you and your pup are ready for the “shake” command, it’s time to get started. Be sure to have plenty of treats and your clicker (if you are using one) on hand.
Here are the steps for how to teach your dog to shake:
1. Get Your Dog to a Sitting Position
Again, this is assuming your dog is comfortable holding the sitting position. If that isn’t the case, work on sitting first and then try again.
2. Offer Your Hand
There are a couple ways to approach this step, and the best one for you will largely depend on your dog’s personality and your preference.
You can either hold your hand out without giving any signal or verbal cue. Just wait for your dog to react.
At first, your pup might try a few different actions, such as licking or smelling your hand, but eventually they will raise their paw to your hand.
However, if you find that your hand alone doesn’t keep your dog’s attention or motivate any action, try showing your dog a treat and then clasping it in your hand.
Offer your (closed) hand to your dog until they try to get the treat with a paw.
3. Give an Immediate Reward
When your pup raises a paw to your hand, immediately offer praise and a treat or click.
Even if your dog hasn’t achieved a full shake, you should reward any action that involves lifting a paw.
This is true even if your dog simply shifts weight onto the other side and starts the process of raising a paw.
4. Extend the “Shake” Time
Slowly, you want to increase the amount of time your dog keeps their paw in your hand. This will ensure that you’re not teaching your dog to simply paw at your hand and makes it clear what you want the behavior to look like.
Keep offering rewards, but only after the dog has completed the full shake.
5. Add a Verbal Cue
When your dog is able to repeat the shake process consistently, it’s time to add the verbal cue. This can be “shake,” “paw” or whatever you want the signaling word to be.
Add this cue when you hold your hand out, before your dog offers a paw. Do it enough times to solidify this word as a cue for the shaking behavior.
6. Training on the Opposite Paw
When you’re satisfied on one side, you can also teach your dog to shake with the opposite paw.
To do this, you may need to repeat the same process. Oftentimes, dogs will shake with the paw closest to your hand, so you may try offering your opposite hand and placing it closer to your dog’s other paw.
7. Adding Distractions
When you’re confident that your dog has mastered the “shake” command, it’s time to try the trick outside of the comfort of your home.
Try making this command more difficult by slowly adding distractions, building up from minuscule to large.
8. Eliminate The Treat
After your dog is comfortable with the command, you will want to slowly eliminate the treat from this process.
Be sure to keep offering your pup plenty of praise and affection for getting the shake right.
Final Thoughts on How to Teach Your Dog to Shake
We hope following these steps will help you understand how to teach your dog to shake.
As you focus on how to teach your dog to shake, always make sure you’re providing plenty of rewards and praise and keep the trainings short and sweet.
Depending on your dog’s personality, this trick may come very easily or take some time and patience. Just be sure to stay sensitive to your dog’s needs and avoid punishment or chastising if the training doesn’t go according to plan.
With a bit of time and practice, your dog will be shaking hands left and right!
Watch a Training Video
As you learn how to teach your dog to shake, sometimes it helps to see the process enacted.
Dog trainer Zak George offers positive, fun and informational training videos on a wide range of topics, including how to teach your dog to shake.
If you want to see the process in action, take a look at this video. It’s another great resource on how to quickly teach your dog to shake.
Bonus Training Tip
As you work on how to teach your dog to shake, you may get frustrated at times – and that’s totally normal.
Training a dog requires patience, persistence and consistency. If you feel like you’re not making progress and getting frustrated, take a time out. Breathe deep and count to 10. This will help you feel refreshed and ready to start again.
The goal is to continually and clearly communicate your expectations in a calm but confident manner. This sends a strong message to your dog about what you want them to do and how they need to act.
Dogs can sense if you’re hyper or angry, so taking a few moments to center yourself will make the training process much easier.
Top Dog Training Books
Figuring out how to teach a dog to shake is just one small part of the overall training process.
When you train a new dog, it provides a solid foundation on how they should behave for the rest of their life.
The more education you can get, the better. That’s why we also recommend the books below if you’re looking for additional support.
Remember, hard work in the beginning will make your life easier for years to come!
1. Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution
We shared Zak George’s video on how to teach a dog to shake. If you liked this dog trainer’s style, he’s got even more great advice in his book Dog Training Revolution.
This complete guide to raising your dog brings an inventive approach to the subject matter that will keep you engaged.
The book The Art of Raising a Puppy includes invaluable information and advice every dog owner should know.
We read this book when we first got Toby and highly recommend it! It’s a classic for a reason.
House training a dog is exhausting. And frustrating. And messy.
The book How to Housebreak Your Dog in 7 Days teaches you infallible methods that will help housebreak your pup and make life so much easier for you.
We purchased 101 Dog Tricks for our dog Toby a number of years ago. He had learned basic commands and we were looking for other ways to keep him mentally stimulated.
Dogs are super smart creatures, and teaching them new tricks is great for their mental and physical health. Plus, you can bond with your pup in the process.
If you have children in your home, Puppy Training for Kids serves as a great introduction to caring for a dog.
They’ll understand all the responsibilities involved with owning a dog and help you in the training process.
Our guide to how to teach a dog to shake is designed to help you quickly and effectively teach your dog this quintessential skill.
Training your dog to shake is a great way to bond with your pup, challenge them mentally and promote good behavior.
Also, if you have a new dog and are looking for additional resources, don’t forget to check out our puppy guide. Good luck!