How to Teach a Dog to Shake? (best tips on what to do and what to avoid)

This is dog tricks 101. Teaching your dog to shake her paw and focus on your cue is a simple trick. Dogs tend to learn this trick quicker than most other tricks. But in rare cases, this may take days or even weeks. But rest assured, this technique is quick and easy to learn. And it’s extremely effective too.

What does it mean to learn how to teach a dog to shake? Well, it’s fun to look at, not to forget, it’s terribly adorable. It’s a good entertainer for when you have guests over. And you can make some pretty funny videos to share online. Or to store as memories for a few years later. 

So do this now before you teach your dog other fun and challenging tricks. This is so common and basic. As basic in the dog tricks world as teaching your dog to sit in the training world!

How To Teach A Dog to Shake

First things first, establish a good and calm environment while training. Teaching your dog tricks is trickier for your dog than you think. So eliminating all kinds of distractions is essential. Go back to your dog’s most comfortable space. Where she’s calm, focused, and in a good mood. 

It’s more common to teach your dog to shake in the seated position. So this means you need to know how to teach a dog to sit and stay before you can do this. 

Once you have this taken care of, let’s begin the training.

Step 1

Hold a tiny treat in one hand and present it to your dog. Make sure she’s sitting and staying while she looks at you. Allow her to sniff or (as I like to call it “nose”) the treat. Don’t let her eat the treat out of your hand before you can train her.

Now, tell her to stay and with your other hand gently nudge the back of her forearm. The most effective place to get her to lift her paw off the floor is behind the elbow. Tap the elbow gently until your dog lifts that forearm off the floor. 

Step 2 

As soon as she lifts her forearm for the first time, reward her with a treat. Don’t forget to say “good girl” or “that’s such a good job.” When she does this for the second time, use the term “paw” to get things started.

Give her a pat on her head and do this a few more times. Make sure she has her full attention on your hand with the treat in it. 

Step 3

This is a tricky but important step. Once you have her attention, lift the “treat” hand a bit higher. Probably on the same level as the dog’s nose. But make sure it’s nowhere close to your dog’s nose. 

Now you may not have to tap the back of her elbow for her to lift her paw. Just say the word “paw” and she’ll lift it right up. But this time, you want her to reach for your “treat” hand. It’s a bit higher but a few practices run and she will get it.

Until your dog lifts her paw high enough to resemble a handshake, don’t give her a treat. Use the word “shake” once she gets it right a few times. You can even stay with her paw in your hand for a few seconds. And reward her with a “good girl” and a treat to get her to stay in that shake for a while.

What Not to Do


As easy as it is to learn how to teach a dog to shake. It’s just as easy to mess it up. Introducing a new trick into your dog’s life is challenging. It’s not like getting up early to go for a walk every day, for humans. It requires a lot more dedication and patience for a dog to learn a new trick.

So don’t do the following things if you want to teach your dog a few tricks successfully.

Don’t scream or hit

Some dog hears the term “bad dog” or “no” more often than their own names. Positive reinforcement is a good way to teach a dog anything. Do it for long enough and your dog will learn. There’s no doubt about it. 

Yelling at your dog does nothing but causes mental anguish to your dog. It has long-term negative mental health effects. 

Dog experts say that a bad habit can gradually be turned into a good one. That’s when your skills as a patient and compassionate pet parent come into the picture. If you sense the frustration in your dog and aversion, that’s a good start. Because dogs learn through that frustration. It’s an ice-breaker!

So use your words wisely. And always maintain a calm and composed body posture. No matter how difficult or stubborn your dog is. These things take time. Even if it’s as simple as teaching your dog to shake or sit.

Never abandon the training

If you think you’re not fit or patient enough, hire a professional. Vet that professional by observing how they train other dogs. Are they calm? Are they aggressive? What methods do they use while training your dog? 

If your trainer recommends using punishment collars or shock collars, stay away! Your dog will never learn through punishment as that leads to anxiety and fear

Do you want your dog to listen to you out of love or fear? Ask yourself that the next time you think of punishing your dog for not doing something right.


You can eventually phase out the treat and stick to praises. As you can see, teaching your dog to shake is simple. It’s a good practice for your dog to keep her mind and body stimulated. And it’s another excellent way for her to bond with you. And vice versa. 

Dogs may lead a very boring domestic life without such tricks. By indulging in such activities, your dog spends a good part of the day active and energetic. But remember, it’s a process and not a competition. 

If you find yourself becoming too frustrated or hurried with your training. Take a step back, give your dog a break, and then finish the training lesson. And regardless of the training being successful, always be positive. This may not mean you give your dog a treat but be nice and compassionate. It works wonders!

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