How to teach a dog to give paw

One of the most common and easiest tricks for a dog to learn is to give paw. Furthermore, it is a fun trick to show off to your friends and family when they visit. So, how do you teach a dog to give paw?

One of the things I was excited about when I got my first dog was all the fun tricks I would teach him. From spinning to playing dead to lying down, I could not wait to be a dog mom.

Giving paw, also known as shake, is one of those fun dog tricks that my dog learned in a short time. At first, my dog did not like it when I touched his paws, but soon, she got accustomed to it. Here is how to teach a dog to give paw.

dog with paw touching human hand

Prep for training

Giving paw is best learned when the dog is in a sitting position. When the dog is sitting, his weight is in his rear, making it easier for him to lift his paw comfortably. Later on, you may teach your dog to give paw while he is lying down or even standing up. 

Make sure your dog sits on command. It is also best if you cut your dog’s nails to prevent him from scratching you or your guests as he gives paw. Once he masters sitting down, get ready with a bag of his favorite treats for the next step.

Introduce ‘give paw’ command

You may prefer to teach your dog different commands for the trick. Whether it is ‘give me your paw’ or ‘shake,’ make sure your dog learns that both commands mean the same thing.

Keep your practice sessions short and frequent since it is a fairly easy trick to learn. Start with placing a delicious treat in your hand, and ask him to ‘sit.’

Show him the treat in your hand and that he can have them. Tap his paw and watch his reaction. Gently pick up his leg and utter the command ‘shake.’

Proceed to praise him and give him a treat for a job well done. Consistently repeat these steps and do not forget to reward him every time he is successful and responsive to the command.

Keep your sessions short to ensure he is always giving you his full attention.

Doberman Pinscher givng paw


Have your dog sit in a comfortable spot and hold a treat in one hand. Show him the treat in your hand and wave this closed fist under its nose to capture his attention.

He will also proceed to lick, sniff, or dig in your hand for the treat.

The moment your dog touches your hand with its paw or even lifts his leg, praise him and give him the delicious treat. Use the command ‘shake’ or ‘give paw’ every time you put your hand close to his chest or nose.

Practice makes perfect

A good ‘give paw’ training session entails repetition, positive reinforcement, and affection. If you get frustrated, your dog will notice and he too will begin getting agitated.

Do not scold or yell at your dog when he does not do as you want. 

Practice this fun trick several times a day. Hold your dog’s paw for at least five minutes, two or three times a day. Before you know it, your dog will be giving you its paw, even before you ask him.

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Hold back the treats

Once your dog gives you its paw upon command, begin stopping to hold a treat in your hand. Praise them with affection and hugs whenever they comply rather than handing them a treat.

Start by testing if he responds to the command without having to give him the treat. However, from time to time, reinforce the behavior to continue motivating him and to keep the trick fun for him as well.

Otherwise, put your hand out and say ‘shake’ without holding a treat inside that hand. As soon as he gives you his paw, give him the treat with your other hand.

Repeat this severally. If your dog shows confusion, go back, and repeat a step or two in your training. Once your dog has fully learned the trick, reinforce the exercising by asking someone else to ask your dog to ‘give paw.’

Final word

Teaching your dog is fun and easy to learn trick. It also helps in stopping your dog from jumping up whenever they meet new people.

In the process, you will also bond and build a stronger relationship with your dog. With love, patience, and perseverance, your dog will undoubtedly learn this fun trick in no time.

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