Hi everyone,

I've been trying to teach Maggie (8 years old) to shake paws but she doesn't seem to get it (or else she is too stubborn to listen to me!). I crouch down to her level, tell her to sit, and say "Shake" as I move her right paw up and down. I give her a little piece of carrot or biscuit as I'm shaking her paw. I've also tried with her left paw, but maybe that's been confusing her. Sometimes I move the carrot close to her paw as I'm shaking it, repeating "Shake" as I'm doing it. Does anyone have any tips??!



Leslie (Maggie Moo's guardian)

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Be patient, it sounds like you are doing it right. After the sit take the paw and say shake. Give the treat from your other hand. It is funny with training they will suddenly just "get it". Saying shake to mine causes them to immediately lift a paw...and drool

How long have you been trying to teach her the trick?  And how often do you have your training "sessions?"  I've found that frequent, shorter sessions tend to work best.  Also, try not to get frustrated as she might pick up on it and not want to perform for you at all. 


One trick that I used on an "older" dog, years ago, was to use a treat that he went absolutely nuts over (which was bits of cheese, for him) and close my hand around it.  He'd get so excited and impatient that he would eventually paw at my hand.  I would quickly say "shake" in a happy voice and praise him, then give him a small bit of cheese.  Eventually he had to sit and touch just once with his paw, and then offer his paw into my open hand for a proper shake. 


Good luck!

I taught both my dogs by putting them in a sit and then holding a piece of treat tightly in my hand. Any time they attempted to paw at my hand to get the treat they got a YES! and a treat. I like using a clicker for this type of training because I think it's easier to shape the behavior they're offering you.
Keep at it. As long as you are consistant.
I teach dogs to shake by holding a treat in my right hand, touching their paw with my left hand--sort of a little finger push on the top of the foot-- and when they move the paw, i give the treat.  This method works with cats, too!

I would modify it slightly.  Once you've taken the paw a few times while saying "Shake", the next step is to change to saying "shake" first while you hold out your hand.  If they pick up the paw even a little, say "Yes!" or "Good!" and treat.  But the key is that the next time you expect a little more movement.  Say "Shake" again and as the paw moves, keep say "shake" again in an encouraging way and see if you get more movement.  If not you can pick up the paw again and say "yes" and treat.  The idea is you give them the opportunity to move the paw on their own.   And when she gets it right, make a HUGE deal of it and stop right there, run off and get several yummy treats while you praise her excitedly.  I have on occasion frustrated my dogs by asking for "just one more" try once they've gotten something right.  They think "If it was right, I wouldn't be asked again, so let me try something different instead" and un-learn it so I have to start over.  So when she does get it mostly right, quit for the day, give it a day or two to sink in, then go back to it again.

Good luck.    Only do three or four repetitions per training session and always end up with something she does well, even if it's just "sit", to end on a happy note.

Thanks everyone for the tips!! I'm still working with her and she has started to lifter her paw a little. Note - if I put the treat close to her paw, she doesn't try to reach for it with her paw...she always uses her mouth/nose to try to get it! So we are making progress...

I've always had good luck just gently rapping the dog's knuckles with my fingertips and saying "shake". They usually lift their foot. Take the foot and give them a treat. It has never taken long to teach them. Obviously, you don't hit them hard with your fingers. Rocky learned to shake just by watching Rosie do it. She's a bit older than he is and she learned to shake before we got him. She was doing her tricks and he was watching. It wasn't long and he was shaking for treats also!! They are smart little devils!!



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