One of the many exciting pieces of training, yet the most common cue that you would teach your dog, is to shake hands with you or any other humans who would offer to do so! It is an intuitive and effortless task for your pet, so keep any worries aside. It would take just a few brief training sessions for your pet dog to get the hang of it. Once they get used to a handshake, you can start holding his paw for extended periods and teach him to shake left and right.
It is worth noting that training the dog to sit first before preparing him to shake would make it quite effortless. You will need to communicate well and connect with your dog before anticipating results from him.
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How Long Does it Take To Teach a Dog to Shake?
You cannot expect your pet to learn this cue overnight, regardless of the training you give them. A little patience goes a long way to train a dog correctly. It sets up the right tone for how your dog would perceive all the other complex pieces of training from you in the future.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
Dog training is very overwhelming if you are a first-timer. You will have to be patient while training your dog, as it would not be right to expect your dog to learn all the cues in a single day. Consistency and patience will help you go a long way here!
Let us take a look at the detailed steps on how to teach your pet dog to shake:
Select a Reinforcer
A successful reinforcer is something that your dog would enjoy and help hold their focus towards the training they are about to receive from you. It could be a favorite little snack like cut-up hotdog bites, little slices of cheese, meat, or their favorite toy to play with, like any store-bought training toy or even a simple chew toy.
Bite-sized treats are ideal for training because you should reward your dog with treats without adding too many calories to their diet. It could hinder the training as well as their overall health. This is the reason to make them fresh and customized treats for their liking, like tiny bits of cooked meat or even fruits and vegetables may be used.
Candies, sugar, bread dough, grapes, raisins, hops, yeast, moldy vegetables, macadamia nuts, xylitol, onions, and garlic cannot be fed to your dog because they can cause nausea and vomiting in your beloved pet.
Find a Marker/Signal
A marker is a sound or hand gesture that helps identify the precise moment your dog performed an action that won them a reinforcer (the treat). An excellent example of a marker is a clicker. A consistent term like, “ok” or “good” will suffice if you don’t have a clicker. Another choice is to use a hand signal like the thumbs up. The key is to choose one of these markers and consistently use the same marker throughout training. This consistent gesture would be helpful to your dog to recognize the preferred action that is expected on its behalf. So as soon as you see the action, use your preferred marker to make a note of it.
Here are clickers and treats for your pets to use while training:
Ask your dog to sit
Instruct your dog to go into the sitting position, mark their action, and reward them with a treat. If they do not withdraw from the ‘sit,’ then kneel before them, mark and treat them.
Encourage them to paw
Keep a treat in your palm facing up, at about your dog’s chest height, when your dog is sitting. Your dog would get curious to sniff and then eat the treat in your hand. Then, when your pet dog lifts a paw and places it in your hand to reach for the treat, mark and reward them with a treat and praise this behavior for positive reinforcement, repeat the process several times till it becomes an automatic action for your pet dog.
Then move on to gradually increasing the time your dog holds on to your hand, as this would be the last step towards introducing them to shaking hands. Make sure to mark this action specifically as this was the goal of our training, and remember to give out their treat too!
Add a verbal cue
It would help if you started introducing your preferred verbal cue after your dog paws regularly at the reward in your closed hand. Please wait until your dog paws at your side before handing in the order and the reward. Any word can be used as a cue, but “shake” and “paw” are common choices. When the dog paws at your side, say out loud the cue word. In most cases, one-word commands are the most effective.
Ignore any other attempts by your puppy, such as sniffing or trying to bite your hand. Repeat this procedure several times before the dog consistently lifts his paw when it hears the cue word.
If your dog does not raise his paw in response to the order, repeat the process before he does. If he still doesn’t respond after about 15 minutes, take a break and try again later. You don’t want to demotivate your canine buddy!
Reward when your dog completes the trick
Your dog would get confused if you reward him for some other actions. Never reward him until he has accomplished the task at hand; otherwise, he will fail to recognize the ideal cues and behaviors. To avoid inadvertently tempting your dog, make sure you have his full attention before you begin teaching.
If your dog can’t follow the “shake” cue word as you requested, don’t patronize them and give out the treat anyway. It could ruin the whole foundation of his training abilities. So be cautious when you are generous and give away treats to your pet dog as it could reinforce negative actions in them.
Teaching a dog to shake with one hand does not guarantee that it will instinctively learn to shake with its other paw. If you want your dog to shake with both paws, a good technique is to teach your dog to shake with the paw nearest to the hand you extend to them. For example, when you extend your right hand, and your dog shakes with their right paw, do not praise them; reward them if they shake with the left paw.
Eliminate the Treat
This would be the right moment to begin phasing out the dog treat until your dog follows all these little steps to shake your hand. Allow your dog to shake your hand without any treat and hand out the treat from the other hand. This teaches the pet to no longer expect a treat from the hand they are meant to shake. As the training sessions progress, give the treat fewer times before removing it entirely from the trick. You should replace treats with praise, love, affection, or some good old playtime at his favorite park with a shiny new ball!
Make it more challenging
Once your dog has mastered the “shake” command, consider putting up obstacles in front of him and wait for a situation that usually irks your dog, such as a visit to a crowded location or someone knocking on the door, and then give the order. The more you train in different scenarios, the better your dog will be at performing this command.
The next step is to try out more difficult habits, like suggesting that the dog shake someone else’s hand. The more comfortable your dog is with you, the better it will be at this too. Then demonstrate your approach with your dog so that any new person can imitate you as closely as possible. Then allow the person to sit the dog and call for a shake. Do that for a few people, and your dog will realize that people like shaking hands!
End on a positive note
Bear in mind to be patient and to keep training sessions brief. If your dog gets irritated or bored, it’s time to call it a day. However, always finish on a happy note, even if it’s as easy as telling your dog to sit and rewarding this simple behavior of theirs.
Problems you might face while training
One common issue is a dog that refuses to place its paw on your side, no matter how much you want to entice it with a reward. You should consider shifting the hand holding the reward closer to the dog’s paw. You may also gently nudge the paw. Offer your dog the treat as soon as it lifts its paw to your hand, and then proceed to praise your pet. If your dog doesn’t understand what you’re asking of it even after giving a slight nudge on the paw, consider voluntarily raising the paw into your hand instead. Follow this order for simplicity – give the order “shake,” bend down and pick up the hand, then say “good” and give the treat to the dog. Repeat this instantly several times in a row, reward the dog each time, and then return to stage one. Most dogs can then understand what is required of them and will start to give their paw.
Being patient is an essential thing while training your dog. It is also necessary to be consistent with the training procedure. Starting the training procedure might be a hasty task, but gradually, the sessions will be much more fun. Always remember to end the training session on a positive note to maintain a good rapport with your pet dog. So, teach them how to shake hands with humans and amaze everyone with your newfound canine companion!