How to Teach Your Dog to Give Paw

German Shepherd gives paw - Teach your dog to give pawTeaching your dog to give paw can be a really fun trick and there are some cool ways to build on it too such as high five and wave.  Teaching your puppy to give paw can also be very useful when you need to wipe off those muddy paws or for grooming paws.  According to expert dog trainer, Michele Meyer, there are several ways to teach your puppy to give paw.  Below are Michele’s steps for one of the techniques that she uses to teach this fun and useful trick.  

Teach your Dog How to Give Alternate Paws

If your dog already knows how to give paw, you could then teach your dog to give you his other paw. When teaching other paw, it’s best to use your other hand too and have your puppy mirror you. In other words, your left hand would ask for your dog’s right paw so that it is a mirror effect and neither you nor your dog are crossing arms to touch hand and paw. This gives a clearer message to your puppy on which paw you want.

Since your dog already knows “paw”, you could just try asking for the paw using your other hand. If your dog tries to give you the wrong paw, simply pull your hand away before your dog’s paw touches your hand and immediately try again.  If your puppy does not understand that you want the other paw, then you could follow the steps below to teach this.

The Paw Master

Once your dog knows how to give alternate paws you can then build repetition and then build speed so that now your dog will quickly give you left paw, right paw, left paw, right paw, etc. Just remember to do the mirror image technique described above which will help to decrease confusion and increase speed.

Steps to Teach Your Dog to Give Paw

CAUTION: You should not do the exercise below if your dog shows any aggression around food or treats.

Step 1 – Hold a treat in a closed hand and present it to your dog so that the back of your hand is facing the floor (palm up but with treat still closed in your hand). Be careful not to hold your hand too high…your dog should be able to easily put their paw on your hand.

Golden Retriever gives child paw - Teach your dog to give pawStep 2 – Patiently wait for your dog to paw at your hand to get the treat. Be patient, for some dogs this can take a while at first.  Professional dog trainer, Michele Meyer, says that you should NOT do this exercise if your dog is putting his teeth on you aggressively. However, if you feel your dog just nibbling softly with their front teeth, you should pull your hand away just for a second before returning your hand.  If your puppy is licking your hand, it is usually best just to leave your hand there and allow your dog to lick but if this really bothers you, then pull your hand away for a second before returning your hand.  Once your dog paws at your hand, immediately open your hand and let him have the treat.

Step 3 – Teach your dog the give paw verbal cue. Most common cues are “paw” or “shake”. Do not add the cue until your puppy will quickly and reliably paw at your hand to get the treat as soon as you present it to him. Give the cue right before you present your hand.

Step 4 – Continue giving the verbal cue right before you present your closed hand but now you will not have a treat in that hand anymore. Once your dog paws at your closed hand, quickly give your dog the treat from your other hand. If your puppy stops pawing your hand because there is no treat in it, then go back to the previous steps a little longer.

Step 5 – Once your dog is reliable with step 4, now you will present your hand with an open palm facing up to accept your dog’s paw. If your dog stops responding, then spend more time on the previous steps.

Step 6Expert dog trainer, Michele Meyer, says most people are done after step 5 which is where she stops with her dogs too. However, if you want to be able to gently hold and shake your puppy’s paw (like shaking hands) then you need to build on this gradually. If you do that too soon, your dog could dislike it and not want to give you his paw anymore.

That’s it…now that your dog knows how to give you paw…will you teach him to be the Paw Master? Remember , you will first need to train him to give you his other paw, then build repetition, and then speed.

Paw print trail - Teach your dog to give paw

For more dog trick ideas, check out our Dog Tricks Videos

Want help teaching more cool tricks?

Check out our Fun Fit Fido Program – online classes also available.

Happy paw trails to you and your dog 🙂