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By Koru K9 Dog Training and Rehabilitation

Trick training is a fun way to interact with your dog and work them mentally. Personally, I like to watch my dog for behaviors that they are naturally inclined to do and work that into a trick. Shake is a fun one that is relatively easy to teach (especially if you own a German Shepherd!). There are a few methods of teaching your dog to shake or give paw, this is an easy one that works for most dogs.

A few things to remember:

  • Start with the basics. Make sure your dog has a solid sit before you try to teach him any kind of trick.
  • Have plenty of reward items on hand. I use liver treats. Dogs LOVE them and they are easy to break up into small pieces
  • Get your timing down. Make it clear to your dog what you are asking and what he is being rewarded for.
  • Remember, English is their second language. They have no idea what “paw” means.
  • Some trainers use clickers. I find that verbal markers work just as well and keep your hands free. When the dog offers up the behavior an immediate, emphatic “YES!” works well.
  • Keep the sessions short, about 5-15 minutes.

Now, let’s get started:

  1. Put one of those yummy liver treat pieces in the palm of your hand. Let your pooch start to check out your hand.
  2. Say “shake” or “paw” or whatever you are going to use as your verbal command. I recommend using one word cues to start (although I have transitioned Luna and Nero to “give me some skin” instead of paw…). Your dog has no idea what you are saying to him…so be patient.
  3. As your dog is checking our your hand, he’ll start by sniffing. Once he gets a whiff of that delectable liver treat in your hand, he will, more than likely start to paw at your hand. As soon as he does that, mark the behavior with “YES!” and give a treat FROM THE OTHER HAND.
  4. Do several repetitions as outlined above until the behavior is pretty strong. Remember to treat WITH THE OPPOSITE HAND.
  5. Next, we are going to progress to having nothing in your “shake” hand. Do this for a few more repetitions and keep treating with that opposite hand.
  6. Once the behavior is strong, move to an open palm. When he paws, mark it with a “YES!” and treat as always!

There you have it…a dog that can shake, give paw or give you some skin!