Shake, sit, lie down, roll-over, stay, etc… These are all important commands for your dog to learn as they mature. Sometimes these are the necessities of a healthy and well-trained animal, other times, they are simply for show. Nonetheless, each has a place in the disciplining of your dog.
The “shake” command, in particular, is more of a party trick, but it establishes trust and some sense of equality between the dog and its owner – as you are coming down to their level to allow them to shake your hand.
This handy guide will have you ‘shaking’ with your dog before long, as the trick is not complicated to learn and repeat.
Get down on their level
One of the important things with the ‘shake’ command is the establishment of trust and equality between animal and owner. Make sure you come down to eye level with your pup and look them in the eyes.
Ensure that you have their undivided attention – the trick won’t work without it. Some owners will use a clicker to train their dog, the ‘clicker’ means a reward to hold your dog’s attention and reward positive behavior. It’s a form of positive reinforcement. When you’ve got down to their level, use the clicker to achieve their attention.
Hold their attention
Again, you won’t be able to perform the ‘shake’ without your dog’s attention, use your clicker, or if you’re not using that style of training, then be sure to hold their attention. Keep your eyes on your dog and be sure they’re fixed on you.
Raise your hand and give the ‘shake’ command
Next comes the party trick that you’ve been waiting for! Raising your hand, give your dog the ‘shake’ command. This is sometimes replaced with the word “paw” or the phrase, “give me your paw”. You can start off by gently moving your dog’s paw into your hand while giving the ‘shake’ command.
This will begin to train them to move their paw into your hand as they hear the word ‘shake’. Your dog may choose to not respond right away, that’s okay, let them sniff and smell your hand and be inquisitive about what your hand is doing because that’s new to them.
Repeat and reward
One of the main things about this trick is that it’s all about repetition. Like humans, dogs learn by doing and doing and doing. It’s only by repetition that your dog will learn to ‘shake’. When your dog is able to complete the trick, then it’s time to reward your dog! A treat and a “good boy/girl!” will suffice. Positive reinforcement is a great way to show your dog that good behavior is rewarded.
One of the best things to do next is switch paws and see if your dog recognizes the motion and is able to complete the ‘shake’ command without prompting. Lots of positive reinforcement, even if they aren’t able to complete it the first time. Let them be inquisitive and sniff and move your hand around.
One thing to consider is to ensure that your dog is properly groomed, this way, their nails should be sufficiently cut, so as to ensure that they don’t injure you when they plonk their paw into your hand. The ‘shake’ command can also be used as a method of trust between your dog groomer and your dog.
Upon first meeting your dog, the groomer may decide (or you can request, particularly if it is a new groomer), that they do the ‘shake’ trick with your pet, so as to build up the level of trust required for the relationship. Trust is a huge part of dog grooming as otherwise, it can be quite a traumatic experience for your pup.
Don’t spend too long on this trick, no more than a few minutes each day, until your dog has learned the trick sufficiently, but don’t overburden your dog with this – there are more important commands for your dog to learn: focus on these instead, sitting, staying and lying down are far more important than ‘shake’.
Rewards are a great way to get your dog to complete this trick time after time, as dogs, just like humans, tend to do things that get them rewards. Use this part of their brains towards your goal.
Soon, you and your dog will have the ‘shake’ trick firmly in your bag and you can use the trick as a method of positive reinforcement in and of itself. Add the party trick to any social gathering and you and your dog will be an instant hit.