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How to Teach Your Dog to Give You Their Paw

January 18, 2019

Dogs learn fast. All dog owners have experienced that. Especially puppies are good and eager learners. You may have heard the saying that it’s hard to teach an old dog to sit, but that’s not true. Like us some dogs learn faster than others, but with good treatment they are eager to show that they can do what you want.

Learning must be fun. It should be fun for your dog and fun for you. Your dog will notice, if you loose patience or get frustrated. Therefore, shouting and angry faces will only ruin your project. A good training session takes place in a peaceful location with no distractions. Typically they last 10-15 min, but you can do them several times per day. In short, the basic recipe goes like this: offer positive reinforcement, repetition and affection. Your dog will love it!

So here is how, step by step

1 First, your dog must know how to sit

For your training to work, your dog must already have learned how to sit on command. Teaching the dog to sit is a training session of its own and you will have to complete that before starting.

2 Reward your dog when the dog does it right

You need to have a sufficient amount of treats in your pocket. The dog knows that something good is coming if the master looks satisfied. The dog will do its best. But don’t overdo it. Dogs too sometimes suffer from obesity and you don’t want that to be a side-effect of your training.

3 Tech you dog to recognise your command word and your gesture.

Dogs cannot learn to talk, but they can learn to recognise and act on individual words, even phrases. Always use the same word for the same action. They will associate your command with your gesture and they will then do their part. Always use the same hand, because sometimes using one hand and sometimes the other, will only confuse your dog and you will not get the results you expect. Which command word you select doesn’t matter. Use “paw” or try something fancy, but remember to be consistent.

Initial training

Use the word you selected and tell your dog to sit. At the same time, take their paw. Use a pleasant tone of voice. When you have the paw, give your dog the treat. The first time the dog may not understand your intent, but after a few times the dogs normally get the idea. Never exhaust your dog. It has to be fun for both of you.

You may also try this: Let you dog first smell the treat. Then put your hand with the treat close to the dog’s nose. The dog will try to open your hand with its paw. When the dog does it, open you hand so the dog gets its reward. After a few exercises the dog will understand and start to perform in the intended way. Remember to always show that you were satisfied with the dog’s behaviour.

After the initial training

When you have noticed that your dog now remembers your command and gives its paw, you can stop giving the treat. In this situation show affection and love instead and after some time you will be able leave out the treat altogether. Of course, you can still give the treat occasionally to reinforce the behaviour. You may also try to teach your dog to use the other paw when you use another word or phrase.


This has been a concise summary of the key steps to teach your puppy on grown-up dog to give its paw. A more detailed description can be found here: How to Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw

Good luck and have lots of fun and happy hours with your dog!