Dog games for kids: teach your dog to shake hands

Just 10 minutes of practice before dinner and your kids can teach your dog tricks, including how to shake hands/paws. The best pet dog is a well-trained one who knows his place in the family pack.

What you need:

  • 1 dog
  • A fistful of delicious dog treats. Don’t offer boring things like kibble – try pieces of barbecue chicken or chopped up frankfurt
  • Patience
  • A willingness to practise often for short periods of time.

Number of players:


Henry the dog is one well trained pooch. Watch the video to see his dog tricks, then use our dog training tips below to try your dog’s paws at the “shake hands” dog trick.

Teaching your dog to shake hands will take a bit more time and patience than other dog tricks. Dogs don’t naturally shake hands. They prefer to greet each other with a good ol’ bottom sniff rather than a handshake.

First you need to make sure you and your dog have mastered “SIT”.  Sit is the starter position for most dog tricks. It helps get your dog’s attention. Show the dog that you have a treat but keep your fist closed.

Have your closed palm/fist facing up. Hold your hand in front of his paw, a few inches off the ground. He may try to sniff at it, or nose at it but just leave it there and wait. Eventually he will try to paw at your hand to get the treat. As soon as he lifts his paw even SLIGHTLY off the ground, say “GOOOOOOOD!!”, open your fist and give him the treat.

You will need to teach this trick bit by bit, building it gradually. First he lifts his paw just a little bit, then you raise your had a little bit higher for him to make him lift his paw higher. Then he puts his paw on your fist, then eventually you will hold your hand flat for him to put his paw on it.

It’s important to reward your dog the minute he lifts his paw so that he knows that’s the behaviour you are looking for.

Once he starts raising his paw a little bit and realises this is what you are asking him, add the command “SHAKE” as you hold your hand out in front of him.

Hints and tips:

  • Soft treats are best. Anything hard and crunchy takes too long for the dog to munch and by the time he is finished, he’s forgotten what he did to earn the treat. So go with pieces of cooked meat or small bits of frankfurt.
  • Thanks to our sister company Kidspot Australia for creating the instructional video.

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