How to Teach a Dog to Paw: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Teach a Dog to Paw: 8 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Teach a Dog to Paw: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

Teaching your dog to paw is an easy trick to learn, especially in the case of dogs that already use the paw to play or attract attention. With a little patience and a few treats, it won't be long before he learns how to give his paw.


Part 1 of 2: Preparing to train the dog

Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 1

Step 1. Choose a snack

Snacks are an important part of the training process. They serve as tasty rewards that are given when the dog does the desired action, whether it's something big or small. In general, the snacks used to train the animal should be your dog's favorites and reserved for that time only.

  • Choose options that aren't crunchy. The pet may be more interested in sniffing and eating the crumbs than in paying attention to what the owner is trying to teach him.
  • Some examples of snacks are small pieces of cheese or sausage and small liver biscuits.
  • When teaching the dog to paw, the rewards should always be treats combined with verbal praise.
Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 2

Step 2. Choose a verbal command

Verbal commands are another component that can help a lot in dog training. Some commands for this trick are: “paw” and “give the paw”. Whichever command you choose, use it consistently throughout training so as not to confuse the pet.

  • If you have a large family, talk to them to make sure they all use the same verbal command for this trick.
  • Short, concise commands are best, as the dog understands and responds better to such commands than to long sentences (for example, “It's time to pawn”).
Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 3

Step 3. Choose a training location

Even though it's relatively easy to teach the dog to paw, training sessions should go more smoothly if he's not distracted. Inside the house, set up a “no distractions” location – turn off the television, keep other pets and people out of it, and remove any toys that might distract the dog. The fewer distractions, the better.

If you have an enclosed backyard, you can train in this outdoor area without so many distractions

Part 2 of 2: Teaching the Dog to Paw

Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 4

Step 1. Ask the dog to sit

It's easier to teach him how to pawn if he's already seated. If he doesn't know how to sit, you can teach him by holding a treat in front of his snout far enough away to prevent him from reaching for the food. Then raise your hand above the pet's head, and when it lifts its head to follow the treat, gently press the dog's back to make it sit up.

  • Give a verbal command (“sit”) by pressing his back down. Immediately give a compliment and give the treat when the animal touches the ground.
  • Don't give the treat if he gets up again and tries to get it. Say “no” firmly if he does.
  • Practice several times a day in 10 to 15 minute sessions. At some point, the dog will learn to sit and stay in position to receive the treat.
Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 5

Step 2. Hold the treat in front of the dog's muzzle

Unlike training for the dog to learn to sit, he shouldn't see the treat now throughout the entire process. Instead, you should show the treat to get the animal's attention and then hide it by closing your hand.

Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 6

Step 3. Wait for the dog to extend its paw towards you

Your pet may not take long to do this if he has the habit of using his paws to get the owner's attention or to play. However, if he doesn't have this habit, the dog may first try to catch the treat in his mouth. Don't do anything if he uses his mouth, as this is not the desired behavior.

  • When he raises his paw, even if it's just a little, immediately give a verbal praise (“yes,” “good boy”) and open your hand to give the dog the treat.
  • You can also reward him if he changes his weight to try to lift his paw, as this already indicates an effort in the right direction.
  • If you are using a clicker, squeeze the device as soon as the dog lifts the paw (or changes body weight to lift it).
  • Use your other hand to hold the pet's paw at this point. It's easier to do this if you don't use a clicker.
  • Do not scold the animal if it uses its mouth. By rewarding only the desired behavior (raising the paw) and ignoring the unwanted (using your mouth), you can teach him to repeat the action you want.
Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 7

Step 4. Use verbal commands

When the dog is already consistently lifting the paw to get the treat hidden in the hand, add a verbal command to the trick. Use whatever command you have chosen before starting training sessions. Say the command after closing your hand and before the dog raises his paw to get the treat.

  • Immediately praise and reward the puppy when he raises his paw in response to your command.
  • The objective is to teach the dog to give the paw only to the sound of the verbal command, without having to hold a treat in front of its muzzle. Gradually remove snacks and keep training sessions.
  • Do not repeat the verbal command to get the dog to do something. If the dog doesn't respond the first time, he may not yet understand what the command means. In that case, continue to practice with him over several sessions.
Train a Dog to Give You Its Paw Step 8

Step 5. Challenge your pet

As the dog gets more skillful, add some challenges to the trick. For example, practice the trick in different situations and places where there are distractions (eg cars, people and other dogs).

It is also possible to teach the dog to raise both paws. If you want to do this, use a different verbal command for the other paw to avoid confusing the animal


  • Teaching your dog to paw is a quick procedure. He should probably learn the trick within a few days.
  • The dog can get bored with very long training sessions. Cut down on sessions to five or 10 minutes, just a few times a day.
  • Have lots of snacks in your pocket during training sessions.
  • Don't be discouraged if the dog doesn't learn to paw. Maybe he doesn't like the trick and prefers something else. If so, try other trick options, such as playing dead or rolling.
  • Try clicker training, which is when the owner replaces the treat with the sound of the device to make the dog associate the noise with receiving a reward.

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