Give Your Paw may be the most natural trick for dogs prone to pawing. This one is especially important because it serves as the foundation for other paw-oriented tricks, so master it first.
The shaping steps for teaching Give Your Paw are:
- Find out what usually gets your dog to paw at you and use it to get him to do it. As your dog’s paw is in the air, (click and) treat.
- Repeat this 15 to 20 times until your dog is offering his paw readily.
- Now, leave your hand outstretched and wait for your dog out; don’t prompt him in any other way, see what happens. If he lifts his paw at all, (click and) treat.
- If after a few seconds he doesn’t lift his paw, go back to help him for another 10 to 15 repetitions before you try again. You want your dog to understand that lifting his paw is what gets the treat to happen.
- If you are using your outstretched hand as a prompt that gets your dog to give his paw, this can be turned into the cue for the behavior. Show your hand and (click and) treat your dog as he is stretching out his paw.
- Add the verbal cue. Give Your Paw when your dog is raising his paw to slap your hand on a regular basis.
- Practice in different environments with different distractions, being careful not to overwhelm your dog. If the behavior falls apart in a new place, don’t be afraid to make things easier for him and help him out.
- Avoid repeating ourself over and over; give one cue, wait for your dog’s response and (click and) treat. If your dog’s response is not quick enough, go back to help him for 6 to 10 repetitions before trying again.