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Teaching My Labradoodle to Shake Hands

To shake hands is a pretty basic ability, which any dog can learn. Even your unruly little rascal!

But what is the best way to teach your Labradoodle to shake hands?

  1. Sit down facing your dog, which is also sitting.
  2. Have a nice treat in your hand, perhaps a meatball or something which smells delicious.
  3. Hold the treat in your closed hand in front of the dog, somewhere around chest height. The dog will sniff and lick your hand, but keep your hand closed. The dog’s next reaction will be to use its paws to try and open your hand.
  4. If the dog raises just one of its front paws, open your hand, and allow the dog to take the treat.
  5. Now you start from the beginning again, but this time, demand that the dog raises its front paw a bit higher than before. For a Labradoodle it’s entirely normal to use its front paw to try and get food, so most will learn it very fast, perhaps even in the first attempt, so you have to be ready to quickly open your hand and release the treat when its paw touches your hand.
  6. When your Labradoodle surely lifts its paw and touches your hand, every time you present the treat in your closed hand, you can begin to phase out the treat.
  7. You do this by presenting your closed hand in front of the dog exactly like before, but this time without a treat in it. The dog will most likely display the same behavior as before, which you quickly reward with a treat you have in your other hand. Continue doing this, until this behavior is guaranteed.
  8. The last step during training is to teach your Labradoodle that your hand doesn’t have to be closed before the dog displays the correct behavior. You do this by gradually opening your (empty)hand, a bit at a time. This can be tricky for the dog to get used to, so have a bit of patience. Combine “easy” attempts where your hand is almost closed, with “harder” attempts where your hand is half open, so it doesn’t just get harder and harder for the dog, but it also gets the feeling that training is easy and fun, even if you challenge if by upping the difficulty.
  9. Finally, you can add a verbal command. So perhaps by saying “shake” when the dog lifts its paw to place on your hand. It doesn’t make sense adding a verbal command until the dog has learned the right behavior. When you have done this a few times, you say “shake” when you can see that the dog is thinking about lifting its paw – when there’s a high probability that it will. Usually when it’s very observant of you, and perhaps shifts its weight to the other leg. When you have trained this a few times, and the dog combines your verbal command “shake” with the expected behavior, you can try saying “shake” before the dog thinks about lifting its paw. If the dog lifts its paw afterward, the behavior is taught, and on command.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes! 

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