How to teach your dog to give a high five

Keep your dog’s brain engaged by training them to do this fun trick

Patch the crossbreed giving paw to a Canine Carer

Teaching your dog to high five or give paw is a fun way to bond with them. Dogs enjoy enrichment through training, and it also gives you a chance to show off your dog’s tricks to your friends. Check out our step-by-step video guide. 

Step one: preparation 

It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place such as your living room – without any distractions, interruptions or temptations. Both you and your dog need to be happy and relaxed before you start. You’ll also need some rewards ready for your dog and these should be something they really enjoy. You’ll need lots to begin with, so small, tasty treats are a good idea.

Step two: touch your closed fist 

Take a treat in a closed fist and hold it out in front of your dog until their paw touches your hand. If you use a grand offering gesture your dog might copy you and do the same with their paw. However, they might sniff or even lick your fist at first, so be prepared to keep your hand still and wait patiently for them to try using their paw.   

As they touch your hand with their paw, say your marker word such as ‘yes’ or ‘good’ and release the treat, so your dog learns that when they touch your hand, they get a treat.

Step three: repeat 

Repeat until they are touching your closed fist with their paw every time you present it to them. If they’re struggling, take a break and come back to it later. If we take things gently and go at their pace, they’ll be more likely to enjoy learning and remember what they’ve learned.

Step four: try without a treat 

Hold a closed hand without the treat. Don’t forget to say your marker word when they touch your hand with their paw, and quickly give them a treat from your other hand. Repeat again until they are touching your empty hand every single time.

Step five: move on to an open hand

Now try with an open hand and wait for your dog to tap it with their paw, making sure to mark and reward when they do with a treat from your other hand.

Step six: introduce a cue for ‘paw’ 

If you just want to teach your dog to give paw, you can stop here and now add a verbal cue to name the action. Just before you present your hand to your dog say ‘paw’ or similar, and then hold out your open hand for your dog to touch.

Step seven: move it higher 

If you want to teach the ‘high five’ action, move your hand a little higher. Gradually move your hand out a little bit higher each time, so your dog must reach slightly higher for your hand. Repeat, each time gradually moving your hand up a bit more.

Step eight: time to high five

Now hold your hand out in a high five gesture – because your dog is used to touching your hand with their paw and reaching upwards, they should make a ‘high five’ with you.

Once they have learnt this, you can name the command. Say ‘high five’ just before holding up your hand and then say your marker word as soon as your dog taps your hand, then give them their reward right away!

Find out more about tricks you can teach your dog.

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