Tired of yelling at your dog to stop jumping on people? Tell him to “give paw” instead!
Tricks aren’t just for fun; they can have numerous practical benefits. One of my favorite tricks is to “give paw.” It’s easy for many dogs to learn, and it provides a fun way to replace jumping on people, play biting your guests, and other exuberant behaviors. (I generally do not recommend this for shy dogs who are afraid to greet strangers, however.)
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Why is “paw” so magical? Because a dog who is giving his paw can’t be jumping on them. There is no need to yell “no!” or have to peel your pooch off the neighbors’ leg anymore. Furthermore, by giving his paw, your dog is still getting what he wants: interaction with a guest or passer-by. It is a controlled behavior that naturally replaces the old, undesirable behavior, without the need for punishment. Win-win!
How to Teach “Paw”
While there are many ways to teach a dog to give his paw, I prefer the following method, as it encourages your dog to think for himself.
Use Paw for Good Manners
Once your pup has mastered “paw” with you, start asking him to do it for friends and family, starting with the calmest people in your circle. For extra bouncy dogs, you can cue the “paw” while your friend holds out his palm, and then you’re the one to mark and reward your dog. This method gives you consistency, using the same tone of voice and treats that your dog is already familiar with.
As time goes on, friends can do the sequence entirely themselves, and you can fade out the treats. (“Paw” is self-rewarding, after all.) Once your dog learns how well this trick works to get him attention, he’ll happily sit to greet a new friend.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY.