How to Teach a Dog to High Five

People can’t seem to get enough of dogs doing human-like things, and high fives are a hands-down favorite. Teaching your dog how to high five, or “give paw,” won’t stop their problem behaviors or save the world. But with a trick this cute, who cares?

Grab some treats and learn how to teach a dog to high five in three easy steps.

How to teach a dog to high five

Teaching a dog to give you their paw as a high five, rather than a shake, is pretty straightforward. All we need to do is capture a natural action and give it a name.

Capture a natural action and give it a name.

First things first! You never want to grab your dog’s paw to try to teach them to high five. This won’t make much sense to your pup, but also, many dogs have sensitive paws. Grabbing the paw might actually make your dog afraid of the high-five trick.

Instead, try these steps. Start with your dog in a sitting position so they can more easily lift their paw.

  1. Place a treat in your hand and make a tight fist. Hold it at nose level and wait for your dog to grow impatient and paw at your hand. The moment they do, mark it with a click or a “Yes!” then reward them out of your other hand. Repeat this five times.
  2. Place a treat in your hand and make a tight fist and hold it at nose level. Before your dog has lifted their paw, say “High Five!.” The moment they lift their paw and touch your hand, mark it with a click or a “Yes!” then reward them out of your other hand. Repeat this five times.
  3. Next, we want to start reshaping the position of your hand into a true “high five.” With no treat in your hand, hold your flat hand up to your pup with your palm facing their nose. Say “High Five!” then click/”Yes!” when they touch your hand with their paw. Reward and repeat.

If your dog is having trouble at this stage, it might be because they don’t understand that the game works the same way even when your hand is flat, open, and empty.

  • Hold your empty fist in front of your dog. Say “High Five!” then click/”Yes!” and reward.
  • Hold your hand as if you were holding a baseball. Say “High Five!” then click/”Yes!” and reward.

I’ve just got one final nugget of wisdom: Once your dog is consistently high-fiving, begin to slowly reduce the frequency of your treats.

Start by rewarding them with food once every other high-five, then every third high-five. If your dog begins to struggle with the game, you know you’ve decreased the food too quickly.


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