Pug Training 101: Teaching Your Pug to Shake & High Five

Everyone wants to know if your pug can shake hands. Let’s face facts, it’s a cute trick. And I will teach you how to train your pug to do just that!

To begin your pug will need to have a good solid sit command.

You will need some high value treats and a hungry pug…. Never an issue right?

Take a treat in your hand and close your fist tightly around it.

With your pug in a sit put your closed fist in front of them. Your pug will be able to smell the treat and will attempt to start getting it from you hand. They will try sniffing, licking, pushing it with their nose but unfortunately none of these will be successful.

Eventually your pug will decide he/she needs the assistance of their paw. They will lift their paw and touch your fist to try to get the treat out.

As soon as your pug puts his/her paw onto your fist you can say your conditioned reinforcer or bridge word “YES” and instantly open the hand to show the treat. Your pug will gobble it up. Repeat the process until your pug understands that his paw touching your hand gets the hand to open. They learn fast!

Now for those who don’t know what a conditioned reinforcer or bridge word is, check out this infographic that explains it perfectly.

Remember that short sessions that are successful work the best. You will be most successful training this over a few sessions.

Once you pug understands that their paw touching your fist is what gets the hand to open and get the treat then you can add a command. The command will be “Shake”. Say the word “Shake” then offer your fist like normal. Once the paw touch happens say “Yes” and open your hand to release the treat just like before. In not too many sessions your pug will understand their command “Shake”

Shake is loads of fun, but let’s take this one step further and teach our pugs to “High Five”!!

Using the same concept above you will start with a closed fist and treat. Put your fist slightly higher than you have been with the shake.

Wait for your pug to choose to touch it with their paw and again release the treat. Slowly increase the height of your fist so your pug reaches a tiny bit higher each time.  Eventually you will have your hand at face height of you pug and they will be happily reaching out to touch your hand to get the treat. Keep using your conditioned reinforcer “YES” every time they get it correct. Say “YES” just before you open the hand to give the treat.

Once your pug understands his new trick of reaching higher to get the fist to release the treat we can put the trick on command too. Just like above we give our new command of “High Five” and put our closed fist up and once your pug touches your hand say “YES” and release the treat to them.

Repeat over a few sessions to be most successful.

Eventually you will phase out the food treat in the hand. We want the trick to be on command with a reward. When you feel your above tricks are really solid you can ask for the tricks without a food treat in your fist. Your pug will expect there to be a treat in your hand so once your pug does the trick quickly grab a treat from your pocket or other hand and say YES and reward. Your pug will soon understand that the performed trick will now earn his reward.

Dog training is best done is small steps, setting our dogs up to be successful. Over the training sessions your pug will get very good and understanding the commands if you are consistent.

Another step to add is to get rid of your fist hand signal too. When I want a high five from my son I have a flat had…. This is what we will work towards with our pugs too!

Phase out your fist hand signal by slowly relaxing your grip each time you ask for either trick. If your pug really understands his/her command this will be easy. You will slowly progress to being able to give the command and offer an open hand for shake and a flat hand for high five.

Now check out the video of 15 week old Ernest learning both “shake” and “high five” commands.

Do you have something in particular you would like me to cover in an upcoming training post? Perhaps another trick or command you would like your pug to learn? Just leave me a comment below with your suggestions for future pug training tips.

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Amy Smith
Amy Smith is a certified dog and puppy obedience trainer. She is very passionate about helping dogs, in particular puppies, to become the best fur kid they can be in your family. Amy runs regular puppy training classes through her business on Sydney's Northern Beaches, Amy's Puppy Pre-school.


  1. Avatar Jenny on April 23, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Great post! Punky has SIT now. Very proud pug parent! {Let’s not mention she still poops in the house}. I started drop today but it was very unsuccessful. The pug stature for drop might be different to a staffy’s? Have you covered drop yet? Do you think I do drop next or shake or it doesn’t matter? Sorry for all the questions but you are the puggy whisperer 🙂

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on April 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      I found that it was quite difficult to get Ref to drop but I worked out that having him sit in his bed then teach him to drop seemed to work for him. That way he doesn’t slide and he had his bed holding his butt where it should be. I’m not sure that makes sense but it worked for me. But just keep persisting cause she will pick it up when she works out that she gets food for it.

      I would go with drop next. It is important that she knows all the basic commands like sit, drop, stay, leave it etc before going onto the fun stuff. Check out this post that Amy did on teaching drop. http://www.thepugdiary.com/pug-training-101-teaching-pug-drop/

      Happy to answer all the questions you have any time 🙂

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