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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