Reasons Why Dogs Shake Hands


It is such a cool sight to see your dog shaking hands since it makes your dog look smart by adhering to the human etiquette.

reasons why dogs shakes hands

Whereas it is true that dogs are smart and they learn amazing tricks, handshaking will definitely make the dog smarter. The dogs have shown that they like handshaking and therefore you might see them engage in pawing behavior almost all day if given a chance.

So what exactly would make the dog be prone to the pawing behavior? Before we get into this, let’s first analyze the human handshake.

The Human Handshake

The culture of handshaking dates many centuries ago. Archaeological studies show that by the 5th century the ancient Greece people were already handshaking.

English zoologist Desmond Morris explains that handshake was considered as a gesture to show strong arms was not carrying arms. Interestingly, the handshake might mean more than that since it takes human beings closer to the dogs.

According to a recent study conducted by Israel scientist, the handshake allows us to transfer some chemicals to the next person. Both men and women will spend the time smelling hands, which is likely evidence that our sense of smell plays an important part when it comes to interacting.

The Dog Handshake

For the dogs, it is obvious that shaking the paws does not show not having a weapon. Further, it is not a way great and meets the people. So why do dogs love shaking hands? 

Pawing in dogs is a hardwired behavior, and some dogs will shake hands than others. Training a dog to shake the paws is easy since it encourages the innate behavior.

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It is also a way of gaining a strong history of reinforcement once the dog is trained. So how are dogs trained to handshake?

Training a Dog to Shake the Paws

The dogs are trained to handshake through added or positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is addition of a new trick such that it can be repeated in the future.


When you want to train a dog to paw, hold a treat in the hand and show it to the dog. When the dog sees the treat, it will try to reach for the treat, and that is when you close the hand allowing the dog to sniff it.

At this moment the dog will want to paw the arm, and when it does so, you should say yes or click a clicker so that the hand is open. Therefore the dog will continue to paw your hand next time because they love the treats.

Repeat this several times and exchange the hand holding the treat. There are also other methods that can be used other than using the treats.

Once your dog learns the new trick, this is a good time to start training your dog other forms of training such as high five, saluting and waving.

Note that dogs will have paw preferences just like human beings. Therefore you will find that a dog likes using the right paw than the left one.

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