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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Teach Your Dog To High Five

Teach Your Dog to ''High-Five''

PetSmart Debbie McKnight/ Accredited PetSmart Trainer

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The "high-five" is a simple and popular trick to teach your dog that is fun to show off to friends.

To teach your dog to "high-five," you are going to use a process called "shaping."  Think of shaping as molding your dog’s behavior from how he currently responds to a cue to how you would like him to respond to that cue.  

To speed up the learning process, you can use a "marker," or a sound or short word that "marks" the correct behavior for the dog and is always followed by a treat.  The most common markers are a clicker or the word "yes." If you have never used a marker with your dog, say “yes” or click and immediately give him a treat. Do this four or five times before you begin training to get him accustomed to his mark..

The "high-five" in five easy steps: 

1. Buy some strong-smelling, tasty treats your dog will enjoy and take him somewhere quiet where he won't be distracted.

2. Take the treat in your hand, close your fist around it and place it under his nose close enough where he can smell the treat and paw at your hand.  For most dogs, this is about four to six inches away from his body (but in line with his nose) and a tiny bit lower than collar level.

3. At this point, he should try pawing at your hand to get the treat. When he does, mark it with your word or clicker and then give him the treat in your hand. If he is hesitant to lift up his paw, try moving the treat to the side so he has to lean a bit, or wiggle the treat around to make it more exciting.  Resist the urge to pick up his foot.  He’ll learn better if he figures it out himself, so be patient and let him try. Continue to do this until your dog has the idea and consistently paws at your hand. 

4. Now switch it up a bit and put a treat in your other hand. Present the fist without the treat to your dog in the same fashion. When your dog paws at your empty fist, mark it and give him the treat from your other hand. 

5. Gradually begin to open your hand so it resembles a flat palm for a "high five."  Don’t forget to mark and treat for each time his paw meets your hand.  Keep practicing this step until your dog is comfortable with it.  When he is good at this, add your verbal cue like "high-five!"

Most dogs love learning new tricks and they are fun to show off to your friends.  Find a trick class at your local PetSmart if you’d like to learn a whole repertoire of tricks!


Debbie McKnight is an accredited PetSmart trainer in Hurst, Texas.


For information on PetSmart's Accredited Training, please visit PetSmart's training web site.


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