How To Teach Your Dog To High Five

We want to get our dogs involved in clapping for our carers! Follow Dog School Coach Gemma and her dog Mabel as they show you the steps to teach your dog how to high-five. You can also use the same steps if you want to teach your dog to ‘give paw.’

Don’t forget if you’re taking your dog outside the front of your house to take part in Clap For Our Carers & Keyworkers, they must always wear a collar and tag and be on lead if you don’t have a secure front garden.


Preparation makes perfect
It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place such as your living room – without any distraction, interruption or temptation – and when you and your dog are both happy and relaxed. You’ll both be able to concentrate and be successful. You’ll also need rewards ready for your dog and these should be something they really enjoy. You’ll need lots to begin with, so small tasty treats are a good idea.

Start by getting them to touch your closed fist
Take a treat in a closed fist and hold it out in front of your dog until their paw touches your hand. If you use a rather grand offering gesture your dog might copy you and do the same with their paw. However, they might sniff or even lick your fist at first, so be prepared to keep your hand still and wait patiently for them to try using their paw.

Make sure your dog knows they’re getting it right
As they touch your hand with their paw, say your marker word and release the treat, so your dog learns that when they touch your hand, they get a treat.

A marker is a signal that tells your dog exactly when they’re doing something you’re happy about. The marker must always be followed by a reward so your dog can be confident they’ve got things right. Some people use a short punchy word such as ‘yes’ or ‘nice’, but you can also use a mechanical clicker device or even give a thumbs up.

Dogs learn by repeating things
Repeat until they are touching your closed fist with their paw every time you present it to them. If they’re struggling just have a break and come back to it – learning is not always as easy for them as we might think! If we take things gently and go at their pace they’ll be more likely to enjoy learning and remember what they’ve learned.

Now try without a treat
Hold a closed hand without the treat – don’t forget to say your marker word when they touch your hand with their paw, and quickly give them a treat from your other hand.

Repeat again!
Now repeat until they are touching your empty hand every single time.

Move on to an open hand
Now try with an open hand and wait for your dog to tap it with their paw, mark & reward when they do with a treat from your other hand.

If you just want to teach your dog to give paw, you can stop here and now name the action. Just before you present your hand to your dog say ‘give paw’ or similar, and then hold out your open hand for your dog to touch.

If you want to teach the ‘high five’ action – now move your hand a little higher
Gradually move your hand out a little bit higher each time, so your dog has to reach slightly higher for your hand. Repeat, each time gradually moving your hand up a bit more.

Time to high five
Now hold your hand out in a high five gesture – because your dog is now well-used to touching your hand with their paw and reaching upwards they should make a ‘high five’ with you. Once they have learnt this, you can name the command – say ‘high five’ just before holding up your hand and then say your marker word as soon as your dog taps your hand, then give them their reward right away!