Teach Your Dog to Give a Paw

Everyone knows how to do this trick. Say GIVE YOUR PAW and pick up Harpo’s paw. Repeat this over and over again. You can reduce the number of repetitions if you stay attuned to your dog. A dog will lift its paw on a number of occasions without knowing this exercise. He will paw

you if he wants attention, wants to be petted or scratched. So do it — pet him and scratch him—after you say GIVE YOUR PAW. Most dogs will give their left paw. The majority of people are “righties” and reach for the closest paw. What a plot for a mystery — Super sleuth finds a dog left at the scene of the crime. When he says GIVE YOUR PAW, the dog lifts his right paw. “Aha! The criminal is left-handed.”

This simple fact lets you jazz up this nice old trick. Tell Harpo GIVE ME THE OTHER PAW. Good old dog, craving attention, will try the other paw to gain it. Grasp it, praise him, tell him he’s wonderful, and you’re off to the races.

Your dog will also extend his paw when he assumes a submissive posture because he has done something wrong. This is a first step in the dog’s behaviour pattern of submission, to be followed ultimately by his rolling over. When his paw comes up, give the command, take the paw, and reassure him. Do not use this technique if your dog has done something awful on your Persian rug. When he has given you one paw, firmly say NO, THE OTHER PAW.

He will submissively offer the other paw. Take it and praise him. Now you can build this exercise into RIGHT PAW, LEFT PAW. But you can show off even before your dog learns it well. Your patter, “No, not that paw, the right paw, now the other paw, the left paw, no, the other paw,” can be more effective than actually doing RIGHT PAW, LEFT PAW.

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