There’s nothing better than being greeted by a friendly canine. But not everyone is comfortable being approached by a new dog, and not every dog wants to get close to a new person. Teaching your dog to wave hello (or goodbye) gives him another way to interact with people in a calm, controlled manner. A polite paw wave is an easy way for your dog to charm guests with his good manners and pleasant behavior.
Wave essentially consists of your dog remaining in a sit position and raising a front paw in the air. If your dog doesn’t already know how to sit on cue, start with that before you move on to teaching him to wave.
Dogs who already know how to shake may have a paw up on other dogs when it comes to learning to wave, but that’s not a requirement for this trick. Follow these simple steps to teach your dog to wave hello.
Sit, Stay… Wave
Start with your dog in a sit. Hold a treat in a closed hand at your dog’s chest level — the goal is to get your dog to raise a paw toward your hand. Mark and reward any paw lift or shift in weight that causes one paw to move slightly off the ground.
Some canines will immediately lift a paw up in the air to investigate the hidden treat. Others will shift their weight forward and lean in or stand up to sniff or lick the closed hand. If your dog moves out of a sitting position, reset and try again.
Keep in mind that the goal is not to have your dog touch your hand, just to reach for it. To emphasize this, hold your hand just slightly out of his reach and click or mark just before he touches you.
Once your dog is raising his paw toward your hand, encourage him to lift it higher by raising the hidden treat. Mark and reward after each paw lift. Work up to having your dog raise his paw to shoulder height — or higher, if he can. Keep in mind that this requires both balance and strength. Be patient and keep practicing until your dog can consistently lift his paw without moving out of a sitting position.