Teaching Your Dog How to Give High Fives

by Chris Miksen
    You can switch up the high five with a low five if you want.

    You can switch up the high five with a low five if you want.

    Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Nothing emphasizes how cool you and your dog are quite like a little high five action. The only problem is that your pup knows how to do a high five like he knows how to do a back flip, providing he indeed is not a canine gymnast. Hiding a treat from him will make him work a little harder to learn the smooth art of a high five.

    Step 1

    Choose a reward your dog can't resist. For some dogs, that's a small squeaker, while others salivate over the thought of you cutting a block of cheese. You want the highest value reward known to your pup, because having him sit back and wait for you to toss it to him isn't enough for this training method.

    Step 2

    Approach your dog and tell him to sit. Hold the reward in your palm and curl your fingers over it, and then offer your hand to your pup in front of his chest. Your hand should be vertical, with your palm and reward visible to him. At this point his little pupils will blow up like miniature balloons, he'll probably lick his lips and then nose your hand, lick it and may attempt to nibble on the treat or toy.

    Step 3

    Keep your hand steady. Your pup should eventually try to paw at it. It may take a few times, and you may have to grab his attention back from wherever it drifted off to. The moment he lifts his paw to meet your hand, either feed him a treat from your free hand, or if you have a clicker, click and give him the treat. Do not let him have the treat in the high-five hand.

    Step 4

    Repeat the entire training process for about three blocks of 15 to 20 repetitions over the course of a day. Throughout the first day, you want your pup to get used to lifting his paw to meet your hand. Some dogs catch on almost immediately, while others need an entire day to realize that paw to hand means something awesome is headed their way. On the second day, work in the command once your pup's consistently offering his paw every time you present him with your hand. Say "high five" as he's lifting his paw to your palm, and then reward him. Do this for half a day or so.

    Step 5

    Remove the treat from your high-five hand and show your pup your empty palm, keeping your hand in a vertical position. Say "high five." Despite him not seeing a reward, he should offer you his paw. The second he does, reward him and give him some praise. Now that your pup's a master of high fives, try the other paw out, and up the ante by moving your hand a little higher so he has to stretch for it.

    Items You Will Need

    • Treat or toy
    • Clicker (optional)


    • Even if you're holding one of your pup's toys in the hand you're using for a high five, don't give him the toy. Toss him a treat from your other hand.
    • If you taught your pup the leave it command, he may not paw at your hand. In that case, teach him the shake command first -- via the method of lifting his paw -- and then transition into a high five. A high five is essentially a different form of the shake command, so transitioning should be simple.


    • Always keep the training relaxed and fun -- never scold your pup for taking too long or forcefully grab him. Keep calm.

    Photo Credits

    • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

    Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!