How to Teach your Collie ‘Paw’ (Easy Step By Step Guide)

Giving paw is a classic dog trick that’s not technically essential but it is pretty adorable! Plus learning new tricks and commands is enriching for a high-intelligence breed like a Collie because they need lots of mental stimulation to be happy.

You can teach your collie to give you a paw by using a small, high-value treat. Place the treat in your hands with your fingers closed and when your collie touches your hand with their paw, drop the treat and use the “paw” command verbally. Over time, your collie will associate the command with the action.

In this article, I’ll go over the step-by-step process I used to teach my collie to give me a paw, as well as go over some tips to help your collie enjoy the training sessions, and some hidden benefits of learning this simple trick.

How To Teach Your Collie to Paw

1. Get Your Collie to Sit Down First

The first step in teaching a collie to give you a paw is to have them sit down.

Giving a paw is possible from almost any position, but it’s easiest to perform when your collie is sitting down.

If they don’t already know the “sit” command, you can usually get them in a sit position by holding a treat above their heads and slowly moving it backwards. They will sit down naturally to keep the treat in their sights.

luna sitting nicely
Before your collie can give you a paw, they have to be sitting down.

2. Use a Treat To Encourage the Pawing Action

Get a high-value treat that your collie loves and hold it in your hand with your fingers loosely closed around it so your collie can smell it but can’t reach it. The best treats for training are often the smelliest treats, since the smell is appealing to your collie and they will be more likely to work to get at them. Cheese, smoked salmon, or cooked chicken or pork work well.

Hold the treat in the hand you want your dog to “shake” or encourage them to touch your hand with their paw. As soon as they paw at your closed hand, drop the treat for them so that they associate the pawing action with the reward.

Your dog will use their dominant paw at first. Focus on getting the trick working with their dominant paw at first, you can always go back and train them to use their other paw once they understand the desired action.

3. Use a Verbal and Visual Signal

As you practice the trick, make sure you always hold your hand out for your collie to grab and use the command “paw”. This helps your collie to associate the command and the hand signal with the action.

Every time you tell them to give you their paw, you could hold your hand out ready for them to touch. This can help to make “shake” or “paw” easier for them to learn since they already know where you want their paw to be. This trick is one that can really benefit from a hand signal.

Depending on the teaching method you decide to use for this, they might associate your hand being out as part of the command. So keep this in mind!

teaching collie to give a paw
The most common command for paw is ‘paw’ or ‘shake’. Hold out your hand for your collie to paw.

4. Consistent Training

As with all tricks, learning to give a paw requires consistent training to really internalize the trick.

As you train, try to use the same hand signal and verbal command every time, since it helps your collie to learn and prevents them from getting confused.

“Paw” or “Shake” are the most common verbal commands, but you can use anything that works for you.

Border Collies are highly intelligent and very perceptive, modifying things too much can be confusing for them. Being consistent with them is the best way to teach them any kind of trick or essential command.

5. Practice Without Treats

It’s really tempting to keep rewarding your collie with treats for performing such adorable tricks, but it’s not good for their health and it can lead them to only do what you say when they see that you have a treat for them.

Once your dog has learned the trick and can perform it for a treat, try the trick without a treat, but make sure to give them lots of praise and attention when they perform so that they don’t think they have done anything wrong.

If you use a clicker, now is the time to practice with only a click and no physical reward.

If your collie isn’t receptive or loses interest once the treats are gone, try giving them a treat every second or third time they perform the trick successfully. Collies are incredibly hard-working and love to please their owners, so eventually they will learn to love their training sessions and tricks and won’t expect a treat each time.

Training without treats is an important step for all tricks, as it also helps with obedience in other commands including important commands like stay, down, and recall.

Eventually your collie will learn to give you a paw without expecting a treat every time

Tips for Learning Paw:

Don’t Grab their Paw

Make sure you train your dog to give you a paw and don’t try to teach them by grabbing their paw yourself.

Dogs can be sensitive about certain parts of their body, just like us! Even a dog you’ve had all their life might not like you touching certain places such as their ears, tail, or paws. This means you should never just grab those areas since it can result in a warning bite and some defensive growling.

If you know your dog is sensitive about you touching their paws, it might take a bit longer to learn the trick. Just be patient and keep trying.

Keep Training Short and Fun

Collies love training, but they can become easily frustrated if they don’t understand what you’re asking them to do. Learning paw is usually one of the first tricks you’ll teach your collie so they might not fully understand the concept of training yet.

Keep training sessions short so that your collie doesn’t become bored, and always end on a high note by giving them a trick they can do well. This helps with their self-esteem and helps them to enjoy training sessions.

Benefits of Teaching your Collie to Give you a Paw

Although the benefits of “paw” aren’t immediately obvious, this elementary trick is actually super useful for your collie’s wellbeing, and serves as a foundation for more advanced tricks.

1. Paw Helps with Other Commands

For collies, giving you a paw is quite a simple command, but it’s usually one of the first commands they learn and it serves as an important foundation for other commands and tricks.

For example, Once your collie can give you a paw, you can teach them to touch other things like door handles, bells, and levers, and other tricks like dance, high-five, and beg.

luna the collie begging
Learning paw will help with other commands like beg and sit pretty

2. Collies Love Learning

Collies are hard-working and intelligent. They have an innate desire to work, and learning tricks is one of the best ways to enrich their lives.

Collies thrive on learning new things and will enjoy the process of learning as well as the reward for being able to complete the tricks successfully.

3. Paw Lets Your Collie Express Themselves

Once your collie learns the paw command, you might find them using their paws to express themselves more.

If your collie gives you a paw it could mean that they are hungry or that they want to play or go outside.

Since dogs can’t speak English, it’s important to teach them to express themselves in a way that we can understand, and tricks like paw and beg are great for this.

Luna loves to express herself

4. Learning Strengthens your Bond with your Collie

Collies are hard-working and loyal. Because of their heritage as herding dogs, they love learning new things and working to please you.

Learning a new trick is a great form of cognitive enrichment for any collie, but it will also strengthen your relationship.

As long as you keep training time short, involve lots of tasty treats for your collie, and end on a high note with a trick your collie can easily complete already, your collie will think of learning new tricks as a fun game to play with their favorite person.

Summary – Teaching Your Collie the ‘Paw’ Command is Easy

Teaching your collie to give you a paw is one of the easiest commands you can teach a dog.

Collies will instinctively paw at you if they are trying to tell you something, so it doesn’t take long for them to associate a command with the action, making it repeatable.

To teach your collie to give you a paw, follow these simple steps:

  • Get them to sit down first
  • Hold a treat out with your fingers closed around it
  • When your collie paws at your hand, reward them with the treat
  • Use a verbal command ‘Paw’ to help them associate the command with the action
  • Practice without giving them a treat every time
  • Practice consistently so that they don’t forget it

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!