A fun and cool trick to show family and friends

Not long ago, in fact only 6 weeks previous to writing this article, my partner and I made a final decision to purchase a little bundle of fluffy trouble and give him a loving home. Enter Byron the Golden Retriever puppy!

Byron the Golden RetrieverCredit: EnseaPhotography

Known not only for their affectionate and friendly nature, so far as to "lick a trespasser to death" rather than frighten them off, they are also highly intelligent animals. Their intelligence has not gone unnoticed by human kind, and they serve as excellent guide dogs and companions. Byron's cute little fluffy head had a lot of brains packed in and he needed plenty of mental stimulation. I began researching fun and easy tricks that I could teach him in a short amount of time, and so came about the high five! Any dog can be taught this trick, although the time taken to learn it might vary on the breed. In order to teach this, you must first have a dog that is willing to sit and pay attention to you. Without these basics, this trick will be too advanced for them.

You need:

  • some small treats, only pinch size.
  • a clicker
  • no distractions (loud noises, moving stimuli)
  • a dog that is calm enough to pay attention and not in a hyper mood.

I asked Byron to give me his attention by repeating his name, and showing him that I had treats available. You can even have him lick the treat if it helps grab his attention. Now he's listening. Ask him to sit (this will have to be learned before teaching high five), whilst still holding his attention with the sight of the treat. Use your clicker as his bottom hits the ground to let him know this is good behaviour. Next, place your left hand to the side of his body with the palm up, near his knee joint, and see if he will give you his paw. If not, gently encourage him by tapping the back of his leg (where his ankle might be) until he lifts his paw. Click the clicker and treat! Repeat this until he can lift his leg without you needing to tap the back of it, and can rest it in your open palm.

Once he has mastered this, he understands that by lifting his leg, he is getting treated. The clicker also reinforces the good behaviour. Next you want to change the position of you hand so that it is up higher, to the left of his head and upright in a 'halt gesture'. He already understands the aim of the game is to lift his leg and touch your hand, he just needs to lift it higher. If this isn't automatic, sometimes tickling the bottom of his foot whilst he is halfway up can help him rise his leg higher. With your hand in this gesture, say out loud and firmly "High Five". As he raises his foot higher to tap your hand, click and treat and give plenty of praise. Remember to always say the command "High Five" and to always click and treat. You do not need to feed the treat all the time, just licking it is a treat to them! After a couple of repeats, your puppy should high five you without any need for a treat, or the clicker. Now you have a fun and cute trick to show to family and friends, and a mentally stimulated and happy puppy. Have fun!