How To Teach Your Dog or Cat To High Five

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 11/26/20 •  12 min read
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You’ve probably seen those shows or videos where a dog or cat does a high five. How cute they are! Have you wondered how to teach your dog or cat to do a high five, or even a high 10? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

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Benefits of Teaching Pets Tricks

Why would you want to teach your dog or cat tricks? We all know that training our pets had many benefits, but what’s the value in teaching them to do tricks? When it comes to teaching dogs and cats to do tricks, there are numerous benefits. Let’s take a look:

1. Obedience and manners improve: both dogs and cats become more obedient (well, most of them and perhaps not all cats, who do tend to be more independent!). Training our pets makes them easier to deal with and more pleasant for everyone to be around. For instance, if your dog greets people by jumping on them, you can use a fun trick to distract him from this behavior. Your guests will be happy not to be jumped on and their attention will also be turned to the dog and how cute his tricks are! That’s one example. Your pets will have better manners overall.

2. Improved health: we’re not kidding—training you cat or dog to do tricks can make them healthier and in better shape. Many tricks involve balance, flexibility, and concentration. Your pet will gain stronger muscles and stamina, depending on the type of tricks you teach them. Who would have thought?

3. Mental stimulation: wild canines and cats are always on the prowl for something, be it food or a mate, etc. They’re intelligent animals. Our pets are also intelligent and need some mental stimulation to avoid becoming bored and depressed. They need activities such as playing and training to help them focus their energy in a positive way. In fact, some bad behaviors can be cured by spending more time with your pet and redirecting their energy through training.

4. Building relationship: when you and your pet work together, you’re building a relationship with them. Training, if done in a positive, gentle manner, can be the foundation of trust and creating that interspecies communication link in a way you both understand. Cats and dogs are communicative. Doesn’t your dog bark when excited to see you? That’s his hello! Cats meow when they’re happy to see their pet parents. Again, this is their greeting! Or they readily communicate when they’re hungry, tired, etc. Training creates a communication and relational link between you and your dog or cat. Bonding takes place between you and your pet. The more often you teach & having training sessions, the more your fur baby will learn even faster. Why? Because they enjoy interacting with you and they learn to understand your “training language.”

Working in in a positive way with your pet will bring enjoyment and bonding to you both! Even through high five training!

How Does a Dog High Five?

That’s a good question and we’re going to show you how teach dog to give high five. But first, you may wonder why it’s a good idea to train a dog to give a high five. One reason is to give him a way to express happiness and excitement when he’s done something new. Or for you to share your happiness and pleasure with him. Perhaps you’re watching a football game and your team scores. You’re with your best bud (your fur baby) and can turn to them and do a high five to celebrate the score! In other words, it gives you and your dog a way to celebrate and show happiness together. And it’s a way to bring smiles to others. Who can keep from smiling when they see a dog do a high five?

What You’ll Need to Train Your Dog

Here’s a short list of what you’ll need to train your pup:

One more thing—it’s a good idea that your dog knows how to sit. If not, then train him to do this first. Why? Because he’ll need to be in a sit and stay position to start the high five training. Your pup will need to keep his balance during the high five and sitting with three feet on the ground gives him that balance. Now we’re ready to start!

Train Your Dog to do a High Five

Here are the steps you can take to train your canine companion to give a high five:

1. Have your dog sit, and then you stand in front of him. Don’t forget to reward him with a treat for obeying the sit command!

2. Put a treat in your hand, and then close your hand into a fist, with the thumb covering the opening at the bottom of your index finger. Your fur baby will be able to smell the treat, but shouldn’t be able to get at it.

3. Hold your fist in front of your dog’s nose, but not too close. Wait for your fur baby to paw at your hand. When he does mark this behavior with the clicker (meaning “Yes, you did the right thing!”) and let him have the treat. Repeat this process several times until he understands what he’s supposed to do.

4. Now, you’re ready to start using the “high five” command! Make a fist again, with the treat concealed inside. Just before your pup begins to paw at your hand, say “High Five!” When his paw touches your hand, use the clicker and then let him have the treat. Repeat this several times until he has it down.

5. Now, you’re ready to try the trick without holding a treat in your hand. Hold your hand out, with fingers pointing up and palm facing your dog. Say “High Five!” and then click when your fur baby paws at your hand. Give him a reward right away for being so good! Keep repeating this process until he has it learned.

If your fur baby becomes fidgety during the training session, then it’s best to take a break. In fact, keeping the training time to about 10-15 minutes is a good idea. Your dog can stay focused for that long, and then have a short break to release some energy. You don’t want this to be a dreaded exercise. Instead, you want it to stay positive and upbeat. Let him have a break and then you can try to get back to training. Remember that all dogs are individuals and learn at their own pace.

Some dogs will learn more slowly while others will learn at the speed of light. Go at your dog’s pace to keep this a fun, bonding activity for you both!

How to Teach Your Dog to High Ten

Now that you’ve both mastered the high five, what about a high 10? Some dogs will love it, while others won’t. If your dog is on the younger and more energetic side, the high 10 might be a great challenge for him! The high 10 involves your dog learning how to stand on his back legs for a few seconds, while his front paws touch your hands. It takes some balance and agility for this version of the high five. That’s why we recommend this trick for younger, more energetic dogs. Older dogs or dogs who have bad hips will not be able to manage this trick.

Another note, it may be easier to train your dog to give you a high 10 if he’s already learned how to do the high five!

1. Have your dog start from the sit position. With a treat in one hand, ask your dog for a high five, like normal. Then encourage them to make the high five with the other paw. Don’t let your fur baby have the treat until they touch your hands with both paws. It’s a good idea to let your dog use your hands for balance, because they’ll have to stand or sit back on their hind legs in order to give the high 10.

2. Repeat this several times until your dog understand how to give the high 10 (a high 5 with both paws). That’s it! Now you can both enjoy giving high fives and high tens! Great work!

How to Teach Cat to Give High Five

You may think it’s impossible to train a cat to give a high five or do anything else! Of course, some cats are more independent and may not enjoy being trained. However, if you have a social cat who loves attention and being with you, then chances are she’ll enjoy working with you to learn something new! All you can do is give it a try. Just like dogs, all cats are different, with some learning at a faster speed than others. Be sure to work at your cat’s pace. If she seems to become agitated or irritable after a time, then it’s best to stop and try again at another time. Go at her pace, keep it fun and you both may just enjoy this fun bonding activity.

What You’ll Need to Train Your Cat to High Five

You don’t need anything special, but these can help:

Now you’re ready to start!

Train Your Cat to Do a High Five

Remember when training to have a lot of patience. Let’s get started:

1. Have your cat start in the sitting position. When she complies correctly, give her praise and a treat.

2. Place her favorite treat in one of your hands, then close your hand into a fist. She should be able to smell the treat but not be able to get it. She will probably try to sniff or paw at your hand. That’s OK! That’s the start of the high five! If she lifts her paw, then praise her and give her a treat. Repeat this process several times until she has the idea.

3. Next, you’ll want to use a verbal cue when she’s touching her paw to your hand. Again, start with her favorite treat in your fist. Hold your fist in front of your cat’s nose, but not touching. Just before she reaches her paw to your hand, add the verbal cue “High Five!” If she touches her paw to your hand, praise her and give her the treat. Wow—you guys are doing great! Now repeat this process several times until she’s got it down.

4. Once you’ve come this far, it’s time to reshape your hand, without holding a treat. Hold your hand fingers up and palm facing your fur baby. Now, give the verbal cue “High Five!” and if she touches her paw to your palm, praise her and give her a treat. Repeat this step several times. It may take a bit, but she’ll get there if you are patient with her and make this a fun activity for you both.

How to Clicker Train a Cat to High Five

If you’d like to use a clicker to train your cat to give a high five, go through the steps above. When she makes the correct move, use the clicker to signal “Yes,” then praise her and give her the treat. That’s all you have to do! If you keep this a fun activity, she’ll soon learn to give the high five, as you both have fun working together.

Training your dog or cat (or both) to give a high five can be a fun, fulfilling activity for you both. Remember to have patience and go at your pet’s pace. It’s always a good idea to keep the training sessions short. Soon you’ll be able to share happiness and excitement with your pet via the high five! You’ll also both have a fun, cute trick to make others smile! What could be better?

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.

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