Teach your dog this adorable trick that involves his two favorite things: getting treats and using her nose!

He sits. He stays. But can your dog do tricks? Thanks to Kyra Sundance, trainer, world-class stunt dog performer and author of 101 Dogs Tricks, he’ll get a cool party trick down before dinner. Her easy-to-follow guide with full-color photos of each trick and its training steps, truly deserves its rave reviews on amazon.com. A must-read for every stage hand behind the pup (that’s you), 101 Dogs Tricks captures the joy of bonding with your dog while practicing tricks together.

Try Kyra’ classic “Which Hand Holds the Treat” trick and just like that, you’ll challenge those doggie brains and boost your pup/person communication. So go ahead, pick a paw, any paw. It’s easy.

Which Hand Holds the Treat

The trick: When presented with two closed fists, your dog sniffs each and indicates which hand holds the treat. You present your fists to your dog and encourage him to “get it” Then, reward your dog for showing interest in the correct hand.

This trick involves your dog’s two favorite things: using his nose and getting treats! Dogs usually catch on pretty quickly, but achieving a high rate of accuracy will require your dog to calm down and take the task seriously.

Here’s how you teach it:

  1. Using a treat with a strong smell, place it slightly exposed in one of your two fists. Face your dog with your fists at his chest height. Ask him “which hand?” and encourage him to “get it.”
  2. When your dog shows interest in your correct hand, either by nosing it for a few seconds or pawing at it, say “Good!” and open your hand to allow him to take the treat. Repeat with the treat in the other hand.
  3. If your dog shows interest in the wrong hand, tell him “whoops,” open that hand to show him it’s empty and stop the trick. Wait 30 seconds before trying again so that there are negative consequences for his incorrect choice.
  4. Increase the difficulty by covering the treat entirely with your hand, while still leaving an air hole for your dog to sniff.
  5. Wait until your dog is consistently choosing the correct hand before changing his indicator requirement from nosing your first to pawing at it. Keep your fists low to the ground. When your dog has indicated his choice with his nose, pull your other hand back and encourage him to paw at your correct hand by saying “get it.”


I think my dog is just guessing:  Overzealous dogs will be in such a hurry to get to the treat that they paw at the first hand they see. Try holding your fists above your dog’s head so he can sniff them but not paw them. After he has sniffed both, tell him to “wait,” lower your hands, and then ask “which hand?”

My dog scratches my hand: Let your dog know he scratched you by saying “ouch!”

The Scoop:

Many thanks to Kyra Sundance for the tip.

101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog. By Kyra Sundance and Chalcy

Originally published January 2009; reviewed and updated May 2017.