Hopefully you have been able to get your dog to target your palm. If he is able to follow your palm wherever it goes and touch it with his nose, he is ready to move on to target other objects.
What You Will Need
- A long object; dowel, stick, pen, or the end of a kitchen utensil
- The lid of a plastic container
Your dog already knows the basics of touching, now we must teach him to show this behavior with other objects.
- First I like to start with a pen, or a long stick-like object.
- Hold the pen out in front of his face
- When he moves toward or touches it, click and treat
- If he doesn’t touch it, move it closer or into a different position until he does
- Because he has done this with your hand this should move pretty quickly
- As he begins to understand move the pen around up, down, and to the left and right to ensure he comprehends.
- If he puts his mouth on it, you may click and treat or click and jackpot, this will lay the foundation for retrieving! If this is the direction you want to go in keep clicking and treating when he puts his mouth on it. (More on this type of retrieving later)
- You may now take the stick or pen to other objects and place it on them and have him touch.
- Next, I like to teach my dogs to transfer the touch to a Tupperware lid (you can even draw a target on it).
- Begin just like you did with your hand and with the pen by holding the lid up in front of him.
- When your dog’s nose touches the target click and treat
- Continue moving the target all around, your dog should readily follow it.
- Then put the target on the ground and give him the “touch” or target command.
- This may be a little more difficult, because he has always targeted things in your hand, but be patient.
- If he moves toward the target, click and treat
- If he touches the target click and JACKPOT!
- Continue until the behavior is reliable, then move the target farther away
- Click and treat for an appropriate response
- You may then move the target farther and farther away with successful training
- You can also try sticking it up on the wall and having him touch it with his nose
The sky is the limit with this command. As a Service Dog trainer, this was one of the first and favorite behaviors in my dog’s repertoire. From this behavior, I could teach my dogs to retrieve, to turn on lights, to push handicapped buttons with their noses, polish agility and many other useful behaviors!
Remember that trick training has two cardinal rules: Always be patient (if you need to, back up a step or two until your dog catches on) and HAVE FUN! Learning new behaviors and spending time with you is a dream come true for your dog, he enjoys feeling like he has a job and he is needed!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.