Teaching Your Dog to Target
I love to teach my dogs to target. This trick/skill is useful in many facets throughout my dog’s lives. Targeting can also be built upon to teach other skills and more intricate skills, it is a building block to good obedience!
What You Will Need
- Great treats
- Your dog
- I like teaching this command with very few distractions so find a secluded area
- At first I like to teach my dog to target or “touch” my hand
- Put treats in one hand or in a treat bag or your pocket
- With the opposite hand, open it wide with your fingers to the side and put it in front of your dog’s face
- When your dog touches his nose to your hand or sniffs at your palm, click and treat
- Continue opening and closing your hand, click and treat when your dog makes contact with your hand
- Keep doing this until your dog knows what he has to do to get you to click, now you may add the command “Touch”
- Next hold your hand higher up, over to the left, the right or behind your back
- Your dog should follow your palm wherever it is and touch it with his nose on command.
- If at first he has trouble understanding when you move your hand go back a step and be patient.
- Once your dog’s confidence is built and he understands the command you can have him repeat the behavior a few times before clicking and treating, then you can taper off the clicker.
This behavior can be used to help fearful dogs feel more confident in their environment, it also builds a foundation for retrieving, for delivering items to a specific area, it can be used for a competition send away, and even in agility.
I have a nervous dog, who is often afraid of things that he does not recognize. I can use the “touch” command and my hand to get him closer and closer to objects he would not normally approach. When my hand is on the object it gives him confidence to approach it because he trusts me. It is also an easy way to get his focus back on me when he is exhibiting apprehension!
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.