There are a lot of tricks you can teach your dog, but this is a great starting point! Touch targeting is exactly what it sounds like- it teaches your dog to touch their nose to something on demand. That might not sound very useful, but think about all the possibilities! It can help with training future tricks as they become used to touching a specific spot. This training can also be quite helpful to distract your dog from other undesirable behaviors without scolding or yelling! (You can also use it to encourage excellent or new behaviors!)
Start with Hand Targeting
Teaching this trick is super easy! All you need is your hand and some treats. (Oh yeah, and your canine best friend, of course!) It’s easiest to start with your hand.
- Hold one hand open and close to your dog’s nose.
- Hold the treat in your other hand and say “Touch”
- As soon as your dog’s nose touches your palm, give them the treat and lots of love and praise!
- Do this several times in a row. (5-10 times is a good start!)
- Practice this every day, in different locations!
- When they start to catch on, move your hand a little further away each time, so they have to step towards you.
- After they seem to have a good grasp on it, start doing the exercise without the treat, but keep all the praise and love!
- Continue practicing without treats until they have it mastered!
That’s all there is to it! It’s just that simple!
Targeting Other Objects
Now that they’ve mastered touching the hand, you can move on touching objects. One of the easiest ways to help transition this trick is to use a post-it note.
- Start by sticking a post-it note to your hand, and practice the touch command that way for a few sessions.
- Move the post-it note to the other objects you’d like your dog to touch, (Like the door or a guest’s hand.)
- Use the name of the object in the command. (“Touch Get the Door”, “Say Hello – Touch”)
- Reward with a treat and praise just like before!
- Over time, you can drop the Touch from the command (“Get the Door”, “Say Hello”)
The possibilities for this trick are endless. Wouldn’t it be nice if your dog could turn off the lights or shut the door for you? It can also offer an alternative to unwanted barking or jumping as a greeting. Your dog will feel more confident, and the two of you will have an easier time communicating. It’s a great start for more complicated tricks or basic obedience training. If you only teach your dog one trick, make it this one!