Something that I love to do with my dog is target training, and a good way to start is by teaching the “touch” command, which consists of your dog simply touching your hand with his or her nose when prompted. This can be a good command to have in your tool belt when working on new activities such as agility, but most importantly, it’s also just a fun little game! I’ve added pictures below of what “touch” looks like, both a simple version and a more challenging one. Sasha especially likes it when I give her more of a challenge.
Below are the steps to teaching “touch”. It’s really very simple:
- Hold up your hand, palm out, towards your dog. Don’t say anything, and just wait for him or her to sniff your hand and touch it with their nose in any way. When they do, mark it with praise or a click, and give a treat. I personally like using a clicker because it is very precise, and I can mark the exact moment that Sasha’s nose touches my palm. (Note: Some dogs may take longer to actually touch your hand, or will never get close enough to touch it at first. If this is the case, reward them for getting closer to your hand. Give them a treat each time for getting closer, until eventually they actually put their nose on it.)
- Keep doing this until they understand what is expected and consistently touch your hand every time you put it out.
- Now, you can add a cue word. I simply say “touch”. Say your cue word and then put your hand out for them to touch. If you do these things simultaneously, your dog will likely only be watching your body language and will tune out your voice.
- Practice! Your dog will soon learn what “touch” means, and you can make it more exciting by putting your hand in the air for them to jump for it, or behind your back.