Teaching your dog to touch her nose to your outstretched hand—is a fun, easy training project, and it proves useful in a variety of situations. For example, after you teach your dog to hand target, you can use this skill to guide her onto a scale at the vet’s office, lead her through doorways when she’s nervous, prompt her to jump off of furniture and ask her to hop into your car. You can use hand targeting to teach entertaining tricks, too. You can even use hand targeting to help dogs with behavior problems focus on you when they’re feeling afraid, anxious or aggressive.
1. Using your thumb as a treat dispenser hold a treat securely into position over hand. Fold thumb over treat and leave the rest of the hand free to create a touch target area for your dogs nose. Keep a flat palm with fingers together and pointing towards the floor.
2. Once his attention is lured on the treat and his behavior is moving towards the hand, command “TOUCH”. At the exact moment when the nose makes contact with the hand say: ‘YES’ and then treat.
3. Repeat exercise 10x during the walk. Wait until he looks away before starting again. 4. Repeat this exercise in at least 3 different locations around your home.
5. Increase the distance between you and your dog (on leash) and repeat exercise.
6. Now, lets begin to phase out the dependence on having food. Pretend to have a treat in your hand. When he gives you a fast “TOUCH”, mark the behavior by saying YES then show him that your hand was empty, wait a moment, then pull a jackpot of treats out of your treat pouch and give them to him with your other hand.
7. As your dog gives you a reliable “TOUCH” you can slowly wane off treats offering a reward every other time, every third time, every fourth etc.