By Andrea Arden
How to Teach Your Dog Hand-Targeting
- Present your hand approximately six inches away from your dog at his nose level. Most dogs will investigate with a nose touch. Mark and reward with a treat from your other hand and be careful not to position that hand too close to your dog’s face. To begin, hide it behind your back to avoid distracting him.
- If your dog doesn’t touch your hand, refrain from pushing your hand toward him. Simply move it a bit, touch it yourself, or remove it and re-present it to encourage investigation.
- Repeat a few times. Most dogs make a quick connection between touching your hand and getting a reward and will repeat when you present your hand again.
- When you are confident your dog will touch your hand at six inches away, add the cue word “touch” just prior to presenting your hand.
- Now practice moving your hand a bit farther away so your dog has to stretch a bit to reach it. Some dogs are fine with an increase of six inches at a time, others need to go one inch at a time.
- When this is reliable, refrain from rewarding unless you have given the verbal cue. This way, your dog learns to touch your hand when requested.
- Practice moving your hand on different sides of your dog and in different areas of the home.
- Practice outdoors in various environments.
Andrea Arden, CPDT
Andrea Arden Dog Training
New York, NY
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