Teaching your dog to “target”

“Target” or “touch” is one of my favorite things to teach to my clients and their dogs. It is really useful as a back up for “come” or when for when you are far away from your dog and need him/her to come to you. You can also use it for situations like getting your dog off the couch without having to physically move him/her or for getting your dog onto the scale at the vet. If you decide to get into agility, “target/touch” is great for guiding your dog through an agility course.

First, decide what word you will use. Any word works (target, touch, here), just make sure you choose one that you and your family members will use consistently.

Then, to train “target/touch”:

1. Extend your palm towards your dog and wait for him/her to sniff it.

2. Click and treat.

3. Once he/she will touch your hand 8-9 times out of 10, add the word “target/touch? before you offer your hand.

When you get to the point of adding the command word, you can start moving your hand to either side, and then further away. Don’t change your hand position until your dog has mastered the previous position (8-9 times out of 10). If you go a few steps away and your dog looks at you like he/she has no idea what you are asking for, move closer.

* If your dog won’t sniff your hand after 3-5 seconds, move your hand closer. If that doesn’t work, remove your hand and re-try. As a last resort, try dabbing a little bit of peanut butter or smearing a little bit of something tasty on your hand!