Hand Target (“Touch”)

“Touch” is a cue to get your dog to touch your hand with his nose. This cue is useful foundation for many more advanced behaviors. It gives you a way to capture your dog’s attention and direct his movements. Coming towards you to touch your hand is a great alternative recall. Touching someone’s hand to say “hello” is nicer than jumping on them!

How to Train It:

  1. Have lots of tiny treats on a table or in your pocket – not in your hands.
  2. Present your open hand or closed fist a couple of inches away from your dog’s face. Mark with “yes” and reward with a treat if your dog shows any interest in your hand, whether he touches his nose to your hand or just looks at your hand. After the first few times, mark and reward only for a full nose touch.
  3. Repeat until your dog reliably touches your hand.
  4. Add the verbal cue. Before presenting your hand say, “Touch!” and then put your hand out. Pause for a second between the cue and reaching out your hand.
  5. When your dog reliably responds to the verbal cue, you can begin to increase the distance between your dog’s head and your hand by a few inches.
  6. Keep increasing the distance little by little. Try moving your hand to different positions (higher, lower, use your other hand). Try the exercise in different rooms of your house. Finally, try it out in the world.

Tip! If your dog is ignoring your hand, don’t stare at your dog. Instead, turn all of your attention to your hand and wiggle your fingers. Wait your dog out and eventually she’ll investigate your hand to see what your find so interesting. As soon as she does, mark and reward your dog.