Dog trick training: The “touch” command or hand target

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Dog trick training: The “touch” commandTeaching your dog the “touch” command = touching things with the nose or paw is a fairly easy and basic trick that comes in handy for many different things. It is also called “target training” for obvious reasons, because you teach your dog to target something, such as your hand.
This dog trick is a good basis,for example, for teaching your dog how to use a potty bell.



What you need:

  • your dog
    clicker or your marker word
    tiny treats

How to do it:

Step 1: Lure her into performing the desired action

Hold a treat in your closed hand in front of your dog’s nose and wait until it touches your hand to sniff it. If you are teaching the “touch” for the paw, wait until your dog tries to paw your hand to see what’s hidden inside.

Click and give the treat directly from that hand.

Repeat this exercise until your dog touches your closed hand reliably with either nose or paw when you holt the hand in front of her.

Step 2: Show her that the treat is not the Actual center of the exercise

In the next step try and hold your closed hand in front of your dog empty (without a treat in it). Hold the treat in your other hand hidden behind your back, for example, or just have it ready somewhere else, but out of sight for your dog. Showing the treat would distract your dog’s attention from the hand.
Your dog will likely try to find the treat again by bumping your hand again with the nose to sniff it or she will paw it again for the treat – depending on what you have trained before.

Click, show her that your hand is empty and reward while letting her WATCH how you take the treat from somewhere else (your other hand for example).

Repeat this exercise until she reliably touches your stretched out closed hand without a treat in it with her nose or paw.

Step 3: Introduce your command

Now is a good time to introduce your command. I use the word “Touch!”
Speak the command while you stretch out your closed hand.

Click and reward the desired interaction.
Repeat this until your dog touches your closed hand reliably on command.

Step 4: Move on to touching other things

Once you have accomplished this, try to let your dog touch something else, such as just your finger or objects you hold in front of her nose or paw.

Remember: If the next step does not work, you are probably just proceeding too quickly or your steps are too large. Break the exercise down into tiny steps.
If the next step does not work, simply practice the last step before that a little longer.
If your dog does not start to engage or just does not even do the very first step, try luring and reward even the tiniest movement into the direction you want.
Thus you make the tiny steps even tinier and eventually your dog will understand.
Keep your training sessions short and fun and don’t set your own expectations too high. This way you and your dog will always love it!

Good luck and have fun with teaching this trick. Learn how to use this new trick to teach your dog how to operate a potty bell in this post.

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