This is a targeting exercise and it is one that your dog learns that if it does, “A” it gets, “B”. “A” in this case is touching its nose to your hand, “B” being a fantastic tasty treat and praise. It is essential that you let your puppy/dog works this out for itself, rather that you trying to influence its response. This is a great exercise to teach your puppy/dog to obtain its attention and to divert it away from something that may be causing it anxiety or stress. Touching you had should produce a jackpot response from you.
A few examples of when to use “touch”. I am sure that you can think of others.
- Re-focusing your puppy/dog on you rather than on another puppy/dog, or a jogger or cyclist.
- Moving your puppy/dog without having to grab its collar, (some puppies/dogs take a dislike to this and learn to avoid or react to it), or physically move it. This is particularly useful when at the Vets, it keeps anxiety levels lower.
- Giving your puppy/dog a safe and less invasive greeting method. This is especially good for children/people who are nervous around puppies/dogs and it keeps your puppy/dog on the floor rather than jumping up.
You will need about 12 small good quality high reward treats in your right hand, put this hand behind your back. Position your puppy/dog in to a sit or stand, right in front of you, so that it is looking towards you, not across you. Put your left hand slightly to the left side, (as you are looking at your puppy/dog, its right, your left) of its muzzle/nose. It should be about 2 inches away at this stage, perhaps closer for a smaller breed of puppy/dog. Wait, be patient, for your puppy/dog to nudge your hand with its nose/muzzle, then immediately give it a treat from your right hand, together with a “good boy/girl, well done”. Put your treat hand behind your back immediately. Repeat this until your puppy/dog is doing this consistently. It sometimes takes some puppies/dogs longer than others to work out to get the food. Do not move your hand to your puppy/dog; it needs to work this out for itself.
When your puppy/dog is doing this every time that you put your hand in this position, start using a target word. Anticipate when your puppy/dog is going to move its head to nudge your hand and simultaneously say your puppies’/dogs’ name and “touch”, then, “good boy/girl” and give a treat. Keep practicing until you can put your hand near to your pup’s/dog’s muzzle and he/she will nudge it on command. Always use the same command word, “touch” and praise reward words and treat.
When your puppy/dog is consistently reacting to your hand and your “touch” word, practice the exercise in a different environment.
When you change the parameters of a training exercise, making it harder, change part of it to make it more likely that your puppy/dog will succeed. For example, with this exercise, try it in the garden, but instead of expecting your puppy/dog to respond to your “touch” command, take a step backwards and practice from the stage 2 or if necessary, stage 1.
Progress this exercise by practicing in different places, when out on a walk etc. Make sure that you give your puppy/dog every opportunity to succeed and achieve the reward.
Copyright; Richard Grant, K9 Help, 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, forwarding electronically, without permission from the author.