Guide To Teach Your Dog Hand Targeting

Hand targeting is an extremely useful skill to teach your dog. Once your dog understands the basic behavior, you can teach your dog a handful of tricks!

What Is Hand Targeting?

Hand targeting is exactly what it sounds like: your hand is the target, and your dog learns to target well. When you are presented with an outstretched hand, your dog touches the nose. If you’ve ever seen an agility contest, you’ve noticed how the handler often uses his hand to guide his dog through obstacles.

Why is it useful?

Teaching your dog to touch his nose with his palm can be useful in different situations. You can use it to guide your dog on a scale to the vet, to guide him through a crowded room or to jump on and off furniture. It can also be called “coming” and as a way to focus on a nervous or aggressive dog.

How do I teach my dog to wash his hands?

Just like with any other behavior, you will need treats and patience to get your hand down. Once you have cut pea-sized treats from something your dog likes and chosen a quiet place, you can proceed with the following steps:

1. Hold an empty hand about six inches from your dog’s nose. Make sure your hand is level with your dog’s nose. Most dogs move to their hand to investigate. As soon as you touch your palm, say ” yes!” and reward them with a treat from your other hand.

Note: If your dog is not moving towards your hand, you can make the first touches by rubbing a treat on your hand (so that it smells more desirable) or by taking your hand off and presenting it again a few seconds after to get your dog’s attention.

2. repeat the first step several times until you are sure that your dog touches your hand at a distance of six inches. Now you can present your hand in different places. Try a few centimeters to the left or right of your nose, towards the floor and above your head. Do not forget ” yes!” and reward them every time.

3. Once your dog reliably touches your hand, you can add a verbal hint such as “touch”, “aim” or “here”. “Say the keyword before presenting your hand, and reward your dog if he touches you.

You should practice several times a day for a week or two. Present your hand 15-30 times per session should last no more than 5 minutes. now is the time to train in more distracting places like busier spaces in your home, in your garden or during walks. When your dog is action, return to practice in a quieter room until your confidence is regained.

The fun part

Now that your hand has essentially become a dog magnet, you can train your dog to do a variety of tricks, including “jump”, “spin” and “say hello”. “Hand targeting can also be used to teach your dog to play hide and seek and even close a door. The idea is that if you can train your dog to “touch” your hand, you can also make him touch other objects / people.