Teaching a Nose to Hand Target aka: Touch

Hand targets are useful behavior for so many reasons, leash walking when we need our dogs to change directions, move around, stay close and you can use to reset when your dog moves ahead, end of a recall, when other people stick their hand in your dog’s face, they know to touch it and come back to you.

Looking for your dog to touch their nose to the palm of your hand fingers pointing downward can be confusing when first starting this behavior.

To start, present and hold your hand close to your dogs nose, if your dog looking towards or moving to your hand, mark and treat

Make sure to remove your target hand after each mark and treat, it helps to reset and keeps your dog interested.

Repeat 10-15 times 

As your dog figures this out, you want them to touch or “bump” your palm with their nose, do your best to mark as their nose touches your palm, remove your hand and reward. Repeat.

Continue working, when you’re getting a reliable response of touch to your palm, begin moving your hand in different positions. Try left, right, slightly higher (watch out for jumping) and lower. Make sure not to move a head too fast, go at your dog’s pace.

Next level: Hand Target – Adding Cue 

When your dog is purposely touching your hand, with their nose, when your hand is presented you’re ready to add your cue “TOUCH” (it can be any word you would like). 

What it will look like:

Present your hand and cue TOUCH as your dog moves to your hand

Click/mark the moment you feel your dogs nose on your palm

Remove the target (your palm) and reward

Repeat 10 – 15 times

Take a break, do it again 

Final level: Hand Target – Moving

Next, will be getting your dog moving, to start we are just looking for one to two steps.

  • Next, begin to offer your hand a few inches from the dog’s nose so that he has to move a short
    distance to touch it.
  • Continue to practice until the dog will move a short distance in order to touch your hand.
  • If the dog stands still or sits, try tossing a treat behind him, then as soon as he turns back toward
    you offer your hand.
  • Alternate hands, practicing with both right and left hands.