Touch targeting is where you get the dog to TOUCH an object with a part of the body - in this page I describe how I get Bella to TOUCH my hand on command
Teaching HAND TARGETING
- I start by holding my open hand out at Bella's nose level, palm facing her
- when Bella sniffs or licks my hand I reward, curiosity usually made her successful the first time!
- I always make sure her nose actually touches my hand – an 'almost' touch does not get rewarded and I have to be quick to reward the instant her nose makes contact with my hand. If I reward too soon, I will teach Bella to stop before she touches, if I reward too late, I will be teaching her that moving her nose away is the behaviour I want.
- Bella picked this up very quickly but if you get a dog that doesn’t sniff/lick/touch your hand, try putting some nice smelly treat on your hand to make more enticing.
- when teaching this behaviour a common stumbling block is that after touching a few times the dog may start to ignore the hand its supposed to touch, and start to focus on the hand where the treat comes from. To get over that just keep changing hands or hide your treat hand out of the way, if the dog is still looking for the treat hand, break the session for a rest and try again.
- once Bella is consistently touching my hand with her nose, I then add the TOUCH command
- I say TOUCH just as Bella's nose touches my hand, and then reward
- repeating that lots Bella will eventually TOUCH on command
- once Bella is doing TOUCH on command I start to challenge her by asking her to TOUCH while my hand is moving. I back away from her, offer my hand for target and ask her to TOUCH, as she gets up to follow me, I keep moving slowly backward and when she catches up with me and touches my hand on the move, I reward.
- I also do lots of variations on the moving target by holding my hand to each side, lower, higher, toward the floor, hold it quite high so she has to jump up to touch it, I hold my hand above a chair, so she has to place her front feet on the chair to reach up and touch it ... you get the idea! Doing lots of variations on TOUCH sets a good foundation for alot of assistance tasks, as Bella will have to TOUCH in lots of different situations
- I always make it fun, give lots of praise and end on a positive ... and always use my RELEASE command so Bella knows we are finished