This a ‘good choice’ training game. It is working your dog’s brain to choose a behaviour and then when your dog chooses the correct behaviour your dog gets rewarded. Good choice training is excellent for building a dog’s confidence and the good choice behaviours are more likely to be repeated again and again. This is a game for your dog to touch your hand with it’s nose with the verbal cue of ‘touch’. There are many benefits which I have listed below before giving a step by step method of how to train your dog to do this.
- Approaching hands can cause nervousness in puppies and adult dogs, when people reach to touch them. This training helps them to associate hand movement in a positive way
- It boosts your dog’s confidence as it’s an empowering choice game
- To keep a dog’s attention onto you, away from distractions
- A great target to add to your recall
- It’s a nice calm cue to keep your dog occupied if you are in a waiting room situation
- Can be used as a say ‘please’ to obtain rewards of food, touch and other privileges
- It’s a target which can lead onto target training, to ring a bell, close doors, perform a spin and twist trick
- It’s a fun choice mental game and dogs love it!
- Get prepared with your treats and somewhere quiet to train
- You can position yourself sitting on a chair or standing in front of your dog.
- Scent up your left hand by rubbing in some meat (e.g. chicken, ham, sausage) or cheese.
- Present your hand in a firm horizontal position with your thumb facing up. This is always going to be your visual signal cue.
- When your dog touches your hand with its nose say ‘yes’
- Deliver a treat with your right hand from your pocket or treat pouch.
- Repeat and present your left hand again in the same position.
- Don’t be tempted to prompt your dog with a ‘cue’ yet just wait patiently for your dog to make the choice to touch your hand with it’s nose. Do not repeat the cue work, be patient and wait for your dog to process what it needs to do
- Hide your reward treat by holding your treat hand behind your back.
- After around 10 times add your cue by saying the word ‘touch’ once, again be patient your dog has a thought process to go through.
- Once your dog is actively doing the ‘touch’ on the verbal cue, you can proceed to hold your hand further away. Go back a stage if your dog is struggling.
- You can add this to your recall your dog to target the hand signal and cue of ‘touch’.
- You can also move your hand, so your dog follows. Have a play around with the touch cue, mark and then reward each touch.
Once your dog knows the ‘touch’ cue well, you can move around, change positions and add varying heights but always keep the hand in the same position giving a consistent visual cue to your dog
Troubleshooting – If it’s not going to plan
- You may have your hand too far away from your dog at the beginning of your training
- Your hand may not be in the exact same position
- Your session is too long, five minutes is ample time per session to start off with
- Your dog is watching the feeding hand, so apply some food scent to the other hand and juggle up which hand you use for touch
Have fun with your dog. Just twenty minutes quality time working together per day (2 x 10 minutes) in combination with your walks and enrichment toys will keep your dog happy and relaxed.