Monday, October 4, 2010

To Touch or be Touched Part 2

One of the fundamental exercises I teach in my dog training classes is targeting.  Targeting refers to teaching your dog to touch a “target.” It can be an open hand, your fingers or a target stick. It is a simple behavior that has a wide variety of applications and is very versatile. Once you teach your dog to target your hand, it is easy to move on to touching other objects. I like to use the word “touch” as my verbal cue. Teaching your dog to touch a person’s open hand can help with:

1) Overcoming hand shyness and building confidence to approach strangers.  This is great for shy dogs or the fearful dog.

2) Teaching dogs to walk by your side by touching your palm when it is next to your body.

3) Teaching dogs to approach strange objects

4) Teaching dogs to open and shut doors and other objects

5) Teaching dogs to touch or ring a bell to go potty.

6) Teaching dogs to follow your hand to go up ladders, through hoops and other agility props.

7) To help redirect your dog’s attention from something else (barking dog, scary person, etc)

8) Using it as a form of recall (come to you). Many dogs are more responsive to “touch” then the word “come.”

Here is a video explaining how to teach your dog to target and a series of clips showing how the “touch” command can be applied to different circumstances:

Los Angeles Dog Trainer:


  1. touch has become one of our reliable commands that has helped tula learn to greet people, refocus her attention, and move into different position- great post!

  2. Targeting is awesome!!!

    works great with horses too. :)
    Here's one of ours with very little training who is learning to target scary objects.