Positive Pet Training Blog Hop: Target Training and It's Uses

Posted on Tuesday, 4 March 2014

It's Bernie's mum here taking over the blog for the first time ever!

I wanted to tell you about target training and how the 'touch' command has helped Bernie and myself in learning new tricks and commands!

Bernie has known the 'touch' trick for a few months now. He picked it up ever so quickly. Here's how we did it just in case you'd like to give it a go with your dog. This works particularly well if your dog is food orientated like my Bernie is...
  1. Have some smelly treats at the ready
  2. Sit down in front of your dog, place a treat in one hand and make a fist
  3. Hold your fist out - your dog should instinctively go to that hand
  4. When his nose touches your fist, open your hand and give them the treat
  5. Repeat, having a treat in your hand each time
  6. Mix things up and put a treat in your other hand. Once you're sure they've got this bit, move onto the next step
  7. Now try placing the flat of your hand out with no treat - They should have learned that a 'touch' results in a treat - Continue to hold your hand there if it takes them a little longer to figure it out
  8. Always treat after your dog touches nose to hand
  9. You can use the flat of your hand or use two fingers as a signal like shown in our photo
  10. Once they've got it you can add the command 'touch' and have a bit of fun with it!
I found this trick to be a great stepping stone to other tricks...
  • It's been brilliant to use in recall training  - an area that has been a very stubborn one for Bernie
  • By placing my hand above his head whilst he is sitting we've taught him to 'sit pretty'
  • By moving my hand in a circle around him to make him follow we're also in the process of learning 'spin'
So, those are the basics! From there you can teach your dog to use their nose and even their paws to target your hands, feet, target stick, door... Anything you want to use as a target really!

We’re taking part in the Positive Pet Training blog hop kindly hosted by Cascadian NomadsDachshund Nola, and Tenacious Little Terrier! We've absolutely loved being a part of this blog hop today!


  1. Thanks for joining the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop Louise! I have never tried training the nose to hand with a treat in the fist before- which is much easier than the treat between the fingers of an open hand I have used when needing to lure the touch! Many on the hop have said how helpful hand to nose can be in recall and I had never thought of that either. I wonder if it will help my stubborn recall dog, Huxley? He loves the nose to hand game but is not so fond of coming when he is called. I'm going to test it out in the yard today! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your comment! We're so happy to be part of the blog hop. Mum can take the micky with the 'touch' command sometimes... Like last night when she wanted to file my nails... I saw the grinder in her hand and stood over the other side of the room in protest but then she put her hand out and said 'touch' and I totally fell for it! At least my nails look nice today :)

  2. It took me forever to teach sit pretty. I wonder if it would be easier with targeting. I may have to test it out with my foster dog.

  3. We might use this for a sit-pretty as well. Good idea! Though it will be hard to capture a nice sit before she starts jumping up. ;)

    Kali from A Dog in the Mountains

    1. I'd much rather jump up than sit pretty. Way more fun lol

  4. Spin is definitely something I want to work on with Donna as well. I've been trying to capture that behaviour but it really isn't working very well. :P

    1. Give the touch trick a go and let us know the results :)

  5. Teri says she will train us when she retires, hahameow! But treats now, we say!

  6. I've just started trying to teach Donna to spin using touch too! ;) Good luck with that!



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