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Learn the Touch Cue
By: Shawna Gallagher, ABCDT ~ 3/6/2015

One of my favorite things to teach clients and their dogs is the touch cue which is also known as targeting. Dogs are naturally curious animals which makes learning this cue fairly simple. This cue has many different applications which is why I like it so much. It's great for mental stimulation, improving confidence, teaching new tricks or games, and it helps tremendously with shy/nervous dogs to see an approaching hand as something positive rather than a threat.

Equipment needed:

  • 10 - 15 small pea size training treats
  • Clicker (if your dog is not clicker trained you can still do this, you will just need to replace the "click" with a soft "yes")
  • Your hand

Triton Touch Cue 1.jpgThe Set Up:

I prefer if the dog is either sitting or lying down for this activity. Most dogs do not like a hand approaching from above so I recommend that you picture a horseshoe with your dog's head in the middle. This will be the area you will present you hand for targeting. I like to present 2 fingers to the dog for targeting because it does not look like any other hand signal that I use. For this stage of training we are just asking that the dog move its head from side to side or down. 

Ready!   Set!   Train!


Triton Touch Cue 2.jpgStep 1:
Treats ready? Clicker ready? Dog ready? Great!! Start by presenting your hand to your dog. As your dog goes into investigate your hand and touches it click & treat. Even if the touch is by accident! 

Step 2: Take your hand away, putting it behind your back, wait a moment and then present it again. When your dog goes in to sniff your hand click & treat.

Step 3: Repeat this exercise until all of the treats are gone. Just the 10 - 15 you picked up for the exercise not all of the treats in the house!

Step 4: I am a big fan of communicating to your dog when the training session is over. I do this by waving my hand(s) and saying "all done" then tossing a couple of treats off to the side. At this point, while the dog is busy I collect up any training materials and put them away. This completes the signal to the dog that the training session is done.

I would recommend that you practice this 10 - 12 times over the first week. When and only when your dog has figured out that touching your hand equals a click & treat you can add the verbal cue. You do this by saying "touch" as soon as your dog goes in to touch your hand and then you click & treat. After another 10 - 12 sessions you can remove the clicker and just say "touch" and then treat.

In order for you dog to prefect this cue you will need to practice it everywhere! Start in one room of the house and progress to other rooms of the house. After your dog preforms this cue all throughout the house you can then take it on the road! If you go to fast and your dog does not respond you may be asking too much too fast. Go back a couple of steps and do a review. Keeping in mind that the more distractions and distance there is the harder it is. It's okay to go back a couple of steps.

Most of all have Fun Training!