Teaching “TOUCH” or Hand Targeting

The touch cue is a FUN and EASY behavior to teach your dog with so many uses!

  • It can help you with loose leash walking. 
  • I can help you call your dog to come to you. 
  • It is also great for training new behaviors and tricks.  
  • You can use it to teach your dog to SPIN or weave in between your legs   
  • It is also useful for times when your dog is curious, but slightly cautious about a new object. 
  • It’s a great exercise for shy dogs to help build confidence with strangers and being handled. 
  • Service dogs are trained to turn light switches on and off are first taught to touch/target a sticky note.   

How To Teach Touch:  

  • Hold your hand open or two fingers close to your dog’s nose. 
  • When your dog touches your hand with their nose, say “YES!” (Or click) and reward your dog with a treat from the opposite hand. 
  • Make sure you mark (“YES!” or click) the touch precisely when your dog touches your hand.  
  • Timing must be precise!
  • Use a specific hand gesture to invite your dog to touch your hand, otherwise your dog might always attempt to touch your hand. (We don’t want to create “un-invited” touches, only when we play the game.)     

Once your dog has repeated the touch exercise several times, and is doing it reliably, add the verbal cue “TOUCH.”  

  • Start slowly raising the criteria by changing your hand position, body position, position of your dog, and from different distances, etc. 
  • You can also switch hands for touch. (Left and Right) 
  • You can use a target such as a plastic container top, a sticky knote or a target stick

If your dog is succeeding, make it a little harder each time. If your dog is having a difficult time, make it easier.   



Tip Sheet:  Hand Targeting

How to Teach Your Pet to Target

How (and why) to Teach Your Dog to Touch Your Hand

Ways To Use Hand Targeting

Target Training Tips from 4 Paws University

Helping Shy Dogs Blossom with Target Training

Six Ways I Messed Up My Dog’s Hand Targeting!


Teaching a Puppy to Hand Target

Teaching Your Dog Hand Targeting

Training the Shedd Way

Target Training with Ken Ramirez

Leave a Reply