Nose Targeting to Hand

What you are training

You’re teaching the dog touch a target with his nose.

Why you should train this

  • The dog will associate a hand with good things
  • Recall; ask your dog to touch your hand from a distance
  • Follow a target into the car
  • It can be a distraction if your dog is nervous

How you will train this

You’ll use the dog’s natural curiosity to encourage the dog to touch a hand.  Dogs respond better to hand signals than verbal commands, but a verbal command is required in case he’s not looking at you when you want him to touch your hand.  Initially you’ll train the hand signal and later add a verbal command.  Your hand signal will be to hold your hand out to your side.  You need to know that the dog can touch the target reliably before adding a verbal command, that way you’re teaching a new behaviour FOLLOWED BY a new command, not both a new behaviour AND a new command at the same time.

Push, stick, drop?

Make sure that with each step of the training you know what your criteria is; what your dog needs to do in order to get a reward.

Perform each step 5 times.

  • If your dog gets it right at least 4 times you’re ready to push to the next step
  • If your dog gets it right 3 times, stick with this step until you can achieve a higher success rate
  • If your dog gets it right 2 times of less, drop back to the previous step

Using this method will allow you not only to quantify your success but to move through the training steps more quickly.

Step 1

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’) your dog as soon as his nose touches your hand.

  • Hold your hand to the side of and close to your dog’s face, but not touching his face
  • Your dog should investigate your hand, as soon as his nose touches your hand
  • Mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward
  • Repeat until your dog is deliberately touching your hand

Step 2

If your dog is reliably touching your hand when presented at least 80% of the time, you can add a verbal command.  Note that the verbal command comes before the hand signal.

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’) your dog as soon as his nose touches your hand.

  • Say your dog’s recall command
  • Hold your hand to the side of and close to your dog’s face, but not touching his face
  • As soon as his nose touches your hand
  • Mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward
  • Repeat until the dog understands the verbal command

Step 3

If your dog is reliably touching your hand when presented at least 80% of the time using the verbal command, you can vary the location of your hand.

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’) your dog as soon as his nose touches your hand.

  • Say your dog’s recall command
  • Hold your hand to the side of and close to your dog’s face, but not touching his face
  • As soon as his nose touches your hand
  • Mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward
  • Repeat 5 times with your hand in different locations

Help

  • If your dog shows no interest in your hand, rub a smelly treat on your hand to encourage sniffing.
  • If your dog is consistently failing to correctly perform the exercise 80% of the time, go back to the previous step.
  • Ensure that you give your dog lots of praise when giving him the treat.

Homework

  • Ask each member of the family to do these exercises with your dog (you can use your dog’s kibble and add treats intermittently).
  • Vary the locations where you do these exercises; different rooms in the house, in the garden, when you’re out for a walk.