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Using Hand Targets to Train Fun Tricks and Commands

Using Hand Targets to Train Fun Tricks and Commands

Discovering the Power of “Touch”

As a proud dog owner, I’ve always been fascinated by the endless possibilities of dog training. One of the most versatile and effective techniques I’ve discovered is the art of hand targeting, or as I like to call it, the “touch” command. This simple yet powerful trick has not only transformed my pup’s behavior but has also opened up a whole new world of fun and engaging training exercises.

It all started when I stumbled upon a thread on the r/Dogtraining subreddit, where fellow dog enthusiasts were raving about the wonders of the “touch” command. One user shared their experience of teaching their dog, Badger, this incredible trick. I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to give it a try with my own furry companion.

Mastering the “Touch” Command

I began my training journey with a fresh slate, not uttering the word “touch” at all during the first few sessions. Instead, I simply rewarded Buddy (my dog) with a resounding “yes!” and a tasty treat whenever he touched his nose to my outstretched hand. This reinforcement-based approach allowed him to quickly grasp the concept without any confusion.

As Buddy gained confidence, I started to mix things up. I moved my hand to different heights and positions, challenging him to stay focused and responsive. To my delight, he rose to the occasion, even standing up on his hind legs to reach my hand when I held it high. I couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride as I watched my pup’s progress.

Expanding the “Touch” Repertoire

Once Buddy had a solid handle on the basic “touch” command, I decided to take it to the next level. I began incorporating the cue into other training exercises, using it as a foundation for more complex tricks and commands. As the ASPCA suggests, hand targeting can be a powerful tool for teaching a range of fun and engaging tricks, from “bow” to “spin” and beyond.

One of the areas where the “touch” command really shone was in improving Buddy’s recall. You see, he had a tendency to zoom past me during high-speed recall training, leaving me frustrated and concerned for his safety. But with the “touch” command in our arsenal, I could now use my hand as a lure, guiding him back to me with precision. Reddit users have even shared creative alternatives to the standard “come” command, like “beep beep,” which can add an extra layer of excitement and engagement to the training process.

Unleashing Creativity with Hand Targets

As Buddy and I continued to refine the “touch” command, I discovered that the possibilities were truly endless. Working Goats and Susan Garrett’s blog provided a wealth of inspiration, suggesting creative ways to incorporate hand targets into all sorts of tricks and commands.

From “behind” (where Buddy learns to move from in front of or beside me, around to my back) to “spin” and “bow,” the “touch” command became the foundation for a diverse repertoire of behaviors. I even started using it as a way to reward Buddy during our daily walks, tapping my hand and treating him for checking in with me.

The Joy of Training with Hand Targets

As I reflect on my journey with the “touch” command, I can’t help but feel a renewed sense of excitement and joy in the training process. What was once a source of frustration has now become one of the most rewarding aspects of my relationship with Buddy. The bond we’ve built through this simple yet powerful trick is truly priceless.

If you’re a dog owner looking to spice up your training routine, I highly recommend exploring the world of hand targets. Not only is it a fantastic way to teach fun and engaging tricks, but it can also significantly improve your dog’s focus, responsiveness, and overall well-being. Who knows, you might just discover a new level of connection with your furry friend, just like I did with‘s Buddy.

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