One of the top questions we get asked when new puppy parents are about to leave with their newest family member, is “what is the first thing we should teach him or her?” Many people think the answer would be to sit or come. However, we here at American Doodles in Trenton, Texas believe that the best thing to teach your puppy first is what is called “hand targeting”
What is Hand Targeting?
Hand targeting is the simple act of touching your hand to your dog’s nose. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, yes. It is! Targeting can be used as a foundation for so many behaviors that we want our sheepadoodles to learn, from walking nicely on the leash to coming when called.
How do You Start Training?
- Have a treat handy. The treat needs to be in the opposite hand that you will be training with.
- Hold your hand palm out, either horizontally or vertically.
- Place your palm up to your dog’s nose. Most dogs will instinctively want to come and sniff it.
- Once they have made contact with your palm, say “good girl/boy” or “yes!” to reinforce good behavior.
- Give them a treat.
- Repeat these steps until your furbaby automatically touches your hand when your palm is presented.
- Next, add distance and follow the same steps.
- Finally, after distance has been achieved, add a verbal cue such as “touch” when presenting your palm.
How Can Hand Targeting be Useful?
We have found that hand targeting allows your pet to focus or refocus on you when they need to be calmed or change a behavior. This is especially helpful when you are going to the vet or to get groomed. It can also be used if your sheepadoodle is starting to pull on the leash during a walk. Using the touch cue will redirect them from where they were pulling towards. This can also be used to train your dog to not jump up on people when greeting them. Dog’s get excited to see new people. Teaching your sheepadoodle the cue touch or even “say hi” can teach your dog to walk up to the person and touch their nose to the person’s hand instead of jumping up. Just remember to always give them a treat as a reward.
Target training can be used for a variety of other training techniques to help relax and redirect your dog so that they are calm and comfortable. Targeting is an excellent way for your puppy to practice focusing his/her attention on you. For other tips or tricks or if you are looking at adding another family member to your home contact us here at American Doodles!