Allow me to introduce my all-time favorite training behavior: the subtle but mighty Hand Target! While one of the lesser-used techniques among owners, Hand Targeting has so many practical applications that it is well worth teaching it to your dog. Rather than explain it in writing, watch this video to see Hand Targeting in action.
Hand Targeting teaches your dog to touch his nose to your outstretched hand. “Why on earth would I want to do such a thing,” you ask? Once your dog can come to you and “boop” your hand, the possibilities for polite indoor and outdoor behavior are endless. For instance:
Having introduced the Emergency Recall in the previous blog post, now it’s time to practice it in a variety of real-life situations, so your dog will come back to you even if he spots a squirrel or slips from his collar. Click "Read More" to see the video of Beans learning Emergency Recall. The more you practice this, the more ingrained the “kiss-and-treat” sequence becomes in your dog’s mind, and the more easily he will be able to come back to you, no matter what.
When you start practicing Emergency Recall outside, choose a relatively quiet location. Make your kissy (or other unique) noise, and reach down to give your dog a treat regardless of what he’s doing. Once your dog clearly understands this sequence, you can start to add other elements.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY.