Does your dog know how to target? If not, the two of you may be missing out on one of the most versatile behaviors to come along since the rise in popularity of the positive dog training philosophy.
Targeting simply means teaching your dog to touch a designated body part to a designated spot the end of a commercially produced target stick, your hand, an object, a location, or anything at all. While much targeting is done with the dog’s nose as the designated body part, you can actually teach your dog to touch with a front or hind foot, his hip, shoulder, ear, or any other moveable piece of his anatomy.
We teach nose targeting in my Basic Adult and Puppy classes. Whenever I introduce the exercise to a new group I get puzzled stares from most of the humans in the class. I can just see them thinking, “Why on earth would I want to teach my dog to do that?!” proof that the concept of targeting still has miles to go before gaining familiarity and acceptance in the mainstream pet dog community.
The list of reasons why you want to teach your dog to touch is as long as your arm, and then some. From the serious to the sublime, targeting is useful and fun for canines and humans alike. You can use targeting to teach good manners and dog behaviors such as “Go to your place” and to help your dog learn polite leash walking. “Touch
the target” can be used as an emergency recall, or your dog’s cue to ask to go outside.
It also has widespread application for a number of service dog behaviors, can be used to teach agility dogs to hit the contact zones, and give search dogs a tool to communicate that they’ve located sign of the missing person (or pet). Finally, targeting can come into play with an endless variety of entertaining tricks and games. There’s something for everyone.
Before you begin target training your dog, download the How to Walk Your Dog eBook today!