Teach “Touch” or “Hand Target to your Dog”
Why should I add this to my training regime?
- Helps nervous dogs approach people (our focus below)
- Gives your dog a proper way to say “hello”
- Allows them a way to focus when needed
- Provides a new way to communicate with your dog
- Stimulates brain
- Party tricks: for the advanced canine learner!
Our rescue started exploring touch when we realized that some dogs were confident approaching some people, but hesitant with others (family or strangers). This could be based on history with the dog, or the person not approaching in the right way. Dogs don’t know what it means to have a hand coming at them, and by teaching “Touch” to your dog (and your people) we level-set, and the expectation is clear.
At the recommendation of our trainer, Jenna (@ Highfives for K9s) we suggested that our adopter start her training program with her new pup, Willow, using “touch” to continue to build trust and make that skill transferable to others in the family. She will start with Willow’s kibble and work on this for 5-10 minutes twice a day (due to the duration of the practice, don’t use treats as they should only be used in moderation). Once Willow has mastered this with mom, she can expand this to the men in the family. By Willow understanding “touch” she will be working on the skill, rather than being concerned with the action of the outstretched hand. This is also a great skill for the human to learn. Imagine poor Willow, in a new home with people all around her, wanting to love her. She isn’t sure what the outstretched hands or the pleading looks of her new family mean, and she may gravitate to 1 or 2 people, where she knows she feels safe. The other humans, feeling left out, will naturally try harder to earn her trust, which may actually make Willow retreat more.
So simple, yet such a great bonding tool!
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