A hand touch is a simple behavior to teach your dog that has many practical uses. All that your dog is learning how to do is touch their nose to your hand when you ask them to. This can be used to get your dog’s attention back on you when you are on a walk, as a way to get your dog to come back to you when they are off leash, to teach your dog how to walk by your side, and as a fun game to play with your dog! You can even use a hand touch to keep your dog from jumping up on people by having people ask your dog to touch their hand. This gives your dog a lower target and allows them to say hello in a more appropriate manner. It’s fun to practice and only gets better each time you do!
Have a bunch of small, soft treats ready and a hungry dog.
Put a small treat in between your index and middle finger and hold your flat palm out near your dog’s head. Tell your dog to “Touch.” Your dog will go to your hand and check out the food that’s there. When your dog puts their nose to your hand, immediately mark and reward your dog from your OTHER hand to let them know that they did a good job.
Remember: Do not feed your dog from the hand that they are touching!
After practicing Step Two 4-5 times your dog is ready to move on. At this point we are going to take the treat out of your fingers and then ask the dog to “Touch.” If your dog still touches your hand, mark it and reward them from the opposite hand. If your dog does not touch your hand, go back to putting the treat between your fingers for another few repetitions and try again.
Once your dog is really getting good at touching your hand, it’s time to make it more interesting! Practice having your dog “touch” both your right and left hands. You can also change things up by moving your hand higher or lower in the air, putting your hand behind your back, or asking your dog to touch your hand from further away.