Dog Leash Training – Teaching a Hand Target

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,984
    Pet Expert Leigh Siefried discusses teaching a hand target.

    Leigh Siegfried: Hi, I am Leigh Siegfried, with Opportunity Barks Behavior & Training. Today we are talking about how to teach your dog to walk politely on a leash. And now what we are going to be discussing is another way to teach your dog, another technique to teach your dog to walk on a leash called hand targeting. What hand targeting is, is simply teaching your dog, this is much of a trick as anything to touch their nose to your hand.

    So what you first do, is you put your hand down and let your dog come forward and sniff it and then you tell them good, or you click and you give them a treat and you do that several times until the dog is reliably putting their nose to your hand. Then what you begin to do is you'll add a little bit of distance. You might back up a few steps, tell your dog to come touch your hand. They put their nose to your hand good, you continue to reward that, then what you begin to do, is see if you can work them on one side, your left side or your right side. And you continue to walk with them a few steps at a time, holding your hand down and what they'll continue to do is, usually walk and touch their nose to your hand.

    Now for your smaller breed dogs, this doesn't mean that you have to bend over, and walk hunched over for the rest of your life when you have your dog out on a leash. What we'll be eventually doing is fading the use of our hand as a target, which just means, it will be way less obvious to other people, what it is that we are doing, but your hand can then eventually rest nicely on your hip and your dog will still target and watch your hand as you walk.

    For smaller dogs you may want to use a target stick or you can make a target stick, which can simply be a spatchula or a long kitchen spoon, or a dowel rod with a little cap towards the end. And what you do as you just add a little bit of peanut butter or cheese or something that your dog would actually like to lick, that way you can remain upright and walk while your dog sort of walks and touches the target with their nose. A lot of time when you talk about leash walking, what I hear always is, oh! I am supposed to have my dog walk on the left side. It's completely up to you what side you want your dog to walk on. So there is no, the leash walking police aren't going to come bust you, if your dog is not walking on your left side. That's generally a lot of people that compete in competition of obedience and that's an AKC rule. So that sort of where that came from. But again it's completely up to you, if you feel more comfortable walking your dog on the right side, go for it, there is no problem doing that. So now that we have talked about teaching your dog how to hand target or touch your hand, we are now going to look at how we can make that a little more subtle and begin to add some distance and movement, so your dog will actually continue to target and touch your hand, when you are out on a walk.