Happy Monday everyone! Hope your Thanksgiving holiday is shaping up to be more fun than stressful!
Wanted to quickly share a fabulous game to teach your dog that is also a great tool for him to have in his toolbox. It is the 'touch' game. Your dog can learn to touch your outstretched palm with his nose.
How to teach: Show your dog you have a treat between your fingers. Hold your hand out, palm up, at your dog’s nose height and cue ‘touch!’ If your dog doesn’t notice the treat, you can wiggle your hand and/or use your other hand to point to the treat.
The INSTANT your dog’s nose touches your hand say ‘Yes!’ and give your dog the treat. Do not reward for using teeth or you'll regret it later. Cavalier owners-for whatever reason they prefer to lick instead of touch with their nose... you can decide if this is acceptable or not :) Once your dog gets the hang of touching your palm with his nose, try without putting a treat between your fingers. When your dog touches your outstretched hand, cue 'yes!' immediately then give him a treat as a reward.
When your dog is consistently touching your hand with his nose, try putting your hand at different heights~ down low, up high, off to your side, etc. You can even walk around the house and stick your hand out for him to 'touch!' as you move. Do reward often at first to let your dog know this is the behavior you are looking for then start using treats intermittently.
Do this game often throughout the day to build a solid 'touch'. Why? Not only is it a fun, interactive game with your dog, but you can use it for practical purposes. If your dog is afraid of something, try putting your hand on the spooky object and ask him to 'touch'. If he does touch your hand, be sure you reward and praise wildly for being such a brave dog! You can also use 'touch' for recall. Stick your hand out and cue 'touch!' and see if your dog comes right to you to touch your outstretched hand. You may be able to work towards using an outstretched hand as a visual cue without having to actually ask for a touch.... GREAT for deaf dogs!
We use 'touch' at our school and I use it at home ALL THE TIME. I can not stress how valuable this is for dogs to know. It can help dogs walk at your side, learn freestyle dancing, treibball.... the practicalities are endless and it is something every dog can easily and quickly learn with a good teacher. More on this later...
Happy and safe holidays to you all! Don't forget to have fun with your dog!!!!