i love teaching “touch.” it is not only fun, but can be a helpful tool for handling several different behaviors ~
1) helps a teething puppy learn to “touch” your hand, rather than nip it. replacing a “negative” behavior with a pawsitive/fun one is always good for puppies. saying “touch” rather than “no” all the time is much more productive for a puppy.
2) “touch” can help a shy dog feel more confident by letting them know that close-up contact with a “friendly stranger” can be fun, not scary. they get to approach the “friendly stranger” rather than the “friendly stranger” holding out their hand and reaching towards them (which can be terrifying). “touch” can help them feel like they are in more control, hence building their confidence.
3) for reactive dogs, teaching the alternative behavior of turning and touching your hand, rather than staring at another dog or blowing up, can help calm them down. looking towards you/your hand, and away from the oncoming dog interrupt the blow up, and at the same time, the tactile feeling of nose to mom/dad’s hand, can soothe their frightened soul.
4) it’s just plain cute!
here’s how you do it ~
1) hold a treat in the palm of your flattened hand. make sure your dog sees it. in your other hand, have a “reward” treat ready to go (be discrete about this treat).
2) after your dog sees the treat in your “touch” hand, turn your hand so the back of your hand faces your dog’s nose. this will entice the dog to reach their nose in and sniff your hand (“what’s she got behind that hand, it smells yummy”).
3) when their nose touches your hand, say “touch” and give them the reward treat from your other hand.
4) repeat several times, until your dog is moving in to sniff the “touch” hand effortlessly.
4) once they’ve got it, then you can put it on cue, just like we did with bailey here.
go forth, and teach “touch!”