My goal for today is teaching my dog to touch. This may sound odd to you, because it certainly did to me, but apparently this is a good foundation trick for your dog to learn. Last night we started a puppy agility class for our 7 month old Golden Retriever, Daisy. Our homework for the week is to teach our dog a new trick. I’ve chosen to teach my dog to touch.
The puppy agility class we are taking teaches the foundation of agility. Before you say that she is too young for agility and that it could hurt her joints please know that they are not jumping over anything high or doing things that could hurt their joints. In fact, last night the rods that they jump over were just placed on the ground and all they had to do was walk over them. Not too strenuous, huh?
Using the Clicker to Teach the Touch Command
I’m new to this whole clicker training but Daisy has picked right up on it. She knows that when I click that is the same as saying “good girl” and she knows that she gets a treat when I click. It’s all good in little Daisy’s mind.
First thing to do when starting to teach your dog the touch command is to load the clicker. This means do a few clicks and treats. They don’t have to do anything. It just reminds them that click means good and they get a treat.
A New Dog Training Tool
Now, take a long object like a dowel or stick and wrap the end in tape. I didn’t have a dowel so I used a long wooden spoon, wrapped the end with a paper towel, and then put tape around it. Voila! A new training tool!
Instructions for Teaching your Dog to Touch
To start things off I put the clicker and top of the spoon in one hand and a treat in my other hand. One thing I have learned in my short dog training history is that I wish I had three hands! I held the spoon away from myself in front of Daisy and waited to see what she would do. Being curious she touched the end of the spoon with her nose. As soon as her nose hit the spoon I clicked and gave her a treat. I did this a few times and she seemed to be catching on that touching the spoon meant she got a treat.
After just a few times doing this I started saying “touch” right when her nose touched the end of the spoon. It didn’t take long, maybe four or five times, for her to be able to touch the spoon on my command. I then got a little more daring and held the spoon to each side of her and up farther so she would have to reach for it. She pushed her little nose on it each time. I was so proud of her.
Only Reward your Dog when she obeys your Command Correctly
After working on this for a little bit Daisy tried touching the middle of the spoon. I did not reward her for this. I ignored her completely. Eventually she touched her nose again to the wrapped part of the spoon and she got a nice click and treat.
I found teaching my dog to touch was more fun than I thought it would be. Daisy is so eager to learn and was very attentive and happy about learning something new. It is just amazing to me how quickly dogs can learn. Starting as early as you can with tricks and training sets the foundation for teaching your dog to learn.