Teaching your dog or puppy to "nose target" (touch your hand or object with his nose or other body part) is an excellent cue you can use to redirect and calm him, is fun and easy to teach, and is very useful in many situations (and as a starting point for many other behaviors). It is a great skill for redirecting mouthy dogs or puppies, dogs who jump up on people, dogs who don't come directly back to you when called, or helping shy/fearful dogs interact with people.
And follow these easy steps:
- Rub a tasty treat on your hand, then hold your hand out flat a few inches away from your dog. When he touches your hand with his nose click or say "Yes" and treat with your opposite hand.
- Repeat. At first, stay close to your dog's head and nose so he almost can't help but do exactly what you want.
- After 10-20 repetitions, then move your hand farther back and in different locations so your dog has to move to touch.
- After he really gets it, hold out your hand and say "Touch" or "Target" before he touches your hand.
- Over time, use this cue to move your dog in space (such as to switch sides if you are approaching a barking dog), direct your dog to his spot, or to keep him from jumping on you. This is also good for mouthy or shy dogs and puppies to help them do something easy to earn rewards and learn appropriate ways to interact with their human buddies.