I love clicker training. It’s so much fun for the dogs, and really helps them to pinpoint the behaviours you’re after. This is an easy one that has lots of applications down the line: the hand target.
I just want This Little Doggy to touch the palm of my open hand with her nose. So I start with presenting the hand and clicking her moving her nose towards it, which she instinctively does to check it out. Then, I start withholding the click until she actually touches my palm with her nose. Eventually, I start presenting the hand in different locations around her, so she starts to generalise that the hand means “touch” wherever it appears. Once she has this down pat, I can add the verbal cue and stop rewarding unless I use that cue so she learns that I only want her to touch my hand when I ask for it, rather than every time she sees the palm – otherwise she may do it when I want something else.
In time, I’ll start adding distance, so she has to move towards the hand in order to touch it, and also introduce movement so she follows the hand.
Here’s The CuddleMeister in action. Hand targeting is one of his favourite games!