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How "hand target" can help anxious or reactive dogs

"Hand target" is about teaching your dog to touch your palm with his nose when the palm is presented and you give a verbal signal. This exercise is first and foremost a good exercise to use within AAI, it can be valuable in everyday life as well as for anxious or reactive dogs.

There are endless tricks you can teach your dog with "hand target". You can, for example, use the exercise to guide the dog between the legs. You can also use it to perfect the summoning and greet a stranger politely as they present their hand and your dog touches it to say hello, as opposed to jumping on them.

By further developing the "hand target" for a target object, for example by sticking a post-it note in the palm of your hand, you can also teach the dog tricks such as turning on and off a light switch or closing a drawer. In dog sports, it can be used for distance work where you can place your dog away from you by sending it to a destination.

In animal-assisted interventions, the exercise is useful especially at first contact with the user, one-to-one or in groups. By using the "hand target" method, you will quickly be able to achieve contact with the dog, especially in groups, the dog will be able to focus on one at a time. This also makes it fun and uncomplicated for the dog.

"Hand target" is also a great way to help prevent and solve behavioral problems as it gives you a calm and easy way to redirect your dog away by touching your palm.

How can "hand target" help anxious or reactive dogs?

An anxious dog may crawl at the sight of a stranger and a reactive dog may bark uncontrollably at another dog. But what if they did not see the stranger or the dog in the first place? By using "hand target" you can redirect the dog's attention to something less outrageous. Just like the "See me" signal, "hand target" lets you control where your dog sees and therefore what it responds to. Besides, it gives them something else to concentrate on. And because you have trained touch to be a fun game, your dog should be happy to do so no matter what happens around them.

Training technique easily explained

Dogs are naturally curious animals, so start this technique by presenting your hand to your dog.

Remove your hand, place it behind your back, wait a second or two, and present it again.

Repeat this exercise until your dog touches your hand each time you present it.


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