So, everyone has been practicing doing tricks and training with their pups this weekend, not just eating turkey and pumpkin pie, right?
Geordie at about the age when we did Agility.
Back when Geordie was a tiny puppy, I took him to an Agility class to try to find a way to wear him out. (You can stop laughing now.) For it to count when a dog comes down the incline, he/she has to touch the yellow bar at the bottom with a paw. Most dogs like to jump over that spot, so we were told to hold our hands down and teach the pup to touch our hands as they went past. That would slow them enough to get them to touch the yellow line.
Not my image.
All the other dogs realized that they were supposed to bump their human’s hand with their noses as they went past. Geordie, on the other paw, was very literal. If I held out my hand, he would stop and touch it with his hand. That slowed him too much, and he would end up with a lousy time.
For my boy I had to teach him “paw touch” and “nose touch”. Later I applied the commands to a number of different things. If your dog is good at paw touch, a nifty way to use the skill is to have them press down on the ribbon as you tie a bow on Christmas presents. Just for fun, I would let Geordie choose which paper I used on which gift. That was another paw touch moment. He had fun doing that.
Probably the easiest ways to teach Touch is by example. I would sit down on the floor with Geordie and touch a ball and say, “Mommy touch ball, now Geordie touch ball”. When he was first learning, I might prompt him by pointing at his paw then the ball. As soon as he touched it, I would cheer and give him a treat. As the pup gains confidence, you can have him touch things that aren’t immediately in front of him. Have him walk several steps to touch something. Eventually he can go across a room to do Touch. Most dogs will touch things with their paws. The goal here is to associate the word with the action so that you have a command.
As I worked with Geordie, I taught him the names for his body parts. He knew ear, eye, nose, front paw, back paw, fur, back, tummy and tail. After I taught him his body parts, I would ask him “Where is mommy’s paw?” or tell him “Touch mommy’s ear”, and he would have to touch the right body part. The one that made both Geordie and Toby laugh was “Nose touch mommy’s nose”.
If you were looking for ways to teach your pup Touch, these are some fun ways to incorporate the command into everyday life.
Everyday life? Do I look like an everyday dog to you?!
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