Here we have another blockbuster training tool to add to our trick dog quiver, right next to the target stick.
The possibilities of what you can train using the paw touch are way too numerous to explain. Some examples; have your dog press down a lever, open French doors, close a drawer, close a door with his paw, hit a desk bell, hit a button, turn on the TV, or turn the lights on and off in a room…and that’s just for starters. A simple search of this site will give specifics as to how to train loads of tricks utilizing the paw touch. I am sure that with a little imagination you can come up to plenty of ways to incorporate this behavior into some fun tricks, and Agility Behaviors.
Like the target stick, this is a blast to train, and once your dog is proficient you will see how much drive he puts into touching that target with his paw.
So get yourself ready and just follow the steps as outlined. I know it appears somewhat overwhelming, but it really is not. However, it would be best if you read over the complete instructions before you start to train.
Steps to Train a Paw Touch
- You will need something, like a thin plastic lid, or cut a five or six inch disk out of fiberboard (you get to pick your own color)
- And a big handful of high value treats.
- Then while sitting on the floor in front of Puppy,
- Keep hold of the disk Put a high value treat on the floor under the disk. Your position now is you are holding the disk by your fingertips with that high value treat underneath, laying on the floor. Puppy saw you put that great treat under the disk. So…
- The very second that your puppies paw makes contact with the disk, click and take the disk away, exposing the treat for puppy to take.
Hint #1) If your dog doesn’t immediately attempt to paw at the disk, you are going to now just click for any movement toward the disk, and slowly raise your criteria for clicks and treats closer and closer to the disk, until you have a paw touching the disk. Also, of course once proficient with touching the disk, any other movement toward the disk is to be ignored. Only pawing it is accepted for the click and treat.
- Work on this in very short intervals at least three or four times as day until puppy is deliberately pawing the disk. Once this is well grounded and puppy is touching the disk with regular fluency (that means when you are so sure puppy would touch the disk you would take this trick on the road and show it on David Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Tricks”).
- Now it’s time to pull a bit of a con and fake puppy out . Pretend to put the treat under the disk on the floor. Make it look just like it has all those times before, but this time when the puppy paws the disk, you still click. Show nothing under the disk and present the treat from your hand. Again, repeat this in short intervals at least three or four times a day. (I promise puppy will not care one bit where that treat comes from. All that matter to him is that it is delivered.)
- Okay, now we raise the bar, so to speak, just as you did at the start of training with the treat on the floor. But this time, you are going to keep the treat in your hand with the disk covering it. This time we are going to move the hand a couple of inches up off the floor, and when puppy touches the disk, we simply remove the disk to present the puppy its treat from our palm. Then we can start to move the disk to the right of puppy and then to the left of puppy. So that puppy learns to touch the disk with either paw.
Hint #2) There is logic to this, because if you keep allowing only one paw to do the work, and the dog is conditioned that way, you are going to have it big time tough to get the other paw in action.
- Now we need to add some distance. Place or toss the disk off just a little off to one side. With all of your pre-work, there should be no question that puppy will just go to it and paw it. Of course, the instant that paw hits the disk, you click and let puppy come back to you for the treat.
- At this point puppy should be a disk touching pro. So now we can add the verbal cue “paw” (or whatever you feel like saying. I promise, you could say avocado and the puppy would learn the same – as long as you remain consistent with whatever word you pick.)
Now you are ready for some fun, things to train.
Try the ones above