Dog Training: How to Teach Touch to a Dog

gray cat and black and white dog
By Pet Expert Team
Updated: 7/16/20242-4 minutes

Teaching your dog to touch with his nose, also known as nose targeting, is an essential part of his obedience training. Touch dog training is the foundation for more advanced obedience lessons, such as body positioning and how to heel. But it’s also fun and will help your dog learn new tricks like spinning and nose booping. In addition, it will come in handy when your dog is meeting new people.

What is the Touch Command for Dogs?

The touch command teaches a dog to touch an object with the tip of his nose. If your dog is nervous or overreactive, touch training can help redirect his focus to you. Once your dog masters this command, you can use the touch hand cue to get him to come to you from a distance or in a noisy situation where he may not hear you calling his name. 

Below you’ll find four steps from the pros at Purina for the best way to teach your dog to touch your hand. Watch our video and see the tips in action.

How to Teach Your Dog to Touch a Target

Nose target dog training is an important step in obedience and future trick training activities. Using the flat palm of your hand with your fingers facing down, you teach your dog the command, “Touch,” which means that he is supposed to touch your palm with his nose. You can use a clicker to help mark each time your dog is successful, but it isn’t necessary. 

To prepare for touch training, get some of your dog’s favorite treats and begin in a quiet room without any distractions.

Step 1: Have your dog sit 

  • Hold out your hand, fingers down and palm up, about one or two inches from his nose 
  • Give your dog the touch command by saying, “Touch!” 
  • Pro tips: 
    • Make sure your fingers are pointing down, toward the floor, not up 
    • If your fingers are facing up, your dog may confuse the touch hand cue with the one that signifies stay

Step 2: When your dog touches your hand 

  • If you are using a clicker, click it as soon as he makes contact 
  • If you’re not using a clicker, mark the success with a verbal cue like “Yes” or “Good”   
  • Give him a treat 
  • Pro tips: 
    • If your dog is having trouble learning, try rubbing your palm with a smelly, high-value treat for the first few times

Step 3: Continue the lesson 

  • Repeat until your dog is enthusiastically bumping your hand with his nose 
  • Move your hand around to a different location than just by your side  
  • Give the touch command 
  • Praise and reward him when he touches your hand with his nose

Step 4: Add distance and distractions 

  • Move your hand farther and farther away from your dog 
  • Build up to several feet 
  • Practice in areas with more and more distractions 
  • Pro tip: 

Once your dog gets the hang of the nose targeting touch command, you can use it to teach him other body positions like lying down, standing from sitting, and heeling. Eventually, your flat palm will be the visual cue your dog responds to, and he will come to you from a distance away.

For more expert tips on training your dog, explore our dog training page.

 

Related articles

dog and owner running on beach
The sun’s out, and it’s time for you to have a great time with your dog at the beach. Read this guide to be prepared for a fun day at the beach with your pup.
black white and brown dog sitting in grass
golden retriever in grassy field
MyPurina App - woman with dog

Reward Yourself with myPurina

Earn and redeem rewards for Purina products with the myPurina app.