Sunday Walk With Butter #2: Touch
Today, we worked on “touch” with some continuation of “take it”.
Touch: Come and tap my hand with your nose.
In the video below you can see how I ask her to “touch” and then carry over my “take it” command. I do not stop when we are doing this without the camera. I had a difficult time keeping a treat, leash and camera in one hand.
“Touch” is a command I have taught Butter for multiple reasons. First, if she will not come when I ask, I may attempt to use “touch” (a more specific command) and sometimes she will return to touch my palm. I also use “touch” to get her to pay attention to me, check in or follow my hand when learning a new task.
Butter learned the command “touch” in a distraction free environment. To teach her I held out my hand and waited for her to sniff it. When her nose touched my hand I gave her a “click” on my clicker followed by a treat from my other hand.
Due to my camera holding issues I sat down to show how she does this command. The first time, she touches as soon as I place my palm out, so I just label and treat. The second time she is predicting it as well, but I do ask right before she touches my palm. We have practiced to the point where she knows a flat palm means we are doing “touch”.
This is a great walking focus and can be practiced easily when heading down the street. I also like that when Butter catches onto this focus she consistently stays next to me “heeling”, even if I am not asking her to. My one rule is that she has to actually touch my hand, she can not just sniff it.
To teach her on our walk I would put my palm out while strolling and say “touch”. Remember, this is after teaching her the command without distractions. Once she touches my palm I mark her with a “good girl” and then I give her a treat saying “take it”. When she was consistently wanting a treat I would hold out my hand and each time she touched it I labeled “touch” and then marked her with a “good girl” and gave her a treat.
When we were walking she would want to do this constantly, so I just put my hand down. I would label and reward all of her success. Sometimes you will see me throw a treat in front of her onto the ground. I throw the treat in front of us when I want to keep us walking, if she is not being gentle grabbing the treat and sometimes just for fun.
I have the treat in my opposite hand for a few reasons. First, I want Butter to do this with or without a treat. Second, she will try to get the treat if it is in my hand. Third, it is hard to have a treat and a flat palm.
Butter really improved on this skill after we worked on it for a few walks. I also suggest that you start to change things up the more commands your dog knows. Sometimes I asked her to “touch” and sometimes I brought back last weeks “leave it” and “take it”. Change this up a bit to keep your dog even more engaged!