Teaching “Touch”

Avery sitting pretty One of the “tricks” that I wanted to teach Avery was the “touch” command.  There are many reasons for this but the biggest two are:

1. Avery is a boxer and like most boxers, he uses his paws. A lot.  He thinks all problems can be solved if he just smacks it enough.  I want him to learn how to think and to realize he can solve problems using other methods.

2. It’s a great distraction, especially if you have a reactive dog or a shy dog.  This gives them a job to do so it helps them refocus (back on to you and off of a stimulus) while also working out either their anxiety or pent up energy.

Plus it’s just plain fun once they get the concept down!

The idea is that when I say, “Touch”, the response that I’m looking for from Avery is for him to bop something with his nose.

This is highly challenging for him! With Avery, I have to show him the behavior I want first and then ask him to preform it.  This takes some time but is the training method that works best for him.

Because Avery knows “high five” and he is comfortable using his paws to solve problems, his first instinct is to give me his paw.

Which I counter with an “huh-uh” noise basically to let him know that was not what I wanted.  He knows “huh-uh” because this is what we use to indicate he made the wrong choice (like say, he jumped up on someone).  We do not ever say, “NO” to him because it’s a little negative and “huh-uh”, I feel, is easier for dogs to grasp right away.

I started off with the basics where I just held out my hand and if he even just barely smelled my hand, I immediately clicked and treated for that.

He wasn’t really picking up on what I wanted him to do.  He would occasionally touch my hand with his nose but I could tell he didn’t realize that’s what I was looking for.

Training should never be frustrating for you or for your dog.  It should always be fun and a good time! After about 10 minutes when I noticed that Avery wasn’t really getting what I was asking of him, I knew it was time to take a break.

We stopped and did some fun stuff that he knows like “crawl” and “find it”.  This keeps things fun and also restores confidence because Avery knows how to do those things.

After a bit we came back to learning “Touch” and he started to pick it up a lot quicker.  He doesn’t have it down 100% yet but he’s getting there!  Taking that break and doing other fun things really helped him with his training.  He was refocused and open to learning something new.

We took another break and then played for a bit.  I always try to end training sessions on a happy fun note that way Avery always looks forward to training time!

Does your dog know “touch” or any other sort of tricks?


  1. Long time, no ‘Hi!’ Andrea!! 8-) We usually interact over food but Avery & Cruise look so much alike, they must’ve been separated at birth. I love the idea of ‘Touch’ training. Cruise knows all of his basic commands, but I am most proud of having trained him during early puppyhood to ring bells with his nose!

    I didn’t want our doors to be damaged because he’s scratching to be let out, etc., so I hung small bells on the knobs. During potty training, just before we went out the door, I put him in the sit position, rang the bell myself, then opened the door. We repeated every time he went out (who knows how many times!), before I simply stopped ringing the bell and just stood there. I was so crazy-excited the first time he rang the bell himself! Friends & family were/are amazed that he rings a bell when he wants to go out. Of course, I created a monster: if Mike or I didn’t get to the door fast enough, Cruise would ring and ring and ring – even as he watched as walk toward him! Punk.

    Ah, thanks for letting me share the memory! I hope you and Avery continue to have great fun during training! Happy tails to you both! 8-)

    • Hi Tracey! Ha! They do look a lot alike, don’t they! We have been trying to teach Avery to ring the bells to go outside and right now he will only ring them if he wants to go out and lay in the sun. Silly boy!

  2. Daisy never did how to shake a paw, play dead, or anything exotic like that! But she’s brilliant at touch! :) I think it’s because when I was teaching it to her, I would throw a big excited party when she got it right!!! lol Since this was accompanied by liver treats, she got touch down pat!

    • Andrea says:

      Hooray for Daisy! Avery already uses his paw to get attention so we worked with that and turned it into “high five”. And now he only does it when we ask for it. :)

Speak Your Mind