Hands-off handling

One of the first steps in giving control back to our dogs, particularly control over their own bodies, is to stop using our hands to do things for them. Handling and husbandry are things we do every day, from grooming to putting collars and leads on to Sometimes it might seems easier and quicker to move or hold our dogs with our hands. You can imagine how you might feel if someone much bigger than you picked you up or restrained you without explaining why. It would make you feel nervous and out of control of what happens to you.

What if there was a way to make it easier for you to handle your dog which also makes your dog want to cooperate with you? Target training is one of the fundamentals of teaching your dog to actively, voluntarily cooperate with husbandry and veterinary procedures and it’s a great starting point for building that relationship with your dog. It also has the added benefit of making it physically easier to handle your dog because you are less reliant on bending, twisting, lifting and other things which aren’t good for you.

In this video, I introduce the nose-to-hand target. You can train your dog to target almost anything with a body part, but this target is great for moving your dog around and stationing (staying in one spot), which are essential for most husbandry behaviours.

Shaping the targeting behaviour is quite precise and is easiest done with a clicker. You can use a marker word but make sure to be very precise with your timing! If you haven’t tried clicker training before, check out this video first.

The video below introduces target training and highlights some of the ways it can be used. Give it a go and don’t forget to comment on how you’re getting on with it!

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