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Hand Targeting – One of the most important behaviors a dog can learn?

Have you ever tried lifting a 180-lb Saint Bernard into a bathtub? If you have, I'm guessing you may be reading this blog from a...

Casey Lomonaco  |  Jan 20th 2011


Have you ever tried lifting a 180-lb Saint Bernard into a bathtub? If you have, I’m guessing you may be reading this blog from a hospital bed and are currently tied up in traction. While Cuba has certainly not reached his adult weight, he’s a big boy already at 7 months – far too big for me to be able to pick up and physically carry. Let’s face it, he’s no purse dog!

One of my favorite skills to teach dogs is called targeting. In general, targeting means teaching your dog to touch an object with a particular part of his body. The first targeting behavior we teach is “nose touch to hand” targeting, where the dog presses his nose into the handler’s hand. We then build this behavior Students always look at me like I’m insane when I tell them at orientation, “This is one of the most important skills your dog will ever learn.” What’s so great about a dog that will touch his nose to your hand?