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Tracey’s Training Tips

GSROR is delighted to welcome to our team, Tracey. She volunteers her time helping with any behavior issues and basic obedience/training questions for the dogs in the rescue. We have a special section in our newsletters and on our website dedicated to Tracey’s Training Tips. In these articles, Tracey will share her knowledge of dog training, dog behavior, canine body language and life in general with a dog. Her articles will provide some interesting information, suggestions, and tips in the hopes of helping new and seasoned owners continue to establish a lifelong bond with their canine family member.

July 2011 – Teaching “Tag”

(For ease of explanation, I will be using male gender pronouns when describing “your” dog)

Here’s a fun trick to teach your dog: Tag or Touch. The object is to get your dog to touch the palm of your outstretched hand with his nose on command. For this exercise, you’ll need a quiet spot in your home, some yummy treats your dog loves that are broken into tiny pieces, and if you use a clicker in your training, you’ll need that, too.

Start by placing the palm of your hand near your dog’s nose. Out of curiosity, your dog will probably sniff your palm. When he does that, either say “yes” or if you have a clicker, click, and give your dog a treat. If your dog doesn’t sniff your palm right away, try putting your palm even closer to his nose. It is okay if you start out by nearly putting your palm on your dog’s nose, but if proximity doesn’t help, you can try placing a tiny piece of a treat in the crease between two of your fingers, initially, to lure your dog to your palm. As he begins to figure out the game, you will be able to present your palm to your dog from greater distances and he will approach you to touch his nose on your palm.

Once your dog is becoming more consistent with touching your palm with his nose, add the cue word, either “tag” or “touch” to the equation by saying it just as you present your palm. The process would look like this: say “tag” as you lower your arm with your palm outstretched, your dog touches your palm with his nose, you say “yes” or click, and give him a treat. Try practicing this enough times so that within the quiet room, he is fairly consistent at responding to “tag.” At this point, it would probably be good to take a break from the lesson. Just like us, a dog’s brain needs time to process when they are learning something new.

Later, try the command again and present your palm. It might take a few minutes or tries for your dog to get with the program again, but once he does, that is the perfect time to try doing it in new places and with new distractions. Though, again, he might need a little “refresher course” to do the trick, so he understands that “tag” means the same thing no matter where he is and what is going on around him.

So, take some time to teach your dog “tag” or “touch.” You just might find that this is a great trick to ask your dog for when you are looking to get his attention away from something else, such as the bottle of medication that just dropped on the floor or the scampering squirrel that just ran across the busy street.

Remember to have fun with it! Dogs love learning new things!


Content Copyrighted 2011. Tracey Derheim. All Rights Reserved.