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The Best Command For Your Tool Box!

As trainer, I realize most average dog owners have never heard of this useful command.  This command is called “target.”  With “target,” you can accomplish many helpful goals with your dog which include the following: jumping prevention, quietness, heeling, leave it, come and much more!!  It is a very versatile command.

“Target” is command where your dog learns to touch his nose to your hand.  As a result, your dog will move to wherever you place your hand!  Which of course is super helpful with dog training!  Salt Lake City offers plenty of situations where this command can be useful, but first we will discuss how to train this command.

Place a treat in your closed hand or in between two fingers in an open hand.  Hold your hand at the height of your dog’s muzzle, and hold it a foot away or less from your dog’s muzzle. Once your dog touches your hand C/T (click and treat).  Eventually, your dog will touch your hand even when there is no food in your hand.  Also with practice, your dog’s obedience will improve, and you will be able to hold your hand farther away from your dog’s muzzle.

Below I wanted to explain some applications of this wonderful command in your dog training. Salt Lake City has many environments and contexts where this command can relate to your situation.  As I go these scenarios make sure you apply them to your lifestyle.

1.) If you have guests over and your dog runs to jump on them “target” can be helpful!  “Target” can be used to call your dog off of the person that you dog wants to jump on. If you are proactive you can actually redirect your dog before your dog even jumps on the person.  Make sure you are standing far enough away so that when you say “target” you are moving your dog away from the exciting person.

2.) Imagine having your dog walk loosely on a leash.  “Target” can be used to train your dog to walk on a loose leash.  You will need to hold your hand close to the seam of your pants, and ask for “target”.  The positioning of your hand will control the positioning of your dog on your walks.  You can encourage your dog to follow you as you make a left turn or right turn with the “target” command.  Amazing!  Your walks will transform with dog training.  Salt Lake City offers many places for you to walk your dog.  I encourage you to practice “target” on your walks and see what you can create.

3.) When your dog barks you can use target to redirect your dog away from the stimulus that your dog is barking toward.  Move your hand in a direction away from the stimulus that your dog is barking toward, and ask for “target.”  Watch how your dog will turn away and move toward you from this trigger.  Of course practice will create successful dog training. Salt Lake City has many opportunities for you to practice this command.  Remember your dog will learn with consistency and repetition.

4.) You can scrap the “leave it” command and use “target” instead.  If your dog wants to move toward something that you don’t want your dog to move toward you use “target” to redirect your dog away from that stimulus.  This could involve something that your dog wants to put in his mouth (food, unwanted objects, etc.) or it could be a stimulus that your dog just wants to move toward (a dog, a biker, etc.)

5.) Lastly, if you don’t hike in highly distracting areas you might find that you don’t need to train to “come.”  “Target” will accomplish “come” and you don’t have to train another command.  Once your dog knows the command well you can use it when you are at a distance from you dog.  Your dog will turn and run to you.  The nice bonus is you can control exactly where your dog lands depending on the placement of your hand!

We hope we have enlightened you about a versatile and fun command to train your dog!!  You can save much time and energy by training this command. It can replace many other commands that you thought you needed train and now don’t have to train! There are many professionals that know how to train this command.  Look for reward-based dog trainers.  Salt Lake City has many to choose from!

We want to hear from you in a comment below!

How would training the command “target” change your life with your dog?


Johanna Teresi, Professional Owner and Trainer of Four Legged Scholars LLC, Dog Training Salt Lake City

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