Hand targeting is a great way to focus your dog on any task.

Hand Targeting

By Anthony De Marinis, CDBC

Hand targeting or “touch”, is a great behavior to teach for a variety of reasons. A hand target is when you present your hand and the dog bumps his or her nose against your hand. Below is a video I created on how to teach hand targeting.


Hand Targeting Can Be Used For:

  • Getting a puppy or a nervous dog comfortable with hands and human touch.
  • Building confidence around people that a dog might be uncomfortable around.
  • Redirecting a dog’s behavior.
  • Confidence building to get a dog comfortable with objects that might be scary to them. These may include a brush, tools used at the vet, nail clippers, etc.
  • Teaching a recall.
  • Low-stress handling and cooperative care.
  • Teaching more advanced behaviors.
  • Modifying behaviors.


Hand targeting is a great foundation exercise for dogs of all ages. To learn how to teach a hand target take a look at this video I created with my puppy Journey.


How to Teach Hand Targeting:

Bonus Video: Targeting an Item:

Bonus Video: Low-Stress Body Handling:

Bonus Video: Targeting Objects


This article was also posted on Positively.com.

About Anthony De Marinis, CDBC

Anthony De Marinis provides private training and behavior modification solutions using humane positive reinforcement methods. He has 6 professional certifications which include: Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from the International Association for Animal Behavior Consultants, Certified Graduate of distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior, Certified Behavior Adjustment Trainer, Certified Victoria Stilwell Licensed Positively Dog Trainer, The Third Way Certified Trainer and is a Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer.