A great way to start to introduce your dog to nose tapping a target for contact training is to split the behaviour into smaller responses. Try to flip your hand out to your side and reward your dog for looking at/walking towards/sniffing or touching your outstretched hand. Your goal is to shape your dog to give you well placed nose taps into your palm. Do not try to get your dog to nose tap a target until you have worked through this shaping session first.

Once you have succeeded you can add the next 'slice' of training. Introduce your dog to his plexi glass "target" by holding it in the palm of your hand off to your side and click & reward your dog for walking towards it. Raise your criteria until your dog sniffs or even touches the target before you click. At no time should you place food on the target for your dog to steal. Your goal is to shape the dog to touch the target with his nose, not his open mouth or paw.

Gradually lower your target until it is on the floor and your dog is offering nose touches (watch that he isn't stepping on the target with his paw at the same time as the nose touch). Once you are certain your dog is confidently tapping his nose to the plastic target on the floor without moving his paws or biting at at you can test this understanding by withholding one click. That is: as you get very definite nose taps do not click the first touch and wait until your dog offers two touches before you click. Be careful during this stage that the dog's
response does not change. Many dogs may think you are waiting for a different response (like in a shaping session) and will slightly alter the nose tapping (something you don't want to happen!). Once your dog is confidently offering you the same nose tap response with your target on the floor and you have trained in many new environments you can now add your "target" cue. Do this by quitely saying "target" once and only once as your dog lowers his nose to the target. The last step is to put your cue under stimulus control - you can accomplish this by not reinforcing the dog for touching the target unless you have given him his "target" command first. Be consistent with this and your dog will learn very fast.

Remember, when shaping behaviours, you must be the model of patience. If you wait, chances are your dog will offer you the last behaviour that earned him reinforcement. If your dog shuts down, you may have progressed too quickly - start back at the beginning so you are reinforcing what the dog feels comfortable offering.

Say Yes Dog Training
2780 Dunmark Road, Alberton, ON L0R 1A0