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, CBATI, VSPDT, TTWC, VSA-DT

Anthony De Marinis is the owner of De Marinis Dog Training & Behavior on Long Island, NY. He provides private in-home training and behavior modification solutions using positive reinforcement-based methods. He also provides video consultations remotely as he has many clients across the United States. Anthony 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. Currently, Anthony has a young Australian Kelpie named Journey. They are learning about agility and nose work together. You can visit Anthony’s website and learn more about him and his services at: www.demarinisdogtraining.com