So, what is targeting? Well, it’s a form of luring, but it removes the treat by a step. Targeting teaches your dog to touch his nose to an object. You can use this technique to move your dog or have him interact with someone or something. Anything can be used as a target, but there are 3 main targets trainers use. They are, your hand, a lid to a yogurt container, and a target stick.
Hold your hand palm-up with a piece of food tucked under your thumb in the center of your palm. Click and treat your dog for sniffing your hand. Keep the food in your hand for six repetitions and then take the food out and repeat, clicking the dog for touching his nose to your palm.
Have your dog follow your hand in all directions while you move around the room. Involve a helper and have your dog target your hand and then your helper’s hand for clicks and treats. Lable the behavior of touching his nose to your hand by saying "Touch." Practice this in new places and with new people until your dog is fluent. Don’t be afraid to go back to using food for a few repetitions if your dog falls apart around a new distraction.
Sometimes you will need your dog to move away from you to perform a behavior at a distance. Lid targets are useful for this purpose.
Put the lid in your hand and hold a treat in the center with your thumb. When you dog noses at it, click and treat. Repeat five or six times. Present the lid with no treat and click and treat for sniffing or nose bumping. Lable the behavior by saying "Touch" again just before your dog touches the lid.
Now, put the lid on the floor close by and repeat, clicking your dog at first for moving toward the lid at varying distances until you can send him or her across the room to bump it with his or her nose for a click and treat.
This type of target is useful for training your dog at a bit of a distance from you. It acts like an extension of your arm. You can make your own target stick out of a short piece of dowel.
Put the end of the stick in the palm of your hand with a treat and click and treat your dog for sniffing or nudging at it with his nose. Gradually work your hand up the stick and only click and treat your dog for touching his nose close to the end away from your hand.
Try putting the stick on the floor and only clicking and treating when your dog touches the ends. Have your dog follow the stick as you walk with him until he’s racing to catch the end of it for a click and treat.
Note: If your dog is mouthing at the stick, don’t click until he/she does something more desired, like nudging it with his/her nose. Be careful to click only at appropriate touches and ignore all others.
Once your dog has mastered targeting, you can teach him/her several cool tricks!