Teaching A Hand Target For Heeling


There are so many ways to teach your dog a correct heel position. However, there isn't just one way will work for your dog. You may change methods as your progress to higher levels and figure out what works for you and your dog.

  • Luring
  • Hand Targeting
  • Chopstick Training
  • Body Targeting

Last week we learnt Luring. This is the method where we encouraged our dog to follow our hand while saying the "Get It" cue with a treat in our left hand and releasing the treat as you felt their nose pressure against your hand.

Now, let's talk about Hand Targeting.

Hand targeting is the next progression from the luring technique. This will help to begin creating "Heads Up Heeling" or that fancy prance you may be familiar with seeing in the obedience rings.

Getting Started

  • Have your dog place their front feet on their perch
  • Place a treat in-between your fingers on your left hand.
  • Position your hand about 1-2 inches above your dogs head and before they jump up for it say, "Get It" or a "Touch" cue. (For small dogs you may have to bend down at this point).
  • As they jump and make contact with your hand with their nose, release the treat to them and "Yes" or click with a clicker.
  • Repeat this exercise until they maintain keeping their head up until you say "Get It".

Advancing The Heads Up Position

  • As they start to understand this exercise start to raise your treat hand until your hand is 6+ inches away from their face.
  • For large dogs taller than your waist you will have to bend your arm like a chicken wing and raise it as high as possible, for smaller dogs this may mean you standing upright with your arm straight down above your dogs head and everything in between for positions for dogs of varying heights.
  • Remember: Your hand must be exactly at your side, not forward, but slightly back is acceptable as this allows for slight movement forward when off the perch.
  • Repeat exercise everyday for 1 week.

Complete and Continue