In this next trick, you will teach your dog to touch the end of a “Touchstick.”
This is just a wooden dowel or stick that’s around 36 inches long and ⅜ inches thick. I recommend putting duct tape around the ends to protect your dog from any sharp edges. Wind the tape around and around the ends so that it pads the ends of the stick. If you don’t want to make your own touchstick, make sure to check out the Terry Ryan touchstick on our online store: it has a clicker built in, making it super easy to use. With the touch stick, you will be able to teach many of the other tricks on this site, so learning this right away is essential for your dog.
Hold your touch stick away from you and wait.
Dogs are naturally curious, so when your dog touches it with his nose or mouth, click and treat. Keep doing this until he starts touching the stick without hesitation. If he isn’t curious about the touch stick, gently tap his nose and click at the same time.
Next time he touches the stick, click and treat, giving the command, “touch” at the same time.
When he can touch the stick on command, give him a jackpot, and make sure to praise him for his good work.
When I taught Caspian to touch the stick, I started out by holding it away from myself and waiting on him to decide what to do. He stared at it for a while, but finally, he curiously touched the end of it with his nose. I clicked immediately and gave him a treat. After doing this a few times, Caspian started touching without hesitating.
When making your touch stick, make sure that the ends are covered to protect your dog from injury. You can cover the end of the dowel with layers of duct tape or other soft covering.”
He knew he’d get a treat if he touched the stick. By this point I started saying, “Touch!” when his nose touched the end of the stick. After several times doing this, he was able to touch the stick at the command. A few more sessions perfected this trick, and I have been able to use it as a foundation for many other tricks!
My dog is touching the wrong part of the stick!
When Caspian started touching the middle of the stick rather than the tip, I just ignored him. Of course, he thought he deserved a treat and started growling at me. I said nothing and ignored him. If I rewarded him for touching the wrong part of the stick, this trick wouldn’t be as effective in teaching Caspian other tricks. Finally Caspian decided he should try something else and moved his nose on down to the tip. As soon as his nose touched the taped part of the stick, I clicked and treated.