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Nose Touch: Why Is It The Rage With Dog Trainers?

June 12, 2019

Written by: Janine Allen 

The nose touch is the go to behavior for many dog trainers and performance competitors. The trainer offers the dog the flat palm of her hand and the dog excitedly nudges his nose into it. Many dogs eventually find the Nose Touch to be reinforcing even when the food rewards are faded away. Once the dog has learned this behavior well, the trainer can move away from teaching behaviors through food luring and start using the Nose Touch. Now the dog can be Nose Touch-lured into the car, onto platforms, over a scary grate in the sidewalk, onto the scale at the veterinarian’s office, onto furniture, off of furniture, and for tricks like spinning circles. The Nose Touch is frequently used for redirecting a reactive dog away from another dog or person. When the Nose Touch has been trained to reliability, it makes a great cue for a recall as your dog can see your outstretched hand from quite a distance.

Here’s how to teach it:

  • Hold treat between base of two fingers—in the webbing—and present flat palm to dog. Palm needs to be perpendicular to the ground and facing the dog.
  • Use a clicker or verbal marker—such as “yes”—as soon as the dog touches your hand. Release the food when dog licks or bites at it.
  • Repeat 8-10 times before offering an empty hand.
  • When you start offering an empty hand have a food reward ready in the opposite hand so that you can immediately reward the dog. It is important to reward by placing the food in the hand that your dog just Nose Touched as it will continue to build value to that behavior.

Be cautious of shoving your palm into the dog’s face. Let him come to the hand and do all the shoving. Don’t coach, coerce, or step toward your dog to help him. This whole exercise is about getting the dog to willingly follow your outstretched palm. Just hold it out there and wait.

In this video I am working Millie, a very shy rescue dog.  Eventually, I will only reward her for pushing hard into my hand instead of just sniffing.  In the meantime, I have been using the Nose Touch to get her out of her kennel and out from other hiding places.


Janine Allen is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behaviour Specialist. Check out her website here!  

Did you find these tips helpful for your and your FirstMate? For more training tips and tricks from Janine and others, check out the Training section of our blog. 

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