Sometimes the solution to a dog's behavior problem can be as easy as teaching the dog a brand new behavior, then asking for that behavior right before your dog starts the old, problematic behavior. We teach targeting in Canine Building Blocks group courses because it's a nice, simple solution to many behavior problems.
What is targeting? Targeting is simply teaching the dog to touch his body (most often his nose) to a specific target (your hand, for example).
Because it's so simple, many people miss the importance of this behavior.
I hear this a lot:
"My dog lunges at other dogs, what do I care if my dog touches my hand?!" or "My dog pulls me off my feet, how can targeting stop that?!"or "My dog barks his head off when he sees another dog – targeting's not going to help me."
Targeting can do all that. And more. Targeting is a powerful tool. Here's what it looks like. (Lily's good at targeting, it's one of her favorite things.) After you watch the short video, scroll down to read how I use it with Lily, who's reactive when she sees other dogs.
When I take Lily to the vet, we're likely to run into other dogs. If I don't give Lily something to do, she'll lunge, bark, and jump at any other dog at the vet office. She's not aggressive, but it looks like she is. To prevent her from displaying those lovely manners <ahem>, I simply give her something else to focus on — me!
We run through the touch game, as seen above, complete with clicks and very high value treats (think: steak). She's happy to engage with me and I'm preventing her from practicing the very ugly and inappropriate behavior of reacting to other dogs.
Even if your dog is super-duper friendly, not all dogs (or people) want a dog coming up to them. Use targeting to keep your pal involved with you, not with someone else or their dog.