Featuring Jen Larson, KPA-CTP & Clara Scott
Concept by Courtney Emken

Targeting is asking an animal to go to a certain location, touch a certain part of their body to a target, or it could be a combination of these things. We use targeting is use for all sorts of tasks with dogs and other animals including canine sports, medical or health purposes, and in training service animals. Learn more about target training for your dog or other pets!

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– Hey, Jen.

– Hey Clara! So, I know we’re gonna talk about targeting today. Can you tell us a little bit about what targeting means?

– Absolutely. So, targeting is asking an animal to either go to a certain location or touch a certain part of their body to a target, or it could be a combination of these things. Do you have a couple of examples of this, Jen?

– Definitely. So, we use targeting with all kinds of stuff. We use it with canine sports, we can use it for medical or husbandry purposes. It’s often used in zoos for medical purposes. One famous example is, there’s this video online that you can look up, if you’re interested, but it’s a zookeeper who teaches a hyena to target their neck onto a fence so they can do a jugular blood draw. Another good example of targeting is with horse training. So, horse trainers will often teach a horse to follow a target stick so they can get them in and out of a horse trailer, up onto a platform, stuff like that. Another common use for targeting is with service animals, or service dogs. So, teaching a service dog to maybe target a light switch to turn it on and off, or go to a fridge and be able to pull and open the fridge. So, lots of different ways that we use targeting for all different kinds of things. Clara, what would you do for a first step to teach a targeting behavior?

– So, the first step to teaching like a dog to touch my hand, I might offer them my hand, they’ll be interested in it, and as soon as they touch my hand, I’m gonna mark and give them a treat showing them that that’s what I wanted. I wanted them to touch my hand. And you can do this with all sorts of things like teaching them how to ring a bell to go outside if they need to go potty, or you can teach them to go to a mat. You can teach your dog, or cat, or any animal to kind of go to a specific location that way.

– I love that you mentioned cats because target training with cats is so much fun.

– Is so good.

– And it’s really fun to teach them to do a target stick. So, touch their little nose or touch their paw, and you can get them to do like go through agility equipment and stuff. Cat training is so much fun. So, if you’ve got a cat at home, please do some training with them because it’s great. So, target training is so much fun and you can use it to be a building block for other more advanced behaviors. So, we really recommend trying it out at home.