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This webpage contains a description of the following -

  • Summary of Touch

  • Aims

  • Equipment needed

  • Touch Starters Level

  • Touch Bronze Level

  • Touch Silver Level

  • Touch Gold Level

  • Touch Platinum level

  • What the Handler learns

  • What the dog learns








  • netted training area

  • comfortable harness and lead

  • treat box or motivator

  • toy

  • touch box

  • touch stick

The dog learns to run approximately 50ft (15m) up to a Target Box (a specially made but inexpensive fold-away ramp - similar to a flyball box but without the expensive trigger mechanism that is used to launch a ball) and touch it with at least one of its paws as it turns around to run back to its handler.

This Game can be taught in two ways - either by learning to touch a marker with its paw and then the marker is placed on the Target Box, or by attaching a simple "ball holder bar" to the front of the Target Box so that the dog can collect a ball as it turns on the box and bring it back to the handler. The Starters section will give fuller explanations about both these methods




As with the Dog-Games Hand or Round, Touch is an ideal way of teaching a dog to run quite some distance from its handler and perform a task (ie touch the Target Box) and then return to its handler for its reward

If using the "marker" method, the technique can be transferred on to other exercises (eg shutting a door, pressing the pedal of a bin, "shaking" hands, touching specific playing cards (ie scented cards) from a pack, pressing switches etc. This Game is also a great way of teaching your dog to run on ahead of you to touch a particular piece of equipment with it's paw, and can easily be adapted for use on Agility contact equipment.

As well as being a fun Game for all types and sizes of dogs to do using very little equipment, it also has an added benefit for those dogs that may progress later on to do flyball. The target box design and materials are very similar to a British Flyball Association flyball box - the difference being that the front ramp of a BFA box moves as the dog presses it, triggering the tennis ball that is set in the hole(s) within the ramp - another difference is the price! Because the flyball box ramp moves when pressed, a learner dog can easily be put off by its movement and sound and be wary of putting all its weight on it as it does a swimmers turn (see Round) to return down the lane. However, if dogs are taught to press a target box (which is far less daunting for the dog) it is easy to transfer them over to a standard BFA box later on, particularly by reintroducing the marker which it learnt to touch right at the beginning of its Touch training.

SAFETY WARNING - The target box must either be staked down (see Touch Equipment Needed) or have an adult standing on the crossbar behind the ramp, so that the box does not move or twist when the dog touches it.



At the Silver level of any Game, plastic netting should be used between lanes in the interests of the safety for each dog.


The handler learns -

  • Either - How to teach a dog to press a marker (eg. a piece of paper or sticky tape) with its paw. Once the dog has learnt to touch this marker, the marker can be stuck on a variety of different articles for the dog to run to, touch with its paw, and return to the handler for its reward.
    Or - To progress from what was learnt in the Dog-Game of "Hand" and retrieve a ball from the Target Box rather than from the floor.
  • Dogs have a "critical distance" (ie a distance at which the dog is reluctant to venture further away from its handler) when learning sendaways. As the training of Touch progresses and the distance between the target box and the handler increases, the dog will suddenly become reluctant to run that far away and further positive and rewarding training will be needed to overcome these fears.
  • To give simple vocal commands to achieve the exercise rather than have the dog become too dependent on the handler being nearby as it touches the box.

The dog learns -

  • Not to become too dependent on its handler's body movements as it leaves them to run towards the Target Box, but to concentrate on what is in front of it.
  • That the touch box is always placed in exactly the same position each time it is sent to touch it. As the distance in training is increased the handler moves further from the box, yet the dog is still confident as the box has not been moved. This is how a dog learns to run further than its "critical distance".


This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).


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