what is the Target Stick, for?

Discussion of useful training and pet care tools.

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Post by emmabeth » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:12 pm


I use a target stick as part of clicker training.

I use it to 'target' the dog, ie to get the dog to touch somwhere or go to somewhere specific.

To do this, get yourself a target stick, a proper one or a piece of dowel with some white tape on the end will do (make sure its not sharp and the end th edog needs to apply itself to is obvious and distinct)...

Hold the stick and when the dog investigates, click AS his nose touches the very end with the tape on. Reward your dog and see ifhe does it again, he probably will, if not, encourage him although dont give him any commands as such yet.

When he is reliably touching the end of the stick you can begin to ask him to do this in harder situations, hold the stick higher up so he has to stand up to reach it, or down so he must lie down to touch it...... etc etc.

When hes got the idea that wherever that stick is he must touch the end to be rewarded, you have yourself a useful tool.

Now you can use this in loads of situations, generally ones where you cant reach far enough or youd need to be in two places at once.

Distance work - Sendaway.

Put the target stick inside a small traffic cone/sports cone so that the white taped end sticks out.

Step back a few feet and ask your dog to touch the target, click and reward when he does.

Incrase the distance until your dog is doing a sendaway to a specified point. There you go.

If you want to lengthen this trick to include going to the target stick and then lying down, or sitting or waiting for a command, you need to use the technique called 'Back Chaining'. (which you did already do for the sendaway, now its just got more links in the chain of behaviours you require)

Say you want your dog to run to the target stick area and lie down.

Start back by the target stick, and ask him for a down. Then when he realises its not just lying down , its lying down 'in this exact spot', you move back a few feet, now he has to go to the target stick area AND lie down....

Each time you add a new trick you withold the click until each stage is complete, so first he does one stage, click reward, two stages, click reward, three stages, etc etc.

You can teach huuuuuuuuge long 'tricks' with this, if youve ever seen Mary Ray doing her heelwork to music routines, one whole routine is just one long trick. She starts with the final movement of the routine and works her way back to the start.

Do make sure your dog knows how to do the seperate stages first, its no good trying to back chain a sendaway to lie down if your dog doesnt yet understand 'down'.


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Post by danabanana » Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:21 pm

I've just got a target stick, thinking it will also be useful for heelwork. She's got the hang of touching the end for a treat pretty quick, can use it for lots of other things too by the sounds of it!

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