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  • Liz MacHaffie

On Your Mark! Teach a Foot Target

You can teach your dog to put their front feet on a flat target! You might use it to teach other tricks, to build confidence in new places, and/or even for photo posing.

The End Goal

You say "On your mark!" (or whatever cue you like) and your dog walks over to the target on the floor and puts their front feet on it. They stay there until released. Here's what it looks like (Patro does one foot because he's a really big guy!):

Here's how to do it

  • Choose a flat object that your dog can comfortably stand on with both front feet.

  • Place the object in front of you so that your dog is likely to stand on it when they approach for a treat.

  • When your dog approaches, mark (say "yes" or click) when even one front foot touches the target. Feed a treat!

  • Release them ("okay!" or "Free!") and then say "get it!" and throw a reset cookie directly away from you.

  • As your dog returns, they should walk right onto the target again. (If they don't you can throw a reset cookie again and/or use the treat to lure them onto the target.)

  • Mark and reward, then repeat!

  • Add some duration by rewarding them repeatedly while they have their front feet on the target. Slowly draw out the time between treats.

  • Once your dog is consistently walking onto the target without a lure and is able to hang out there for 5-10 seconds, you're ready to move it!

  • Throw your reset cookie, then move the target just slightly to your left or right. Your dog should adjust accordingly. Try it a little further away from you. Once your dog is able to make small changes, continue to build distance and direction changes until you've got a behavior you're happy with!

Got questions? We're here to help! Send your trainer an email!

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