What is it?
The dog learns to place the bottom of his muzzle onto the top of a person’s open palm, and hold it there voluntarily.
Why teach it?
You start off teaching it as a simple targeting behavior with duration, but once the dog has the concept down, you can start adding distractions. Specifically, I teach the dog to hold the chin target for intrusive handling, such as looking in his ears, shining a light into his eyes, or putting medication into his nose. You can also use it as the basis of teaching a dog to hold his head still while you balance something on it.
Here is an example of a dog willingly doing the chin touch so that I can put a drop of medication up his nose:
By making the chin target with handling into just a shaping game you play with your dog, it will be much easier to do veterinary procedures, grooming, and give medication in the future.
How to teach it:
- Place one hand, palm up and slightly cupped, underneath the dog’s chin. You can either lure the dog to lower his head into your palm, or click as you make contact and capture the behavior. Give rapid-fire treats to teach the dog that he just has to hold his head in place, and the treats will come to him.
- Slowly but steadily decrease the rate of reward, until the dog will hold still for 5 seconds at a time.
- Start adding distractions – move your free hand around in the dog’s field of vision, but not at his head. Click for holding still.
- Gradually make the movements closer to the dog’s head, then progress to brief touching. Then start making the touches longer and more intrusive. Make sure to back up to a previous step and slow down with the training if the dog starts to frequently move his head before you can click for stillness.