How to Train Your Dog to Push a Button

Hard
4-10 Weeks
Chores

Introduction

Teaching your dog to push a button can be beneficial in many ways. If you are training a service dog, a therapy dog, or just your family pet to help out around the house, pushing buttons is a chore you can give him that he can handle. Dogs can push buttons on elevators if you teach them how to do it. This is certainly beneficial if your hands are full. Dogs have been known to push buttons on telephones to speed dial. This can be beneficial if you have a medical condition and your family pet or service dog can help you call assistance. Dogs have even been taught to push buttons on remote controls. Once your dog knows how to use a remote control, you may give up all rights to TV watching or at least choosing the programs. But if you teach your dog to push buttons, he may also be able to open up window blinds or turn on ceiling fans using remote controls, and do other things around the house.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to push a button takes a lot of time and patience. Depending on the kind of button you would like your dog to push, it may take more or less time. Teaching your dog to push buttons will require repetitive training in very short sessions. You do not want to lose your dog's attention. You’ll want him to remain focused and learn during each session. Repetition is the biggest thing that will keep your dog in a constant state of understanding during these quick training sessions.  Be sure your dog has basic and advanced obedience training, such as heel, before you begin to teach your dog how to push a button. Because this is an advanced task, he will need to understand basic commands before you teach pushing buttons.

Getting Started

To get started teaching your dog to push buttons, have the buttons you would like pushed in mind and ready to go for each training session. For instance, if you are teaching your dog to close or open doors on an elevator or to push the button for your particular floor, your training sessions will probably need to take place in that elevator. High-value treats for teaching your dog to push buttons will be beneficial during the short training sessions. Entice your dog with treats that are different than the ones he gets for everyday good behavior and obedience.

The Repetition Method

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Step
1
Introduction
Show your dog the button you need him to learn to push. This can be in your home or out and about. Common buttons dogs push are on phones, remotes, crosswalks, medical devices, and elevators.
Step
2
Touch button
Take a treat and touch it to the button. Encourage your dog to sniff the button.
Step
3
Sniff button
When your dog shows interest in the button, give him a treat.
Step
4
Name button
Begin to give the button a name, like 'elevator', 'floor two', or 'crosswalk'.
Step
5
Repeat
Continue this process several times until your dog shows interest in the button when you say its name.
Step
6
Push button
Have your dog push the button with his nose or a paw once he's used to the name and associates the name with the acknowledgment of the button. You can help guide his paw or nose with a treat to get him to push or nudge the button. Be sure to remain gentle.
Step
7
Reward
Give your dog a treat each time he successfully pushes the button. Keep practicing with positive rewards for a job well done.
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The Target Method

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Step
1
Sit and face
Place your dog in a sit by command. Sit in front of your dog, facing him.
Step
2
Eye contact
Look into your dog's eyes to ensure you have his attention.
Step
3
Hide treat
Show your dog a high-value treat and let him see you hide it. You can hide it in your fist at first and move to more difficult places as he gets better at nudging.
Step
4
Nudge
Ask where the treat is and encourage your dog to nudge it while it is hidden. It may be helpful for the treat to be in your fist.
Step
5
Treat
Once he nudges the hiding spot for the treat, give him the treat.
Step
6
Offer your hand
Show your dog your empty hand after he's been used to finding and nudging treats. He will likely continue to nudge your hand, thinking you want this behavior to continue. When he does, offer him a treat.
Step
7
Move hand
Move your hand around encouraging him to nudge your hand. Move it from left and then to right giving him a treat each time he nudges it.
Step
8
Challenge
Move your dog to varying areas and encourage him to nudge from a distance. Use your hand to direct him to objects he can nudge, like buttons.
Step
9
Practice
Encourage and practice your dog to nudge items and buttons. This will take some time, but once he gets the nudging idea down, he should be able to push buttons with his nose.
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The Push and Click Method

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Step
1
Introduce button
Introduce the button you'd like your dog to push and give it a name.
Step
2
Clicker hand
Bring your clicker hand to the button. Your dog will want to sniff your hand. Once he moves his head and touches your hand with his nose, click and treat.
Step
3
Move elsewhere
Move your clicker hand to a different spot or another button.
Step
4
Click and treat
Offer your dog a click and treat when he touches your clicker hand near the button with his nose.
Step
5
Repeat
Continue to repeat and practice this with different buttons using your clicker hand.
Step
6
Name button
Once your dog follows the motion to the button and can nose the button, give it a name such as 'phone', 'remote', 'crosswalk'. Repeat the steps above using the name.
Step
7
Practice more
This will take some time, but your dog will begin to push the buttons you have named after learning to associate the name with the clicking and treating while your hand is near the button and he acknowledges the button.
Step
8
Positive rewards
Be sure to offer your dog treats and keep the training repetitive so he connects the complicated dots as he learns to push buttons.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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