Imagine going somewhere with your beautiful, shy puppy. You missed the early socialization time in his life and you are trying to make up for lost time by introducing him to lots of people in a pleasant way now. A family at the park approaches you wanting to know if their two young daughters can greet your pup. He crouches behind you a bit when the girl's walk toward him. You are not sure, but suddenly you get an idea. You give the girls treats and instruct them to hold out the palms of their hands toward him. You tell him to "Touch" and point to one of the girls' hands. He suddenly looks a bit more confident and relaxed, and he walks forward to obediently touch the hand in order to get the treat. The girl smiles as she feeds him the treat, and then you let the other girl practice the trick with him also. Several minutes and many treats later, your puppy no longer looks shy or uncertain about the girls; instead he seems happy and completely relaxed. He is willingly coming up to the girls, letting them pet him, and taking treats from their hands. You smile as the family walks away, and you think to yourself that this is a wonderful trick, and you will use it to introduce him to new people from now on.
'Touch' is a fantastic trick to use to help puppies and dogs get used to new things. Whether that new thing is a person that your puppy is shy around or an object that seems a bit scary to him. By teaching your puppy to touch things when you tell him to, you can communicate to him those that things are safe, and through the use of rewards for touching, you can teach him to expect touches to be pleasant, which will help to decrease his fear.
'Touch' can also be very helpful during potty training. You can teach your puppy to touch a bell when he needs to go outside. You can also use 'touch' as an alert signal for many different important jobs. You can teach your puppy to touch you when your blood sugar is getting too low if he is a Diabetic Alert Dog, or to touch you when you are about to eat something that you are allergic to if he is an Allergy Alert Dog, or to touch you during times or anxiety or compulsion if he is a Psychiatric or PTSD Alert Dog. There are so many important uses for this trick, even if you only want to teach it because it's cute.
'Touch' is a fairly easy command to teach, especially if your dog is not shy about touching things. You can generally expect this trick to take between four and seven weeks to train, and even less time if you only teach him to touch one thing and not to generalize the trick to other objects or hands also.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats, a calm location, a patient, positive attitude, and a willing pup. If you are using the "Peanut Butter" method, then you will also need Peanut Butter. If you are using the "Peanut Butter" method or the "Treat" method, then you will also need an object about the size of your hand. If you are using the "Toy" method, then you will also need a toy or a similar sized object. With all of the methods you will need a variety of additional objects to practice this trick with, and if you wish to teach your pup to touch other people's hands also, then you will need volunteers to practice this trick with your dog.