Does your dog rock back into a sit during halts, ending up behind you? This can be a frustrating problem! Not only do you lose points, your dog is also behind when you heel forward!
What if I told you there was a great way to break this habit? The answer?? Sticky Nose Touches!
What is a Sticky Nose Touch? It’s when your dog holds the nose touch for a sustained period of time. If you teach your dog to maintain contact with your hand while he sits, this will move his weight onto his front end and make it much easier to tuck his rear underneath him. He won’t be able to rock away from your hand if you teach him to keep the contact through the sit!
How to Teach a Sticky Nose Touch
I’m sure most of you have a nose targeting behavior. Teaching duration on any behavior is tricky at first but by splitting the behavior, you can easily start to get some duration. I start by clicking a couple of nose touches to my hand. Then I don’t click for the first one. The dog usually punches my hand harder the second time, so I click that. I start clicking for harder nose touches, because they are typically longer. From there, I start delaying that click by a millisecond at a time. When I start getting some duration, I am always ping-ponging the time. If the dog does a bit longer harder one, the next one is going to be short and easy. If they come off my hand before I click, I just wait and click when they touch it again, then slowly work the duration back up over the next few reps.
Sticky Nose Touch In Heel
Once you have a sticky nose touch, put it in heel. Have your dog sit, step into heel, and try your touch without any movement on the dog’s part. Make sure the dog can hold the nose touch for a few seconds.
When you have that skill, you can add sit to the nose touch. You can see in the following video how I use the nose touch and sit to get a nice tuck sit in heel position. You can also see how I responded when Excel didn’t hold the nose touch. Be sure your hand is very still and steady. The dog is working to maintain contact, not you!
Fading the Nose Touch
Once you have great sits in heel, you can start fading the hand target! Some dogs will quickly catch onto the tuck sit, making fading really easy as the tuck sit becomes the new habit. Other dogs will start rocking back as soon as the hand touch goes away. Take your time fading the hand target. I usually start by bringing it up higher, out of the dog’s reach, but still giving the dog a visual.
You can also let the dog start sitting without the target, but if you notice her starting to rock back you can bring that target out as a reminder.
If you teach a sticky nose touch, you will have an easy and effective way to fix that rock-back sit! You’ll always have your hand target with you so you can help your dog out if he starts rocking back again. Say goodbye to that rock-back sit forever!