Go! Teaching a Send to a Target

May 15, 2021

There are several obedience and rally behaviors which require a send to a target.  In rally you’ll teach your dog to send to a cone, and in obedience you’ll be teaching the dog to run straight across the ring away from you.  Generally this behavior is taught to a ring gate or a wall.  If you do TEAM, you’ll need a send to an upright target from the very first level.


Touch the Target


The first step is to train your dog to touch a target in various placements.  Most dogs have a nose touch behavior, so now you want to transfer it to a target.  You can start this by putting the target in your hand and reinforcing the dog for touching the target.  As the dog gains understanding, you can start moving the target around.


In this video I have chosen to use a post it note as my target, so that I can easily transfer it to the cone later.  You can see that Excel catches on pretty quickly to touching the post-it note.



Put Target on Cone


The next step is to put the target on the cone and slowly start to increase the distance.  I like to reward my dog by marking and delivering the treat further and further away so that the dog has to travel farther to touch.  As we do this, you can see the dog is starting to send on his own without me being right next to the cone.



The distance of your send will vary depending on what sports you play.  Rally will only require around a 6 foot send, but the upper levels of obedience and TEAM will require longer sends.  I always recommend training longer sends than you think you will need!

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  1. Virginia H

    thanks for the ideas. My problem with putting a target on the cone is my understanding if cones are touched, knocked or moved during the run, it is at least an IP for that exercise.
    So, if I’m using a target to teach out to the cone, I will put it beside the cone. I like that your idea associates the “out” with the cone though. Note: My dog wound up loving this and would take off going “out to the cone” on any cone in the ring!
    Have you alternatively used a skill to have dogs go around the cone? Heard of many doing that and that they do not report getting IP’s for their dog doing that as long as the sit is by the cone either side.

    • Nicole Wiebusch

      Regardless of how you teach the go, whether it’s to a target or to circle the cone, the dog needs to learn the sit out of motion. If your dog is touching the cone, it’s a sit problem. Work on your sit out of motion and it will clear that up for you.

  2. Brenda Vincent

    Do you teach ….send to box….in obedience??

    • Nicole Wiebusch

      Do you mean send to a sit platform? You sure could if you wanted. My dogs know how to send to a sit platform but I usually don’t use it in the go to cone or go out exercises. I find teaching the sit out of motion is much easier if there isn’t a sit box out there prompting the sit for the dog. It’s absolutely fine as an intermediate step though!

      • Jessie

        Do you train this such that the dog remains standing when they reach the target? (Right now we’re just working on the send) My girl like to run to it and sit, and I worry that reinforcing that will at some point lead to her anticipating the sit in the obedience go out. On the other hand, I don’t want to skip rewarding otherwise beautiful sends and frustrate her if it ultimately won’t matter when I progress to cuing a sit.

      • Nicole Wiebusch

        You could try marking sooner, before she sits. That may prevent the sitting. I train send to the target, so my criteria is the dog touches the target with his nose. That’s what I mark, regardless of position. However, it wouldn’t be comfortable to sit and touch the target, so he just stands. I hope that helps!

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