Sunday morning I sat down with one cup of puppy food, the clicker, and Sid. We still do a lot of work on pretty random stuff as Sid and I get into the groove of training together, so we worked on picking up his tuggy bumper for a while and then when he got bored with that, I asked him to target my hands. A fist means “target with a paw,” my open, empty palm means “target with your nose.” I offered him my fist and he took it gently in his ginormous maw. Whoops. Another try and I got the paw target I wanted, but thought that getting him to gently take my hand would be a cute trick, so I set to work shaping it by offering him the back of my open hand.
Success! He now knows five hand signals, for “sit” and “down” as well as paw-target, nose-target, and mouth-target. And then I realized that people meeting a new dog who have been allowed to pet him often offer the backs of their hands for the dog to sniff first, and Sid is going to be a very large black German Shepherd who is going to see this as an invitation to take the person’s hand in his mouth. People are often nervy about this kind of thing. Whoops.
It seems I have inadvertently booby-trapped my puppy, and now I need a different hand cue for “hold my hand” so that he doesn’t wind up frightening anyone.