All of us, dog owners love to have our dogs’ attention with a click of the fingers. It’s obvious when you think about it – how can you train your dog, if he doesn’t pay attention to you? The good news is, we have come up with FIVE basic and fun exercises to help train your dog to pay attention to you.
HERE ARE 5 BASIC STEPS TO GET YOU ON YOUR WAY:
STEP 1 – THE EYE CONTACT
Starts this training in a distraction-free space so your dog can focus on you. The goal of this exercise is to train your dog to have eye contact with you. Good idea to sit yourself down to your dog’s level, have your dog sit in front of you. Say nothing, you are encouraging voluntary eye contact and see what he will do, if he looks at your eyes and not your hands. There and then say”yes” and give him a treat. Repeat this exercise a couple of times.
Next, add a cue like “look”. Say “look” and when your dog looks at you, immediately reinforced with “yes” and treat.
Repeat the process a few more times, have short breaks in between. To make sure your dog gets it, practice with distraction, gradually add more distractions and distance. This exercise may require some patience at the beginning. Keep doing this until your dog understands that he will be rewarded for making eye contact with you, and he will be more than happy to do it whenever necessary.
STEP 2 – THE HAND FOCUSING
What do you do if your dog feels scared, worried and upset? His natural reaction might be either to run away or to attack. In this situation, it is important to get his attention, so you can protect him.
Proper training makes it possible to interrupt this natural response, so you can take control of the situation by teaching your dog to focus his attention on you even in stressful situations. Have a go at putting the palm of your hand directly in front of his nose. Say nothing, as it is crucial for your dog to figure out how to make these associations for himself. The moment your dog reaches out to touch the palm of your hand, reward him with a treat to acknowledge his response.
Practice this training a few times until your dog can associate touching your hand when it’s in front of his nose, he will get a reward. This helps him to centre around you, so he will not be focusing on whatever may upset him. This allows you to protect him from harm and shield him from mischief!
STEP 3- IF YOUR DOG DOESN’T LOOK, HERE IS THE SOLUTION
What if your dog doesn’t check in. Be patient, go back to basics by using the cue “look” paired with his name to get your dog’s attention and to encourage eye contact. You will be amazed this basic exercise often is good enough to cause your dog to refocus and give eye to eye connection.
In the event your dog still wanders off. Try to walk in and out of his peripheral vision. Ignore him until he looks and makes eye contact. At that moment, you might want to use a clicker to reinforce the desired behavior. So your dog understands making eye contact with you will trigger the click and earn the treat
Repeat this exercise a few times, call your dog’s name first before you click and treat. By doing so, eventually, your dog will learn to look at you when you call his name.
STEP 4 – MAKE TRAINING SIMPLE AND SHORT
For training purposes, only give nibble size treats to keep the activity straightforward. And to make sure your dog focus on the training and not the treat. Be well prepared and have a few treats ready for every session. Make each session fun and interesting to keep your dog motivated, so your dog is looking forward to it and wants more. Always try to end the session with positive energy, use a cue word, like “OKAY” to discharge your dog. Praise him and pat his head for good work.
STEP 5- TOSSING TREATS TRICK
Once your dog gets the basic idea of watching your face. Following that will be a good time to train him to catch his treats. This is an exciting activity, your dog will focus on you and the treat and increased attention when you toss the treat. You will notice your dog is energized, he might not catch the treat the first few tosses. He will be running and searching for the treat on the ground. The whole exercise is about attention and eye connection with you. So it is important to make sure your dog reconnect with your face before you toss the next treat. Praise your dog every time he catches the treat.
The goal of this article is to highlight ‘attention’ is the fundamental principle of dog training. If this element of training is done right at the beginning–you will find training exercises after this will be easier for you and your dog. Good luck with your Part 1 training! Come back to read our Part 2 training. Remember to share how you go, we will love to hear from you.