In order to teach your dog something it must learn to focus to
you. If you don't have your dog's attention during training then you
might as well be talking to a brick wall 'cause you'll get the same
results. So one asks...how to teach the dog to look at me? To focus
to me? To pay attention to me?
Start with a treat in your right hand. Hold the treat between your
thumb and first finger. Show the dog the treat. Do not give it to
him. Slowly bring your right hand (holding the treat) up to the
outside corner of your right eye. At the same time say “Look!”.
When the dog's eyes follow the treat up to your eyes mark the
positive behavior. Say “YES! Good! Look!” and then give the dog
the treat. (“Yes” - marks the positive behavioral response; “Good”
is the praise and “Look” reiterates the command and moves the
action from the dog's short term memory into it's long term memory)
You can substitute the word “Watch” for “Look” but whatever
word you choose stick to it....be consistent!
After practicing this exercise for about a week you can do away
with the treat. Give the command look and the dog will look to
you in anticipation of a next command. You are using the treat as a
lure to help the dog to perform the positive behavior all the while
using your voice as praise. Gradually the treat is removed from the
scenario and the dog learns to react for praise only. Presto!
Here's a fun game to play with your dog. To teach your dog to
leave it and only take something when you say it's ok. The dog
that reacts appropriately with this game is one who knows which
side his bread is buttered on.
The dog MUST be on leash. Have the dog in a sitting position
to your left. Have a treat in your right hand. Show the dog the
treat. Tell the dog to “Sit!”. When you have your dog's attention
on the treat, place the treat at a spot approximately 3 feet in front
of the dog. Tell the dog “leave it!”. If the dog starts to move, pick
up the treat and start all over again. If the dog does not move, he
should either concentrate on the treat or look to you for
“permission” to have the treat. Do not talk to the dog. The moment
the dog stops staring at the treat and looks up to you for
“permission”, mark the behavior. “Yes! Good boy!”. Then (and
this is important!) pick up the treat and hand it to the dog. Do not
allow the dog to get the treat himself. The dog is learning that
anything it wants must come through you. If you allow the dog to
lunge and get the treat itself, he'll start breaking the sit on his own
and take the food at his leisure.
This may seem like a game, but it's an important exercise to
teach a dog. It teaches the dog that when you say he's not to touch
anything then that item is off limits until you give it to him. That
item could be a plate of your own food; it could be a snake in your
backyard; it could be something that is dangerous to the dog's
Keys to training are: Patience, practice, praise, positive reinforcement