People often ask, “How do you get your dog to focus on you all the time?” The answer is of course very simple. I have already given you the low down on the “clicker”, now its time to put it into action.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT EXERCISE YOU WILL TEACH YOUR DOG!
You can’t teach your dog anything unless you have their attention – train this exercise when you know they are HUNGRY.
With a handful of yummy treats, start by calling your dogs name (this also builds name recognition). As soon as they turn their head to look at you “click” & give a treat – do this about 10 – 15 times and then take a break for a while. Start again and repeat the above exercise, you should be seeing a faster response now.
Once your dog is consistantly looking to you when you call their name, you need to up the criteria. Don’t click as soon as they turn their head, they will more than likely come to you looking for the treat – you can “click” & treat for that now. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times as above. This is the place that your next training session should begin.
So, after repeating the above exercise a few times, hold the treat in front of your nose which will encourage them to look at your face before “clicking” and treating MAKE SURE THEY ARE LOOKING AT YOUR EYES as soon as they make eye contact “click” & treat. Repeat 10 -15 times and then put it on cue. Choose what you will say “look” or “watch”.
Repeat as above but now make it a little harder – you will need to hold the treat at arms length ( their eyes will naturally follow the treat ) – give them your command “look” or “watch” – wait, don’t say anything else, they will look at you and as soon as they make that eye contact, “click” and treat.
This exercise should be repeated several times a day until it become a habit – remember if this exercise is strong, it may be the one thing that stops them from stepping in front of a car one day.
Other things to do to increase your dogs focus –
- Play the find it game: Throw a treat and tell your dog to “find it” as soon as they are about to eat the treat – “click”.
- Teach your dog to catch: Start with a rather Large treat so maybe you may want to have them skip breakfast for this one. Have them in any position they want in front of you and tell them “Catch” – try to throw the treat straight at their mouth – it may take some of them a little while to get it but they will and when they DO actually catch it, make a huge fuss of them.
Remember, in all of your training even when you are using treats, always use you petting and praise because eventually the “clicker” and treats are going to be faded out and they will only be working for your attention.
One more thing, I always like to teach my dogs either what I call the “kissy” or “whistle” game and all that means is that is an interuptor. Every now and then I’ll either make a “kissy” noise or “whistle” and as soon as they give me their attention, I give them a special treat (no clicker here) and then as we progress, they have to give me their attention for a longer period of time before I give them a reward or if it is at a time when there are a lot of distraction, I will reward immediately. This is when you start to become a “trainer” it is up to you to decide when it is appropriate to give your treats now, but keep in mind, the harder the exercise, the more reinforcement you will need to get and maintain the behavior – if you are in a really distracting situation, make sure your treats are of HIGH value and don’t be stingy with them!
Like you, I want my dogs to want to be near me and the possiblity of a special treat always keeps them guessing about from where and when it will come.
Will you alway have to have treats in your pocket??? Well, I do, but that doesn’t mean that they get the treat everytime, I keep them guessing and that keeps them interested on the other side of the equation, I don’t like working for nothing and I don’t expect my dogs to either.
Happy Training :)
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