Want to Get and Keep Your Dog’s Attention?
Thanks Jaymiheimbuch.com for the perfect photo
Want to get your dog’s attention AND KEEP IT? Remember that your dog can’t give you eye contact and focus AND pull you on the leash! This is a great command to have in your tool bag.
I have taught multiple classes teaching my clients how to get their dog’s attention or “eye contact and focus” on command. For more on teaching eye contact and focus click the link.
It sounds easy right?
It’s just getting your dog to look at you on command. That can’t be tooo terribly difficult!
If I have a dime for everyone who told me (when they start our companion dog program) that they didn’t need 2 weeks just working on eye contact and focus (because it sounds so easy) I could retire happy.
But the truth is; it is not easy.
First off it isn’t easy to get the behavior on command because it is nearly impossible to force.
People tend to be too early or too late or simply not patient enough to reward the behavior and they don’t understand the principles of intermittent reinforcement to extend the duration of the behavior.
So they may be able to get the behavior eventually, but struggle to extend it even when there are no distractions (again see intermittent reinforcement).
Or they push for the behavior in very distracted environments when the dog doesn’t have the foundation he needs to be successful.
Pushing Your Dog Before He is Ready
If I had a quarter for every time one of my clients pushed their dog for a newly learned behavior without having the training and foundation he needs, well I could buy my own secluded island.
People think once they teach a dog a new behavior, that that behavior will now be reliable everywhere without more training sessions or until they can get another training session in.
The truth is that dogs need lots of repetition and patience and learning in many environments, working your way from no distractions to many distractions, before the behavior is reliable. For more on this phenomenon click here.
A dog must be 95% accurate before you can expect to start adding more difficulty and distractions to the command.
But by asking for a behavior that is not 95% accurate, is not completely learned, and is not tested in a distracting environment you are setting your dog and your training up for failure.
What happens is he hears you give the command (usually many times)but he doesn’t comply; so essentially the command = nothing. He is learning to ignore the command instead of being successful by complying even under the most distracting circumstances.
It is more important to TEACH the command in all environments and set him up for success!
Another Trick for Keeping Your Dog’s Attention?
Want another trick for keeping your dog’s attention (remember to first teach it, then add distractions, prior to taking him out for a walk etc.) .
So once you have taught him attention and focus, and you can get him to heel while giving you attention then you can move to this trick.
I wanted to put that in caps so you can pick it out and digest the information.
Trust me, to your dog, when you are on a walk you are booooring!
You must compete for your dog’s attention with the birds, and smells, and kids and squirrels and everything else going on around him and let’s face it… he knows you so the moment you become boring is the moment you lose his focus.
How Do You Become LESS Boring?
I have to admit I am not all that exciting, but I have to make my dog think I am.
One simple way is to MOVE FASTER
Chances are when you walk your dog, you stroll. You amble and look and stroll along and your dog has a chance to pay attention to other things.
If you simply move a little faster and make your dog trot, you become much more exciting and your dog has less time to meander and wander and pay attention to everything else!
Put a little pep in your step! It’s pretty easy actually!
Not athletically inclined?
Just change your pace often, go from walking fast to jogging, to walking really slow, to walking your normal pace.
By changing your pace you teach your dog to pay attention to YOU.
I also like to add sits and downs in motion and other obedience commands just to keep my dog stimulated.
If I want to “stroll” through my neighborhood I will do that on my own without my dog or I will wait until my dog is well trained enough that he can give me eye contact no matter how boring I am.
Remember your dog needs exercise (moving faster helps) and mental stimulation (learning to adjust HIS speed to keep up with you) to keep him fulfilled and happy!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.