Getting your dog to pay attention can be a challenge. There are so many interesting things out there! Squirrels! Birds! The wind! Joggers! Dogs! Pee! It hurts to know that pee ranks higher on your dog’s list of interesting things than you do, doesn’t it? The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can be more interesting than the wind. Or pee.
This is the first video in a series where you’ll teach your dog to pay attention to you. This is pretty powerful stuff – are you ready for it?!
Let’s get started with some of the most common mistakes I see dog owners make when they try to get their dog’s attention:
- Nagging. It sounds like this “Fido. Fido! Hey, Fido, look here! C’mon, Fido! Look at me, would you? Hurry up, you stupid dog. FIDO!” It’s almost like begging your dog to look in your direction. Does your husband, wife, child, boss ever get what they want when they nag you? Probably not. And if you do what they want, it’s probably grudgingly. I want your dog to want to look at you!
- Bribing. Almost everyone is guilty of this mistake. Your dog won’t look in your direction, so you wave a treat directly in front of his face. Or maybe you say a favorite word like “treat,” or “go for a walk.” Bribes have no place in dog training. Bribes create sloppy and unreliable behavior from your dog. And you always run the risk of not having a good enough bribe.
- Demanding. Some people demand that their dog pay attention. You’ve seen it, I’m sure: they’re at the park and they call their dog’s name. The dog is looking at the dog across the way and doesn’t turn around to his owner. The owner yanks on the leash, forcing the dog to turn his head away from the distraction and toward the owner. If there’s something I like less than bribes, it’s demanding something from your dog.
- Being stingy. Occasionally, your dog will turn away from something really interesting and instead of having a party and celebrating this huge success, you ignore their success — or worse: you tell them to do something unappealing (like leave the dog park, for instance).
This video shows how you’re going to right those wrongs and get your dog’s attention quickly and easily.
Start in a quiet location — preferably in your house. Have some really delicious treats. Schooner’s eating cubed cheese and summer sausage. Wait for your dog to look at you.
Remain silent. You’re not doing anything to get your dog to look at you. Your job is to click at exactly the same time your dog looks at you or in your direction. That’s it.
Gradually, your dog will realize that looking at you causes you to click and give him a treat. This is where things get really fun! Your dog will start looking at you to get you to click. You saw on the video how I let the clicker do all the “talking,” and I stayed quiet while waiting for Schooner to look at me.
Before long, your dog will spend more time looking at you than at his surroundings. This is good! You’re making progress! It’ll then be time to add in some distractions. That video will be coming shortly. Until then, keep working on the steps in the video and you’ll be ready for the next installment of teaching your dog to pay attention to you!