WHAT IS IT?
This is where your dog looks at your eyes when you ask him to do so.
WHY IS IT AN IMPORTANT SKILL?
The first step in any training is to have our dogs focused on us. The cue can also be used in a variety of contexts to get your dog to refocus on you, despite distractions.
HOW TO TEACH IT?
- Start in a low distraction environment such as your bathroom. Have your dog on leash with you sitting in a chair. Mark (click or say “yes”) the instant your dog looks at your face and reward your dog by tossing a piece of food to the ground. Vary where you toss the treat with each repetition. Practice once or twice a day with 10 to 15 treats each time.
- Add a verbal cue “Watch Me” once the behavior is predictable. As your dog finishes eating his previous treat and turns to look at you, give your verbal cue. The verbal cue should precede the eye contact.
- Repeat Step 1, but with you standing upright. Leave off the verbal cue until the eye contact from your dog is reliable again.
- Then start to hold out for longer eye contact, building up duration by a second at a time before you mark and reward. Build to 5 seconds of eye contact. Don’t always make it harder; sometimes you should just mark and reward for a really short duration.