Eyes on Me & What a Brave Dog You Are!

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Repeat Step 1, but with you standing upright. Leave off the verbal cue until the eye contact from your dog is reliable again.
  4. 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.

What is it?

It’s where your dog walks politely next to you without pulling. It is not the same as a formal obedience heel for competition.

Why is it an important skill?

It will make taking him out in public more enjoyable. Walking your dog once or twice a day off your own property is also very beneficial to your dog; good for his behavioral well-being and it gives him a chance to catch up on his social media. Remember that teaching a dog to walk on a loose leash takes many months of consistent training on your part, so let’s get this started on the right foot. We assume that your dog is already comfortable wearing his leash and collar.

How to teach it:

  1. Start every walk off with this stationary ritual: Mark (click or say “yes”) and give your dog a treat in the golden zone of reinforcement (i.e. right next to your pant’s seam). Repeat rapidly for 5 to 10 treats.
  2. Then, no matter where your dog is relative to your body, you should take a single step backwards. Mark and reward your dog for moving with you.
  3. Stepping backwards is a good method of enticing your dog to come with you. Repeat a few times.
  4. Then take one step backwards, followed immediately by one step forwards. Mark and reward your dog for moving with you. Repeat a number of times.
  5. Then take one step backwards, followed immediately by two steps forward. Mark and reward your dog for moving with you.
  6. Gradually increase the number of forward steps you take, but don't always make it harder and harder for your dog to stay with you.
  7. If your dog pulls, you should stop immediately (your puppy must learn that pulling stops all forward motion), and wait for your puppy to pay attention to you. As soon as he turns his head to look at you, mark and reward him at your pant’s seam. Then start off in a different random direction (to the left, right, backwards or forwards). Change the direction you turn in each time. If it takes you twenty minutes to walk down your driveway for the first week, then you are teaching this right!

What is it?

Strange and moving objects can be very disturbing to a dog who is not slowly introduced to them.

Why is it an important skill?

It is important to expose your puppy to moving objects because dogs who do not have a positive association with strange moving objects are usually terrified of them. This can lead to problems with barking, growling, and even aggression. However early positive associations lead to happy content adult dogs, as well as setting a great foundation for tricks, therapy work and agility.

How to teach it:

Start out far away from a moving object and let your puppy watch it. If the object is safe, let your puppy investigate it. If your puppy stays away, just let them watch. Never drag a puppy up to something they are unsure of. You can drop treats in the vicinity or feed your puppy while they watch it move. Repeated exposure with positive association - meaning a food reward, will help make your puppy brave, empowered, and a content adult.