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Tuesday Training Byte: Getting your dog's attention

When most people think about training their dog or a dog training class, they usually think of teaching the usual commands like sit, heel, down, come and solving problem behaviors like jumping up. The very first step that you can start working on at home almost any time is getting your dog to make eye contact with you. I use the words "Watch me". To train this, hold a tasty treat near the dog's nose and move your hand up to your check. As your pup makes eye contact, say "Watch me!" and quickly give him the treat. Repeat this several times. Once he seems to get the idea, mix it up a bit. Keep some treats on you and when your dog randomly makes eye contact with you, immediately give the treat and say Yes- good watch! Also practice saying watch me when your pup is not looking at you. Again as soon as he makes eye contact, say "Yes, good watch" and give the treat. It is pointless to give the dog commands when he is not paying attention and looking at you. If you are working on the "heel" command and your pup begins looking away and pulling, start over with the "watch me" cue. At first, you will be giving your pup lots of treats, but slowly you will expect him to hold the focus for longer before the treat comes. Dogs seek our attention, so be sure to reward their eye contact and good behavior before the naughty behaviors begin. Here my dog Muddy is maintaining eye contact as I clip on her leash.

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