Let’s continue with the foundation series. We have been working on the dog training basics and tried exercises that teach dogs the basic behaviours needed for more advanced training:
1. “Touch” (also called targeting), which teaches the dog to follow owner’s hand
2. “Eye contact”, which teaches the dog to focus on the owner instead of a distraction
The last foundation exercise is “Look at me”. It comes handy, when you need to get the dog’s attention quickly and when teaching a dog to walk on a leash without pulling. Essentially, it is a proactive variation of “Eye contact”: you don’t wait till the dog looks at you, but rather teach it to turn to you on a cue. You can use any sound, that is loud enough to use outdoors. I prefer to use a kiss sound, some people whistle or click their tongue. As usual, start in a quiet environment and gradually increase the amount of distractions.
Exercise #3: “Look at me”
1. Have your clicker and treat ready.
2. Wait till the dog looks away.
3. Make your sound once (just once!) and wait for the dog look at you.
4. Click and treat.
At first, your dog can just turn its head in the direction of the sound. Reward this behaviour and, eventually, start rewarding only, when the dog looks you in the eyes. These three exercises (“Touch”, “Eye contact” and “Look at me”) will give you a good foundation for further dog training adventures. Good luck!