July 26, 2011

Michele Hatley’s Tuesday Dog Training Tip – Eye Contact

Author: Michele Hatley

Eye Contact: Not Just For Cute Pet Photos, But A Valuable Training Tool.

In preparation for The Dog Saving Network’s upcoming stage show, Life’s Ruff, Buffy and I have been doing a lot of practicing in a lot of different places.

Naturally dogs’ want to check out their surroundings; so it can be a challenge to get them to want to pay attention when they are somewhere new.

It’s ok because by teaching your dog to make eye contact with you, you can build up attentive behavior anywhere. Even Buffy wants to look around when she is somewhere new, but when we are working I want her to be able to pay attention to me (and not the squirrels outside or the popcorn on the theater floor).

Without eye contact, I’ve got nothing. Without her looking at me, I know that I don’t have her undivided attention and it’s unlikely that she’ll perform what I’ve just asked.

When I first adopted Buffy she had a super short attention span and her eye contact with me was minimal. But over time, we’ve built that up in duration and she focuses for much longer periods of time.

By reinforcing our dogs for looking at us, we can work with them instead of fighting for their attention. Reward for eye contact and it’s likely to happen more often. Without their attention, we aren’t going to be progressing very far, so start simple and reward your dog for just paying attention to you. Besides, nothing is better than having your dog adoringly look up at you with their cute face!

To learn more about the stage show, Life’s Ruff, check out The Dog Saving Network on facebook.

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