Hello, folks! 2020 seems to be blowing by! Here we are in February already! WOW! I had a friend who had a pit bull, and he taught his dog the “Watch him!” command where anyone he told his dog to watch would get stared down. He actually had a look like, “If you move, I am going to eat you!” He never growled. That stare alone was unnerving for some people, LOL.
From that story and my schooling, I learned that when teaching dogs obedience, one key ingredient to training is confidence building. My main method of confidence building is teaching my dogs to “Look at me.” What do I mean by this? Many of my readers remember Zues and many times, folks who met him commented on how he made eye contact. As I have said, I teach my dogs to look everyone in the eyes. When a dog learns to do this, they tend to train a lot easier because they are given an extra tool of communication. Now ask yourself if you want to teach your dog to look you in the eyes.
First, let us find our dog’s favorite reward. Dinnertime can be used for this command too. For now, let’s just say treats are your dog’s preferred reward. From the “Sit” command position look at your dog and draw your hand with the treat to your eyes. What we are looking for here is the dog’s head and eyes following your hand that has the treat. When we bring the treat to the side of our eyes, we say, “Look at me,” and look for that split second of pupil-to-pupil eye contact. When this happens, give the treat immediately, and praise. I would recommend repeating this at least ten times and take a break. Do not exceed 20 minutes when training because your dog can get burned out.
Another great training method is dinnertime. What I do in my house is feed my dogs, but I make each and every one of them sit and wait until I say they can eat. This is where I set their food down in front of them after they sit, and I tell them, “Wait,” and they all look up into my eyes. The first time trying this is always the hardest for our dogs, in most cases. So as we get them to sit and wait for their meal, we watch them and talk to them. I have found that most of the time when they hear our voices, they will look up at us. I would recommend making them sit away from where they are going to eat the first time they are given this command, so there is time to stop them from just grabbing at their food. Remember, they should sit and stay while their meal is laid before them. If they move before their dish is down, pick up their dish and repeat the sit-and-stay command until they do it and figure out there is more you want from them.
Let’s say your dog is staying and they are staring longingly at their dish, say their name, and get their attention. Tell them, “Look at me,” and be patient. The first time, in most cases, they won’t look. Repeat their name again and the command. Eventually, they will look into your eyes because they want to please you, and in their mind, they are trying to figure out the fastest way to get their reward. It is so important that when this happens they are rewarded immediately by giving the command to eat, and praise them.
Use this training in everyday living for your dogs, and they will become so confident in their ability to be trained and learn that nothing will be impossible for them to do in the dog-training realm of possibilities.
By: Joel Allen