Getting Your Dog’s Attention: Teaching Focus

Black dog focused on his handlerDoes your dog obey you only when indoors or in your yard and only with NO distractions? Maybe as soon as there is a distraction, it is as if you don’t exist? You need to build focus!

There are two techniques I use often to teach this. One is to get your dog’s attention on command and the other is to crate a default focus, where your dog wants to offer focus to you without being asked. Both techniques are valuable and can not be over practiced.  Focus is essential to getting your dog to listen–if he won’t even look at you, he will not obey you.

 

 

Technique One:

Hold two treats out in front of your dog, one to the left and one to the right with your dog sitting in front of you. Wait patiently until your dog stops looking at the treat and looks at you instead. The moment you get even a glance of focus, reward THAT with a treat. When your dog is getting it after several repetitions, add a cue such as, “look,” or “watch.”

Technique Two:

With your dog on leash, walk back and forth in random patterns (which also helps with a loose lead walk – turn before your dog makes the leash tight, more on that to come) and have some hidden treats on you. Your dog will start to wonder where you are going and look up at you. This is the moment you want to reward.  You can help your dog realise what he is being rewarded for and learn faster by saying a short word such as, “good,” or, “yes,” right on the moment he looks at you and then giving the treat.