Hound Training Tip #3: Eyes on me

Hound Training Tip #3: Eyes on me

This series provides practical tips for training focus in dogs. That’s because teaching a dog to focus on its owner, even when distractions are everywhere, is essential groundwork for any further training. 

In the first instalment we suggested ideas for how to teach name recognition and Training Tip #2 looks at building focus and attention span. The next step is to teach your dog to “watch me” for its next instruction.

Once a dog knows to look at you when you say its name or ask for a ‘watch me’ (the two-treat game is great for working on this), it’s time to increase the length of time the dog has to look at you before receiving their treat. 

Have the dog on a lead, sitting (if they know this already) and hold a treat in your fist. When your dog looks at you, say its name in a positive, bouncy voice while smiling. Hold eye contact while silently counting to five. Then praise your dog verbally and present the treat. Remember, if the dog looks away – no praise and no treat. 

Over the course of two to three weeks, gradually increase the amount of time you ask the dog to hold the “watch me” to 30 seconds.

The next step is to ask the dog to “watch me” while walking away from the dog. Walk almost to the end of the leash with a treat in your hand. If the dog looks away or doesn’t look toward you, turn quickly and walk the opposite direction to where the dog is looking. The element of surprise is enough to discourage this behaviour so there’s no need to yell or yank on the leash. When the dog catches up and looks at you, praise and give the treat.

Keep the training sessions short and positive. As their response to “eyes on me” or “watch me” becomes more consistent, ask them to do it in new environments. Gradually introduce the request to more distracting environments – you want them to ignore flying footballs, whizzing skateboards and other dogs when you ask. 

Remember also to use the right treats when dog training. Using processed, high-fat treats can add hidden calories to a dog's diet. Hound Chicken Chips are great because they're high in protein and contain no additives or preservatives - just New Zealand raised chicken. Plus they can be easily snapped into small pieces. 

Training a dog takes time. But as long as you stay consistent and keep it fun, you will have a dog that knows how to focus and eventually, follow an instruction.

Curious about how to teach a dog to recognise its name? See Hound Training Tip #1: Name recognition

Need ideas about how to improve your dog's attention span? See Hound Training Tip #2: Building focus and attention span

Dog training dogs Hound