Teaching your dog to focus on you is the mother of all behaviours. You need that before you can teach anything else, otherwise your words (or pleas!) simply become white noise.
The good news is that focus can be trained and once you have your dog’s attention, anything is possible. Here are a couple of fun games to get you started. The games are based on Leslie McDevitt’s fabulous “Pattern Games”. You can play them with your dog on or off lead. If on lead, put your foot on the end of the lead so you have both hands free.
- Wait for your dog to look up at you (or at the very least in your direction).
- Now place a treat placed on the floor in front of your dog.
- Your dog will look Down to eat the treat.
- When your dog looks Up at you again, repeat steps 2-4.
- Once your dog is reliably looking up at you, move on to….
- Your dog looks up at you.
- Place a treat a few inches to the right.
- Your dog will run to eat the treat.
- When your dog looks up at you, Click.
- Now place a treat a few inches to the left.
- When your dog looks up at you repeat steps 2-7
- Progress the game by throwing the treat (rather than placing it) but ensure your throw is in your dog’s eye line.
- Toss a treat away a few inches
- Give your dog time to chase and eat the treat
- Whistle or say your dogs name
- When your dog turns his or her head toward you – Click.
- Feed a treat(s) from your hand, or place treat(s) at your feet.
Article written by Joy Matthews.
If you would like help training your dog, email Joy@joyfuldogs.co.uk