With so much focus being given to different training methods and trainers, I’d like to address one thing that every dog and their handler / human MUST focus on. This single component to training can make all the difference between good training and bad training, it can be used to train for good behavior as well as counter-training problem behaviors. Bottom line, if your dog can do this one thing, you’ve got it made.
So what is this secret ingredient? – EYE CONTACT. And, although most dogs do this naturally, keeping the eye contact when you need it, under distractions and getting your dog to do it on command is another thing.
I suggest training any dog at any age for this. I use a LOOK command (some people use EYES) and ask my dog to hold that LOOK until I release him. Most people say, “My dog looks at me.” Well the key is if your dog looks at you when you tell him to look at you. A dog that looks at you when you ask can’t look at something that may get him into trouble whether that is another dog, a bird, the cat or anything else.
I suggest practicing the look command using food rewards or toy rewards and building on your successes. That means end the exercise when you decide and hopefully BEFORE your dog looks away. Don’t expect too much in the beginning, maybe just 1, 2 or 3 seconds. Then add to it until your dog can do 10-20 seconds without looking way. This is a fun exercise and one that is worth it’s weight in gold. You’ll notice that advance competitive trainers will HEAL with their dog looking at their eyes. This is more advanced and not necessary for pet dogs, but it is something to look for as a goal.
What are you waiting for? Go ask your dog to LOOK at you and reward him exuberantly when he does.