If you cannot get your dog’s attention when you are out and about, then you should teach him the watch me cue. This cue is one of the most rarely taught but important cues for any dog.
Why does your dog need to learn ‘watch me?’ this cue will help you get his attention when you are walking him an environment that has many distractions that make him nervous. Additionally, it will come in handy when dealing with other behavior modification protocols.
As soon as you get your dog or pup, begin teaching him this cue.
Teaching Your Dog the ‘Watch Me’ Cue
Begin by getting your dog to focus on you. To do this:
- Reward your dog for doing anything. For example, sitting or downing.
- To make it was for you to mark his behavior, you can bring in something for your dog to interact with. For instance, bring a mat, and each time he puts a paw on it, mark the desired behavior by saying “yes,” or “good boy.”
- Do not do too many repetitions to avoid boring your dog.
Next, you are going to train your dog to make eye contact with you and, consequently, watch you. To do this, do not treat him for doing anything. Wait for the dog to make eye contact with you then treat him.
- Hold two high-value treats in both hands and place the treats in front of your dog’s nose. Do not let him have the treats.
- Lift the treats to your eye level, holding them between your index finger and thumb. Your dog will look at your eyes when you have tasty treats beside them.
- Each time your dog stops looking at the treat and makes eye contact with you for a few seconds, mark this desired behavior, and give him the treats.
- With time, introduce the command ‘look’ so that your dog learns to associate the command with the action. Give him a treat each time he responds to the cue.
- Repeat this exercise until your dog can respond to the cue without the treat.
- Avoid staring at your dog for too long as he could feel threatened.
What if my dog does not look at your eye for more than a second?
In this case, delay giving him the reward until you get the desired response. Remember that this cue is meant to get your dog’s attention onto something else, so you do not have to gaze for too long.
What if my dog does not respond to this cue when you are outside?
As with most training, you should begin in a quiet environment, preferably in the house, before you take the training outside. This way, you can slowly build up to busier environments. If the situation is too much for your dog, take him to a quieter environment and allow him to calm down till he can focus on you.