Teaching eye contact to your dog is an important strategy for basic leash walking.
Teach Eye Contact To Your Dog
Eye contact is useful when dogs are distracted outside, pull towards everything, or simply need a "reset" button when they are a bit out of control. Start working inside and Shape the behavior, or simply wait for your dog to look at you.
Say, "Yes" or 'click' if you are using a clicker and then treat your dog. As you do more training, you can give less treats and more verbal praise as your dog becomes more reliable with the behavior.
When Should You Practice Eye Contact
You should practice eye contact throughout the day with your dog. Your dog should be on leash whenever he is more interested in the distraction and does not do the behavior.
If your dog is too distracted and does not offer the behavior on his own, you can either move him farther away or make a noise with your tongue, "nn, nn, nn" to get his attention.
Here are some examples of how to practice this strategy. Make sure your dog is on leash.
- Put your dog's favorite toy on the ground and wait for him to look at you before allowing him to get it.
- Pause before opening the door and wait for your dog to look at you.
- Put your dog's food bowl down and wait for him to look at you before allowing him to eat.
- Move a few feet away from the door and when your dog's favorite person walks in the front door, wait for him to look at you before allowing him to say, "Hello". You can drop the leash when this happens.
- When your dog pulls outside, stop periodically and wait for him to look at you before continuing the walk.
Combine these exercises with any other leash walking exercises and use eye contact as one criteria for giving your dog a reward. Other criteria include location to you, and having a loose leash.
When All Else Fails
If you are ever frustrated by your pulling dog, look for eye contact. This is a good "default" behavior that you can look for as a basic expectation. This is easier for your dog, generally, than walking nicely by your side on a loose leash. It is a good place to start.
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