Teaching Eye Contact
Teaching eye contact to your dog can provide a way to have a quick response to your commands and if done properly, it will be easy and beneficial. It is a great way to gain control quickly to protect your dog, order restraint and basically command obedience when it is needed. With some patience and practice, your dog will be giving you eye contact when you call his or her name.
Dogs tend to respond better to movements than when you are standing still and working this exercise. Have a few treats with you in a pocket or in your hand where the dog cannot see them. Call your pets name and move quickly away from the dog. Immediately give praise and a treat when the dog moves with you. When you hand out the treat, place it between your eyes and the dogs eyes. Your dog will be looking at the treat, but will also see your eyes. In time your dog will be giving you eye contact because of the association with the treat. Praise the dog each time an eye contact response is given, and give a treat randomly.
You’ll need to practice this sequence several times. Make sure you do these activities in this order: say the name of the dog, move quickly so that the dog follows your movement, give verbal praise, pull out the treat and show it between your eyes and the dog’s eyes, and then give the treat. This is an activity that will happen quickly. Use treats for a period of time, then consider using a favorite toy to keep the pattern the way you want it to be. Alternate between giving a treat, giving a toy or only giving praise.
Your praise is important to the dog. Make sure it is included each time you try this activity and do this process in different places to establish the pattern of eye contact whenever it is needed. When you are receiving the same response each time, add some activity and noise to the area where you are teaching your dog. The dog needs to learn to give you eye contact even when there are distractions. Practice with small distractions for a period of time, then add greater distractions.
Make sure to reward the dog every time eye contact is made and the correct response is given. When you continue this practice, life with your dog will be much easier.