One of the first things you should teach your dog, is to look at you on command. Luckily it is also one of the easiest activities to teach. The “Watch” game is simply a focus exercise where we teach our dog to look at our face and to pay attention.
In the dog world, staring at each other in the eye can be considered confrontational and looking away is a calming or submissive signal. Dog body language is very subtle and a lot can be communicated with a small gesture.
With this in mind the look you get from your dog will be short and you should be aware of keeping your eyes soft and non-threatening.
Being able to get your dogs attention when you need it has many benefits. Firstly the act of focusing on you, rather than anything else in the environment at the time, can assist to calm your dog if excited, distracted or anxious. By looking at you, your dog may not notice or may be able to ignore other distractions like a cat or another dog while they go past therefore avoiding an increase in your dogs excitement level.
Have you ever tried to give your dog a command when they weren’t paying attention? How well did they respond? Probably not well if at all. By getting your dogs attention first you have a much greater chance of gaining compliance to the next command you give. And finally done correctly this game can help build a strong bond of trust and respect between you and your dog and strengthen your communication.
- Hold a food treat up to your nose, when your dog looks at you say “Watch!” then give the food treat
- Repeat until your dog understands the activity
- Now say “Watch” as a command, when your dog looks at you say “yes” then give a food treat.
To see how it’s done and the many ways your can use this command watch this video: