A great dog listens for his name to be spoken by his owner. Canines are not born to respond when called. A dog’s primary goal in life is to please the owner. The human must be trained to draw on this innate need for constant approval. Gaining the dog’s attention will allow the owner to reach new heights in the quest to master dog obedience training in the midst of chaos.
STEPS TO SUSTAINED ATTENTION:
1. Quiet observation – Dogs watch the human members of the family at given points throughout the daytime and evening hours. During these times, the owner should make strides to return the attention with firm strokes on his fur, verbal praise, a treat or a toy. Encourage his eye contact and interest. Ignore and turn away from rude or pushy movements.
2. Use his name – A dog’s name should be associated with positive reinforcement from his human family members. Speak the dog’s name quietly, only once. Attention is learned when the dog is looking at the owner and receiving praise for sustained eye contact. Rewards will sustain the period of interest while he eats a small treat and wonders what else will be provided. A toy can create a short play session that holds his interest. Five to six times each day, this step should be repeated.
3. Stop the jumping – A dog that will jump up on people can be a threat to friends and neighbors. This habit can be broken if the owner will refuse to give the dog attention when he jumps up on the owner. Reinforce the proper behavior of keeping all four feet on the ground. Say “no” and refuse to look at the dog until he returns his front feet to the floor. Heap praise and attention on him for paying attention to the instructions.
4. Use treats – Early in the attention-training sessions, small treats should be included in the process to gain the dog’s attention. Hold the treat close to your face to gain his eye contact. Be careful to not encourage him to jump for the treat. His eyes will follow the treat toward your face. Make sure that he does not lunge for the treat.
5. Conceal the rewards – Treats and toys should disappear from view as the training sessions progress. The dog should look toward the owner when his name is spoken. His attention will remain if the reward is uncertain. He wants to know if the owner has something of interest, such as toys, treats, games, hugs or rubs. Wide variety will ensure that he stays attentive past the initial glance.
6. Demand eye contact – Gaining the dog’s attention can be challenging if other distractions are present. Speak his name and be ready if he does not respond. Hide from his view. Ignore him if he attempts to gain your attention. Show him your favorite snack and eat it in front of him. This series of actions makes him more curious. After gaining his attention, praise him with his favorite snack or toy.
7. Choose the location – Teaching the dog to pay attention begins with a favorite place where he is most interested in the owner. The kitchen, or a favorite chair, can be the perfect setting. The dog is most attentive in the place where he receives the greatest amount of positive attention. Move to other areas to build his attention and focus with distractions present.
8. Never scold with his name – A dog will shy away from the person who uses his name with a negative tone of voice. Scolding and praise cannot blend together because the dog becomes confused. The word “no” should be the scolding term. Attention is a positive response to hearing his own name in a clear tone that is positive and encouraging. Be careful to avoid the overuse of the name. Redundancy will be ignored much like a child develops selective hearing.
Dog behaviour in Toronto is dependent on the owner’s ability to retain the dog’s attention. Practice is essential because the dog learns from his surroundings throughout every waking moment. A well-trained dog listens for the owner to speak his name in a familiar tone. The response is important for the next step in the training efforts.