Why Won’t My Dog Focus on Me?
One of the most common things owners ask is: How do I get more focus from my dog? I ask my dog to do something or even call his name and they just walk away.
Well, like anything in life we have to work for it because dogs are not born knowing, just as human babies are not born knowing things. How can we ask the same thing from puppies or even older dogs?
If we need to train a dog how to be house broken or walk on a leash, then we must do the same with focus. The following are the beginning steps in gaining that focus and improving your relationship altogether:
6 Ways to Get Focus
- Begin by having your dog not run away when you are working them. A simple but not always used practice is put a collar and leash on your dog. Only skip this step if your dog is food driven and you are in a safe environment in which where if the dog walks away there will be no danger to your dog. For example, you should have him on leash if you are in a public area such as a park or a trail. You do not want your dog to get lost or get hit by a car.
- Now once you dog is around you on leash or off leash, off leash in a safe environment, stand there and when your dog looks at you reward them with a treat/food reward. If you have charged the clicker or key word then you use that first and then reward with the treat. If you are not familiar with charging the clicker or key word please review my blog on “Charging the Reward.”
- The next level is to walk around a little and once again every time your dog looks are you, reward them. The next level above that is to take them to a distracted area such as outside, maybe a public area where things going on. Every time your dog looks at another dog or person and then looks at you reward them.
- When you are walking them down the street and they look at you, it is reward time. You are telling them that is what you want. With the food they will be more eager to look at you and you will gain that focus.
- It is feeding time and your dog wants that food more than anything. They might be jumping, running around or even barking to get that food. What you do is simple: hold the food up in the air where he cannot get to it. Once he starts to give you eye contact then you lower it, but if he drops that eye contact the food goes back up. If you are able to drop the food down to the ground and he goes for it, take the food up out of his reach once again and start all over. He cannot go and start eating the food until you give him the “ok” command. That command can be anything you want for example “eat”, “get it” or even “ok,” as long as you give him permission to eat the food.
- What is the next thing dogs love to do besides eating? That is going outside most of the time because they have to go to the bathroom or they want to play. Either case it is something they want so it an opportunity to work focus from them. You can stand at the door and wait for eye contact and then you open the door for them to go out. If they break the contact just like with the food bowl, you just start from the beginning, in this case you close the door. In the beginning the dog will not understand but with a little work they will be giving you their attention to go out.