Do you struggle with a dog who is easily distracted or find yourself begging for your dog’s attention? It’s not likely that you always have a handful of tasty treats on hand nor want to, so you want to wean away from giving treats all the time. Here are a few ways to keep your dog’s attention on you through calm leadership.
1. Don’t dole out affection freely all the time. A dog who comes up and shoves his nose under your hand while you’re reading a book knows he can always get scratched and petted whenever he wants. Instead, make him work for the affection so that it becomes more valuable. If he approaches and demands attention, ignore him and then call him back to you when he’s moved on to something else. This shows you initiated it and you’re reinforcing recall!
2. Practice your commands! Being able to do them at home is great. You can build on your dog’s attention span by practicing the commands in new places and around the neighborhood. Give lots of praise when you are done with the exercise.
3. Make your dog sit for everything – dinner, to be petted, for a treat, to be leashed, go outside, or even just because. This keeps him working and focused, especially if you have a high-energy dog.
4. Keep moving fast. If your dog is a pro at commands, start calling them out back to back. His focus will stay on you and he will not have time to think about what he wants to do next. He will also be exhausted after an exercise like this.
5. Use less words and more body language. Without words, your dog has to look up and pay attention to what you are asking. If your dog knows how to sit, have him sit by incorporating a hand signal if you do not already use one. If he is learning, give it time and he will figure out what you are asking. If you have a dog who is quick to do commands, practice them the same way without words. It is a great mental exercise.
6. Do not stare at your dog! Leaders do not look to their followers for attention, followers look up at their leader. By always looking at your dog and trying to get his attention, you are placing him in the leadership role.
7. Be the treat. Use lots of praise when your dog is doing all the right things. That positive attention will turn you into the reward, eliminating the need to always have treats, and building a better bond between you and your dog.
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC