Dog Paying Attention: Eye Contact
Your dog paying attention to you is a foundation skill at the root of all good behavior. The dog can’t do what you ask if he isn’t paying attention to you. For calling your dog, it is important that your dog develop a habit of checking in by looking at you. This drill can help establish that behavior.
After you have taught your dog to make eye contact with you, you can make the game a bit harder with a little distraction. That distraction is holding your hands out with treats. (Remember the 3 D’s? Duration Distance Distraction)
Mark your dog (yes or click) by putting the treat on the floor. This gives your dog a chance to look away while eating and then look back at you. Atip here is give the “watch me cue” as soon as your dog finishes eating the treat on the floor. You can start this drill kneeling on the ground, who is especially helpful if you have a small dog.
Use other rewards, too
You can also use toys for this drill. Put the toy or ball in your extended hand or behind your back. Take it out and toss it for your dog when he makes eye contact.
Vary the drill by holding your hands in different positions. Remember if this is too hard for your dog you need to go back to an easier step. Be sure to practice in an easy low distraction are first and then more to a slightly higher distraction area.
When you are in the early stages of training your dog you should carry around treats and mark and reward your dog any time he looks at you.
If you want to use real life rewards you can wait for your dog to look at you before you let him go sniff his favorite tree or even before you pet him.