Do you ever wish that your dog would just look at you? “Watch me” can be a very powerful tool to get your dog’s attention. Teaching this behavior is so simple. Take a treat, put it in front of your dog’s nose, then take the treat and hold it up between your eyes. Say “watch me”. If your dog even glances at you, say “yes” and then give your dog the treat. Eventually you can replace the luring with a hand signal pointing to your eyes. This skill is helpful in so many situations. Here are a few of my favorites.
Getting your dog’s attention prior to giving another cue (sit)
If you don’t have your dog’s attention, the likelihood of complying with a cue is pretty low. Setting your dog up with a simple “watch me”, is a good way to ease into another cue.
Redirecting your dog’s focus from a stimulus that could cause reactivity
If your dog is reactive to triggers like skateboards, bicycles, dogs, and runners, “watch me” is a great tool to redirect your dog’s focus until the trigger is far enough away for your dog to feel comfortable.
Setting up non-confrontational greetings with other dogs
The most gracious way for a dog to show “I mean no harm” is to present his butt. That’s why things usually go well when greetings are nose to butt. If your dog hasn’t been socialized to present this behavior, you can teach the dog the skill during greetings. When your dog goes to great another dog face to face, do a “watch me” while you are standing behind him. The other dog will be presented with your dog’s butt and this can help to keep the greeting from escalating into anything aggressive.
My clients, Peanut and Popcorn were yappy terrorists in their condo on Las Olas. In addition to getting the dogs to trust people and other dogs, I taught their owner Kathy to use the “watch me” cue with great success in the elevator, and on walks. They are all much more popular in their neighborhood and their building now. Look at them – they look like little angels. Now they sound like angels too!