Focus is a foundational skill lacking among many dogs. Building these skills is not as hard as you think. Below I have an easy exercise that will establish, build, and grow communication skills. If you have a new puppy or rescue, this exercise is also great for building a stronger connection.
Life Line Exercise
For this exercise you will leash your dog to you while you are doing things around the house, even if it is for 30 minutes or so while watching TV. Who knew TV watching would be an excellent learning opportunity for you and your dog? If you are brave and would like to do this exercise for a longer period of time, go for it! You can also incorporate eye contact into this exercise. Doing this will help grow a stronger relationship between you both and you will better learn how each other communicate. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Notice Eye Contact
Whether your dog is tethered to your or not, observe your dog. Anytime he gives or maintains eye contact, you can add a hand signal like drawing your hand up to the side of your eyes and reward him for the eye contact. Be sure to give plenty of praise and treats. Praise and treats are a very important part to this exercise. Acknowledge any eye contact.
It’s easy to incorporate this into your everyday life as you are vacuuming, doing dishes, folding laundry, or other chores. While you are doing these activities watch for any eye contact, add your hand signal, and reward. You can also incorporate on a walk.
Remember, when you are working on this exercise, you should not expect a long romantic gaze at first. You can work toward longer looks as you progress in your training. So, in the very beginning stage you may get a fast glance of your dog’s eye, and I would reward this. Gradually, as you continue working together, you can expect longer looks from your dog.
Good luck! Putting in the time and effort now will build the foundational skills for a well-behaved dog later.
Building the bridge of communication between dog and pet guardian