Mastering Eye Contact Amidst Distractions

April 8, 2024

In the realm of dog training, mastering eye contact in the presence of distractions is an important skill that not only deepens the bond between you and your dog but also enhances obedience skills. Increasing the difficulty by adding distractions is a challenge that some dogs find particularly daunting, so be sure to use a high rate of reinforcement when your dog offers you attention.  This step-by-step guide will help you through the process of getting eye contact from your dog, even around distractions.

Look Away from the Distraction


The initial steps involve training your dog to look away from the distraction. Position the distraction on a counter or shelf, just out of your dog’s reach. Stand back quietly, and when your dog averts its gaze from the distraction, mark the moment and reward.


Wait for Eye Contact


Once your dog becomes adept at looking away from the distraction swiftly, increase the challenge by waiting for direct eye contact. Mark and reward as soon as the dog makes eye contact.



Important Reminders


Be patient: Avoid prompting your dog to look at you. Patience is key; refrain from luring, talking, or moving. Allow your dog to choose to look away from the distraction.


Location Matters: Move the distraction to different areas, gradually increasing difficulty. Start by placing it at your dog’s eye level, perhaps on a low shelf or chair. Ensure the distraction is in a secure container that your dog cannot consume in case your dog does go for the distraction.


Safety First: Keep your dog on a leash during training sessions to prevent them from reaching the distraction. This is particularly important when the distraction is at the dog’s level.



Move the Distraction


As your dog becomes proficient at looking away, physically move the distraction to a new location. This reinforces the idea that your dog should consistently offer eye contact before receiving a reward, regardless of the location.


Short, Effective Sessions for Eye Contact Training


Keep training sessions short, limiting them to a maximum of 5 minutes or 10 repetitions. This helps maintain your dog’s interest and ensures a positive learning experience.


Remember, the goal is to reward the natural act of offering eye contact. This should be a voluntary action from your dog, reinforcing the idea that choosing to connect with you is not only encouraged but also celebrated.


As your dog excels at these exercises, you’ll pave the way for more advanced training in the future. Stay patient and consistent, and celebrate each small victory on this rewarding journey of strengthening your attentiveness of your dog.

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