Training Your Puppy to Watch You
This puppy training behavior is used to get your puppy’s attention back on you. I always work one to two repetitions of this behavior whenever I start a training session with a puppy. It is a great way to get your puppy to focus on you and concentrate on what we are about to work on.
The easiest way to teach a puppy “watch me” is to show your puppy you have a treat and then hold it right next to your eye. The puppy will follow the treat up to your face and stare at the treat. Don’t ask the puppy to sit or lie down first; how the puppy is positioned isn’t important. While the puppy is staring at the treat, watch closely for his eyes to flicker to your eyes and look directly at them.
It may be for the briefest of moments at first but be ready to say “good!” when you see it happen and give them the treat as soon as possible after you verbally praise. The better your timing is on praising and rewarding, the faster the behavior will come.
Once your puppy is focusing on your face consistently when you ask, try proofing the puppy a little bit by moving the treat further out to the side of your head or even hold it with your arm stretched out to the side and see if your puppy will look away from the treat and focus on your face.
It is a much more obvious way to see that your puppy is truly watching you and not the treat. Continue to praise and reward occasionally throughout the puppy’s life when they give you attention in especially demanding or distracting environments.
If your puppy isn’t focusing on you when you show them the treat and put it up to your eye, it could be one of two things. Either your puppy is in too distracting an environment for the skill level it is at or your treats aren’t exciting enough to keep his interest on you instead of the distractions. In both situations, try adding distance between you and the distractions and work the behavior again. Adding distance always helps the puppy be more successful.
Once your puppy is readily watching you when you ask in the low level distraction area, then slowly move closer to the distractions and practice “watch me” again there. It is important that you have treats that will really attract your puppy’s attention.
Don’t use boring milk bones during training that your puppy may get every day; try cheese or hot dogs or liver. The more stinky the treat, the more successful you will be with your puppy training.