Teach Your Dog to Pay Attention to You

The command is "watch me." Like so many tasks, it’s easier to start teaching indoors where distractions are far fewer. Take your dog for an indoor stroll using the leash. If you use a clicker, he’ll look up just to check out that clicker sound. When he does, immediately pop a piece of kibble in his mouth and say "watch me." (If your pooch does not go crazy for kibble, hold your training sessions just before his dinner hour.)

Using the clicker takes a bit of coordination on your part; the leash in the left hand, clicker in either hand, treat in the right hand, and your brain to speak the words "watch me" when your dog does it. If this all seems like too much, you don’t have to use a clicker (though that’s a great way for dogs to quickly learn). Using food alone can do just fine. Some dogs are even more motivated with a squeaker toy. Remember to reinforce with the click, and pop a treat or squeak the toy only when your dog is totally focused on you, and simultaneously say "watch me."

Once your best buddy understands the command indoors, take it to the streets. Remember, the attention span of a puppy is limited, so no matter how interesting your face is, don’t expect a pup to pay attention to it for more than a minute tops before becoming distracted. Even adult dogs won’t focus solely on your face during a long walk. Max should be allowed to periodically sniff and do what dogs do on walks. Still, having the command "watch me" in your back pocket can get your dog’s nose out from the grass – and prevent grazing where dangers like garbage or rodenticide may lurk. There’s also something to be said for saving your arm from being from being yanked from its socket by your pooch taking you for a walk.