Friday, May 7, 2010

Dexter's Corner - On the "Look" Command

Dr. Dexter here. I've had some requests to come back to my column for a quick training tip. So here ya go.

I'd like to talk about the very simple "look" command that most owners have their dogs do to keep them focused. It's done in all training arenas and is really simple to teach. Actually, it's a basic. I learned this in my kitchen when I was just a baby coming home from the shelter years ago.

Many of you know this but here it goes. Try working with your dog in a very low distraction environment. Wait until he looks at you then give him a "yes!" then treat. The difference here is that you're waiting for your dog to do it not prompting it. It's sort of his decision to do what's going to get him the best stuff not that you directed him to the behavior. Sure makes me feel smarter this way! Hey maybe that's how I got so smart.

So instead of prompting by pointing to your eye and saying "look" or "watch me", wait, then when your dog looks at you make a big deal of it. This way when you're in an environment where you need your dog to stay focused on you it's more of an automatic thing for us to do rather than you having to instruct us to do so. Of course there will be times that you'll need to say, "look" or "watch me".

Then later on you can increase distractions by working in front of a friend's dog while on leash for instance. Wait for the look, then reward. After a while with some work, looking at another dog or some other distraction can actually become the cue to look at you and not the distraction.

Hope this helps guys.

Dr. Dexter


  1. When I first learned this technique, I was skeptical. I thought, what's the point?

    But Keiko and I practiced it on our daily walks. Then one day, instead of "reacting" to a dog barking behind a fence, Keiko looked up at me for a treat!

    We continue to practice this on our daily walks and Keiko gets better all the time. I hope one day, she will stop reacting to squirrels.

    Thanks Dexter!

  2. Good joo Keiko! Keep up the good work. You make all of us dogs look great!
    Dr. Dexter