Why teach your dog “watch”? The more your dog is focused on you, the less she will be focusing on all the other distractions in the world. Dogs that are rewarded for paying attention to their owners tend to do it more, and attentive dogs are easier to train.

How to train it:

Start in a quiet environment with few distractions. Have a few of your dog’s favorite treats ready.

  1. With a treat in one hand, move the treat from the tip of your dog’s nose and bring it up to the side of your face, parallel to your eyes. The moment your dog looks into your eyes, say “yes!” Praise her while giving her the food from your hand. Repeat five or six times.
  2. At first your dog will probably just stare at the treat next to your head. Wait for your dog to look away from the treat and into your eyes, then immediately mark with “yes” and reward.Add the verbal cue. Begin practicing, but this time, say “watch” first and then take your treat from your dog’s nose to your eyes. When your dog has made eye contact, say “yes,” praise and reward. Repeat several times.
  3. Once your dog is easily looking into your eyes, it’s time to take the treat out of your hand. In a space with few distractions, say “watch,” then repeat the same motion of taking your hand from your dog’s nose up to your face, but this time without holding a treat. When your dog makes eye contact, say “yes,” praise, and reward her with a treat from your other hand. Repeat several times.

When to practice:

Try practicing “watch” in different locations: inside the house, in the backyard, on the front porch, and out on a walk. Once you dog will “watch” on cue in different places, you can start to use it when they notice a distraction. Try getting your dog to “watch” when…

  • A person walks by.
  • A cat crosses your path.
  • Your dog sees a squirrel.
  • You see another dog.

Tip! As your dog learns what “watch” means, you’ll be able to rely on the verbal cue and begin using the hand lure less frequently. If your dog does not respond the first time you say your cue, don’t repeat it. Instead follow through with your hand signal, moving your hand from your dog’s nose to your face.

Need help? Call our free pet behavior help line at (503) 416-2983.