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Ask A Trainer: Keeping Your Dog's Focus On Walks

Photo via About.com

Welcome to our new, weekly 'Ask a Trainer from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. They'll help you get your dog or cat into shape and ready for the world. Ask your own questions in the comments!

Q: My dog goes wild when he sees others dogs while we're on our daily walks. How can I get him to stop and focus his attention on me?

A: San Francisco SPCA trainer James Baybayan shares how to teach your dog the "Watch Me" cue in 60 seconds. It is important to have your dog's focus and attention for several reasons–one of which is to keep your dog's eyes on you when other dogs pass, particularly if your dog is dog-dog reactive. Generally, you want a way to get your dog's attention so that you can communicate with him, responding to hand and verbal cues.



Step 1: Have high value treats and get your dog's attention. Use the treat in your hand to lure your dog to touch your hand, then look at your face by raising your hand to your nose. Reward your dog for looking at you verbally, then with the treat in your hand. Repeat five times.
 
Next time, add on Step 2: Using a flat hand without a treat, touch your dog's nose, then your own nose. Your dog's gaze should follow to your face. Reward verbally and with a treat. Repeat five times.
 
Next time, add on Step 3: Add verbal cue "watch me" when you touch your nose. Reward verbally and with a treat. Repeat five times.