Developing a relationship with your dog:
- Attention coupled with good leadership and understanding.
- Constantly sharing pack scent (if you spend only 10 minutes a day with your dog your training efforts will be hampered).
- Scheduled feedings.
- Trips out together – walks, going to the corner store; educate and socialize, there is a big world out there. Show it to him!
Things that hurt the relationship with your dog:
- No interest in the dog's world.
- An "Outdoor" dog; not involved with your world at all.
- No real Leadership.
- No Play.
- Free feeding your dog. (Dog has access to food at all times)
- Excessive discipline, or lack of discipline.
This is an important game to play with your dog throughout their life. If you are talking to someone and they’re not looking at you, but rather something else, do you think you have their full attention? Understand the importance of this.
Here are the steps to play the game:
- First, have your dog in front of you.
- Have a treat in your hand, show it to the dog and then hold the food off to the side.
- Do NOT say anything to initiate the game.
- Wait – this is where patience is needed, especially in the beginning.
- As soon as the dog looks at you say “good”. If the dog looks away stop talking.
- While the dog is looking at you keep talking and give them the treat.
- Use a happy tone of voice when your dog is giving you eye contact, this will help to maintain it.
- Prolong the reward to gain longer attention.
- When the dog understands this game, giving you eye contact almost as soon as the food goes out to the side, start attaching a command word to it; “watch”, “look”, “eyes”, etc.
Playing this game at meal times can help the game progress quite quickly. Play the game as instructed above but using the bowl of food instead of a cookie. As soon as the dog looks at you say “Good” and put the bowl on the ground. The attention game can also be played when you’re ready to take your dog for a walk; stand at the door with your hand on the door handle, wait for the eye contact, once it’s given, say ‘good’ and open the door. What you gain from the game is a dog that looks to you to find out what is coming next. The dog views you as important; “I need you to get what I want in this world”.
Release Word – "okay"
The purpose of a release word is to let your dog know when he has finished an exercise. It also lets him know if he should continue working. When giving this word, break eye contact and turn your head away from your dog's attention. The release word is also the basis of the stay command. You can use words such as "okay", "finished", "clear", "all done", etc.
This is an exercise that does take a lot of consistency on your part to teach your dog. This is an important exercise, as it is for safety and also helps to establish leadership with your dog. This exercise is based on using your "release word". An open door way, open gate, open car door, etc., does not mean that your dog can dart out when he feels like it; there is an "invisible barrier" that is up and is only taken down by you using the "release word"
With your dog on leash, open your front door, if your dog darts out the door, correct by saying "Ah Ah" and use your leg to interrupt your dog from getting outside the door. Once the dog is back in the house, praise "Good dog", give a food reward. If the dog tries to dart out the door again, repeat the correction and praise. Once the dog understands that he/she cannot dart out the door when they feel like it and they are waiting at the door, use your "release word" and let them out the door.
Once the dog understands that an open door does not mean they can dart out, test your dog by throwing food, their favourite toys, etc. out the door. By doing this you are increasing the incentive for your dog to make a mistake; this gives you the opportunity to teach your dog that no matter what is going on outside, they are to remain in the house until you release them.