Train your dog to focus attention

Once of the first and easiest clicker training exercises you should try is to get your dog to pay attention to you. This exercise will teach him to ignore distractions and check in with you wherever he’s at. He’ll have a greater awareness of you as pack leader and it can help when you teach other obedience commands like the recall. It’s also a great way to train self-control in dogs with behavioral issues.

Directions

Start by putting a leash on your dog and then go to a quiet area with no distractions. (The leash will keep him from wandering off.)

Click and reward when he pays attention to you

Ignore your dog until he looks in your direction, then click and treat. If he continues to look at you, keep clicking and treating. Gradually increase the time between clicks to increase his ability to pay attention. If your dog looks away, simply ignore him. Wait until he turns back to you and then click and treat.

Time the exercise for one minute

Once your dog consistently pays attention to you, time the exercise for one minute. Count how many times he focuses on you. If he looks to you more than five times during the minute, it’s time to add some distractions.

Add distractions

Take your dog to another area with a few distractions, for instance to the living room with the television on or go outside. Repeat the steps above working up to the one-minute test. If your dog loses focus and only looks to you once or twice during the minute, reduce the number of distractions and start again. If his attention comes to you more than five times, then continue to change the area for the exercise and add other distractions.

Remember to vary the reward amount and the length of time your dog has to pay attention to get a treat. This will keep him guessing so he works harder for the reward. Give a big reward, or jackpot, for exceptional responses.

Troubleshooting

If your dog won’t look at you

Make a sound by squeezing a squeak toy or smacking your lips to get his attention. When he looks, click and reward. Phase the sound out at as quickly as possible.

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