Part II

You will find that very soon, your dog will become accustomed to looking at you when he sits to heel, because he will associate it with being praised and given a treat. As with all training techniques, you should gradually replace the treat with praise, just giving him a treat from time to time to maintain his interest. Remember to release your dog when you don’t need his focus or are not giving your dog your undivided attention, otherwise he will quickly lose interest. You need to continually reinforce and reward this behaviour to maintain it.

As soon as you and your dog are working well with this exercise in a quiet location, you can begin to add other distractions, increasing these gradually to allow your dog time to adjust. Remember to praise him when he gets it right, then give the release command and play with your dog – he must be told when he has done well, and training sessions should be happy, pleasurable times for both of you.

When you feel that your dog has fully grasped this concept, you should extend the principle to heeling and other obedience training. Use the same technique as above to gradually teach your dog that is advantageous to watch you, to focus his attention on you for your next command, during all obedience training. The primary principle to this is to build his attention span by tiny increments and praise him when he has done well. Don’t get frustrated or cross with your dog if he loses attention quickly at first. This will decrease his ability to learn – you must simply praise him when he gets it right and make sure, at the beginning, that the treat you choose is his absolute favourite.

Lots of praise, lots of fun and and lots of patience are the three things that will gradually build attention span and therefore obedience in any dog.