In part three of my Basic Training series, I talked about the command, “Down” and how to use it in everyday life. In part four, I am going to talk about the command, “Watch Me.”
“Watch Me” is one of the first commands I teach my clients. It is one of those commands that I find so easy to incorporate into everyday activities and life. Plus, I love how it helps build trust and a connection between owner and dog. It is a lovely command.
Below are some ways that I recommend using it in your everyday life.
Before meal times I like to ask my dog to sit and wait while I get their food ready. Then I wait for them to make eye contact (watch me) before I release them to enjoy their meal. It teaches them self-control and polite behavior.
On walks when I see another dog or person approaching, I like to work on having my dog pay attention to me instead of greeting every passerby. I will stand to the side of the sidewalk, and ask my dog for a “Watch Me” until the dog/person walks past us. Then I will release my dog and continue on our walk. This prevents any dog-dog interactions and people getting annoyed by my dog wanting their attention. It also makes our walk much more enjoyable because I am not spending the next part of my walk trying to get my dog’s attention again.
Playing fetch, I like to get eye contact before throwing the ball. Once they bring the ball back and drop it, I wait until I receive eye contact and then throw the ball. I do this every time they want me to throw the ball.
Elevators can be very crowded and if you live in a high rise, they can be full of other dogs. When I step in the elevator, I ask my dog to sit and watch me. This keeps their attention on me and helps prevent dog-dog interactions. Once we get to our designated floor, I release my dog and we go on our way.
So now, let’s talk about the steps you should follow to teach your dog “watch me”:
- Hold a small, smelly treat in your hand.
- Show it to your dog by bringing it close to his or her nose.
- Move the treat from your dog’s nose to your nose.
- Your dog’s eyes will follow the treat.
- At the moment your dog makes eye contact with you, say “Yes.”
- Give your dog the treat.
- Practice this four or five times.
- When your dog reliably makes eye contact, say “watch me” (or whatever you want to call it) before moving your hand towards your eyes.
Are there any special ways that you use watch me with your dog?
Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.