Is this not what every dog owner wants his dog to do? To be obedient? To listen and watch and learn the things he is taught? A fundamental tenant in dog training is this: In order to teach anything to a dog, it is necessary to first have his attention. Fortunately, attention is a behavior, like any other, and is easy to teach and to put on cue. The key to teaching your dog to pay attention to you is for you to become the most interesting thing in his life.
One way to do this is to regularly and spontaneously do the unexpected. Dogs are naturally curious, and this will make certain he always has one eye on you! The unexpected things you do should be of interest to the dog and should generally involve him in some rewarding way. Be careful not to give your dog any hint that your behavior is about to change … no advance warning means he will need to watch you most carefully!
Try the following suggestions for your dog's undivided attention:
- Toss your dog a high value treat, such as a hunk of chicken, when he least expects it
- Talk to yourself quietly in the same voice you use when talking to and praising your dog. Instead of praising him, praise yourself. Pat your own leg the same way you would pat him. Your dog will definitely come to investigate this strange behavior! When he does, turn the talk, petting and praise on him.
- If your dog likes balls, drop an entire box of balls "accidentally" in his presence.
- If your dog alerts to the sound of car keys, grab them suddenly and RUN out of the house.
- Whimper like a puppy at random.
- Drop down to the floor with no warning and begin playing like a dog with his toys. Act surprised when he comes to join you and invite him to an impromptu game.
- Walk past him, dribbling treats from your hands to the floor.
- Pretend you're talking on the phone, and talk about him, using an enthusiastic voice and words he knows. For example, "Oh, yes, FIDO is a GOOD DOG! You should have seen him! I asked him if he wanted to GO and he ran to the door! I have a GOOD BOY! FIDO likes COOKIES! I asked FIDO, DO YOU WANT TO GO?" Then, hang up the phone, and if your dog is looking at you, smile at him, pet and praise him.
The goal is to do things that interest him intensely while pretending to ignore him, and then to reward him when he seeks your attention with profuse enthusiasm and praise.