It’s problematic to see your dog easily distracted. During walks when he easily goes after squirrels and barks at people it can be pretty frustrating. Is the scenario of him always wanting to sniff something a common occurrence?
A pet that’s constantly distracted can delay your walk with them. But don’t worry there’s a solution. It’s to train your dog to look on command. A sure-fire way to keep your dog away from distraction and help him regain his focus.
Look on command is something that might be considered ridiculous but it has its benefits. Does this mean drawing your dog’s attention to something that risks overexciting him? Not really.
Teaching a dog to look on command means returning his attention to you. In situations that are totally unpredictable you can gain a sense of control.
Tell them where to look
If you know your dog is interested in a certain object, hold it behind your back. If it’s a squeking toy make your dog hear it to catch their attention. If it’s something have them glance at it before putting it behind you. Make sure it catches his eye.
To make this more effective, make your dog look at you first and when eye contact is made bring out the hidden object and place to your side opposite to where your dog is previously looking at. If his attention is succesfully diverted make sure to reward him.
Now, when it comes to giving the reward make sure you pull the dog’s attention to you. Make his back turn away from the distraction by giving the reward from the opposite direction. This way, you can encourage the behavior that shifting attention to you is something positive they must do.
Use the word “look” when catching his attention just as he is about to turn around. It helps if you understand the bodly language of your dog when he is about to shift his attention.
Making the command practical
Eventually your dog will get used to the “look” command. All you have to do is to continue practicing and give him rewards when he succesfully shifts his attention back to you. Now a more nuanced approach is to wait for your dog to make eye contact after looking at your item before giving them the reward.
You can also use a different verbal cue like make noise similar to a kissing sound but louder. If he redirects his attention back to you then reward him as soon as possible.
Once the look command is mastered and your pet is looking at you no matter what item you are hoding it’s time to gradually increase the difficulty by using the command in an environment full of distractions. One example would be during walks just when someone or another dogs would pass by the two of you.
Soon you will no longer need a toy or item to execute this command effectively. What you can do instead to point at a different direction where they might look at something intruiging but not too stimulating for them to go near it.
After all the practice you’re going to have your dog responding to the look command in situation filled with a lot of distractions.