Watch me is when you get your dog to look at you when you ask him to. Not only does it help build communication between the two of you, it also helps create, and strengthen your bond.
Teaching a dog the “watch me” command is easy and straight forward. Put a treat between your fingers, hold that hand up to your forehead between your eyes, lean over to shorten the distance between you and your dog, when your dog looks at you say “watch me” then “yes” in an excited voice and give him the treat.
I recommend you get yourself a treat bag if you don’t already have one, so the treats you’ll be using will be close to hand. You don’t want a delay between what you’re asking your dog to do and the reward for doing it!!
Why you should teach your dog the watch me cue
If your dog isn’t looking at you, he’s not paying attention to you, and if he’s not paying attention how will you ever manage to train him??
Very useful when you’re out and about and you need to get his attention
Perfect for a dog that gets easily distracted
Quick notes of interest before you start training
All training is about repetition and consistency, so practice, practice, practice!
Keep sessions short, not more than 5 minutes to start, so your dog doesn’t lose interest
Start off in a quiet area when no one is around, then over time introduce more and more distractions. For example:
- Have someone else sitting in the same room
- Turn the tv on
- Do the training in a different room than usual
- Try it in the backyard
- In the front of the house when the streets are quiet
- Outside when it’s noisier
If your dog fails to look at you you’ve moved too quickly, it’s time to go back to the point where you were consistently getting his attention and go slower.
How to teach your dog the “watch me” command
Lean towards your dog so you’re quite close to his face, this is because you need the closeness to keep him engaged with you. Please be sure you have a good enough relationship to know he’ll be comfortable with that. The last thing you want is for him to jump up at you and cause injury.
Hold a treat in your hand close to your forehead, when your dog looks at you say “watch me” then “yes” in an excited voice and give the treat.
Once you’ve practiced this a few times you should be able to say “watch me” and he will do just that, meaning no more waiting for him to look.
Now that he’s responding well, gradually increase the distance between you – as in start straightening up so you’re not as much in his space and keep practicing “watch me.”
When he responds to the cue every time, you want to phase out the treat and just use a hand signal which I’ll mention in the next step.
Go back to the closeness you started off with in step 1, take your index finger, hold it up to your forehead like you’re making an “L”, have a treat ready in the other hand, say “watch me” and when he does say “yes” and treat.
Before the treat was coming from your eye/forehead so to speak, now it’s coming from your hand which is out of sight to him because he’s focusing on your eye/forehead.
The reason we do this is because you want your dog to focus on you, not the food.
Start off holding a treat in front of your dog’s nose, then slowly bring it up between your eyes. In this method you’re luring him to look where you want and when he does say “yes” and give him the treat.
After a few times of him following your hand and looking at you, add the words “watch me.”
After repeating step 1 multiple times, reward your dog with a treat from your other hand. Meaning…you’ll still have a treat in front of your dog’s nose but instead of giving him that one it will come from your other hand.
Don’t forget to add the cue “watch me.”
Now try step 1 without any treat in your hand, still saying “watch me” when he follows your hand and still offering a reward from the other hand.
Adding a distraction to your “watch me” training
Remember, the goal of this cue is to get your dog to look at you when you ask, not the treat, so here’s a twist that will teach him just that.
Hold a treat to your dog’s nose then move your straight arm out to the side of your body. He now has the choice to stay focused on the treat in your hand or to look at you.
It’s a safe bet he’ll be eyeing that treat the entire time and that’s okay, as long as you do nothing until he looks at you. When he does look say “yes” in that enthusiastic tone of yours, then give him the treat.
When you’ve practiced enough and get to the point where your dog is looking at you instead of the food, say “watch me” before you move your hand to the side.
To keep things simple, I suggest you choose one method and start with that. Read it as many times as you need until it’s clear, and feel free to leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing.
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