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Attention Please

This Lesson Is Also Essential
If you donít have your dogís attention, it will be very hard to teach him anything. This next step - Attention - is essential if your training is going to be effective. Donít skip this part, and itís a good policy to always begin any training session with a little "Charging" and "Attention" to set the training mood.
So Lets Get Started
Once again, go into a quiet room that doesnít have a whole lot of distraction, one where your dog already finds you more than usually interesting (the kitchen is usually best!). Have your bowl of tasty treats ready. Say your dog's name ONCE in an upbeat, happy voice. When he turns to look at you, C/T only once. Then, let him get a bit distracted by something and do it again. And again! You are looking for him to acknowledge that he has heard his name by looking at you. If he doesnít look at you, but maybe lifts his head, or flicks an ear to indicate he heard his name, Thatís OK too. Itís also okay at this point if he is just looking at your hand, after all, thatís where the click and treats are coming from. Many dogs will also come closer to you which is fine but not required. If, when you first say his name, he doesn't look, then reach forward and gently touch him on the side or something so he turns around. Even if he doesn't look right at you, C/T. He'll soon get the idea!

Once he is consistently responding to the sound of his name, you want to start shaping the behavior so that he is actually giving you eye contact. For many dogs, this is accomplished by warming up as you have been, then saying his name again, but NOT clicking if he looks anywhere except your eyes. If he has been looking at, say, your hands, he'll likely try that again (since it has worked so well so far!), but be patient and wait. You are hoping that he will get frustrated, give up, and look up at you as if you say, "What??" As soon as he does make eye contact, you C/T and praise! From now on, when practicing attention in a quiet area, your dog has to give actual eye contact to receive a C/T from you. This is "Shaping" the behavior youíre trying to get. You will keep asking a little more as you progress to the behavior goal you have set.
Attention Progression - Donít Go TOO FAST
Here is an example of how the attention behavior might progress for you. GO SLOWLY.

1. Turning his head when he hears his name C/T. This is where it all begins.

2. Looking in your direction when he hears his name. Maybe just looking at your hand with the clicker in it. Just hold off on the click until he turns and looks in your direction. C/T. Weíre making progress.

3. Looking in your eyes when he hears his name. Again, hold off on the click until he looks into your eyes. C/T. YES !!

4. Increase attention span. Hold off on the click until he has kept his eyes on you for 5 seconds. C/T. Increase the attention span very gradually until he will look into your eyes for about 15 seconds. Now weíve got it.

5. Begin to add distractions. Mild distractions at first and gradually increase them. Start with people walking by, then kids or people playing with increased noise, build up to other animals being around. If you begin to lose the attention you had, always go back a few steps and proceed slowly. It will happen.

** Important Note: Once you begin working on attention with his name it is very important that you never use his name in a negative way. For instance, never say, "ROVER, NO" in a harsh way. Simply use the word "NO" for a correction. If he responds to his name and something negative happens, he may begin to ignore the sound of his name. You certainly donít want that to happen.
Now that you've got his attention you are ready to begin some serious training. You can continue on with the the "Sit" command or you can select any lesson in the right column to begin with. Each lesson from here on is completely self contained.

Online Dog Training Lessons
Introduction To Clicker Training
The Clicker
Sit and Stand
Loose Lead Walking
Training Tips

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