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A dog that can quickly offer eye contact when you call their name is wonderful thing!

This exercise teaches your dog to respond to the sound of their name with eye contact.  Typically, we call our dog because we want their attention and this is a fun way of teaching them that this is what is expected of them.  Something to keep in mind is that we want to try our best to only use our dog’s name in a positive manner.  If we use their name in an angry or scary way, they will learn to run the other way when they hear that word rather than giving us the response we want.


Step One

  • Start with a handful of treats and put a piece of food under the dog’s nose to get their attention.
  • Say your dog’s name in an enthusiastic voice as you are bringing the food up to your eye line
  • If your dog makes even a split second of eye contact, mark, feed and repeat
  • If your dog does not make eye contact, repeat your action of moving the food from the dog’s nose to your eye line, but do not repeat the dog’s name
    • Remember: Only say the dog’s name once and give only one treat per name. We want to teach our dogs to respond the first time we ask for something and we get that by not repeating ourselves.

Step Two

  • Have treats in both hands. One hand you are going to feed your dog from, the other hand has the food that will be used as a distraction
  • Show the dog the piece of distraction food and hold your arm out to the side of your head
  • As the dog is looking at the food in your hand, call your dog’s name
  • When they give you even a split second of eye contact, mark and reward it.
  • Repeat until the dog is looking back at you almost immediately upon calling their name

Step Three

  • Wait until the dog is distracted and call their name
    • If they don’t respond in a timely manner you can make noise or use your food to get their attention at first
  • If they turn and look at you, mark and feed them
  • Repeat until the dog is responding quickly after hearing their name
  • Then you are ready to take it on the road and begin practicing in increasingly distracting environments like on walks, at the pet store, or any new place.