Teaching Look at That

09/02/2022

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TEACHING LOOK AT THAT

One way to teach ‘Look at That’ is with a neutral object. Choose a toy they are not excited by or any small object that you can hold in one hand.

Face your dog and hide the object behind your back so it’s out of sight.

Next bring the object out to one side and hold it still. Wait for your dog to look at it or turn their head towards it. Mark this action and hide the object behind your back again before rewarding your dog.

Note that your dog should not move towards the object or interact with it. If they do, choose a less interesting object and try again.

Continue until your dog is looking at the object reliably.

Then repeat the process but when your dog looks at the object, mark and continue to hold it out as you reward them. You want your dog to be able to look back at you even when the item is still out there.

Keep going until they are looking at the object and then looking quickly back to you, predicting their reward arriving.

Once you are confident they will look at it and look back, you can add a cue as you hold out the object. “Where’s the dog?” or “Where is it?” are good cues to use as they remind you that you are looking for your dog’s answer rather than giving them an instruction.

Now practice with things out in the environment. Start with things that are not too interesting to your dog: a bush moving, a feather on the ground, a neutral person (if they are not reactive to people). Build up to practising with things your dog is concerned about at a distance where they can look calmly.

Once you and your dog understand the game it will really help your dog to note and calmly process potentially scary things that you encounter.

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