The object of this exercise is to simultaneously build focus while changing the dog’s attitude toward a trigger (a dog, a person, an object, etc.). We want to teach the dog that it is safe to look at the trigger. By rewarding a dog for looking at something or someone they are worried about, we not only change their behaviour. We change the dog’s emotional response, as well.
This exercise teaches your dog that good things happen when the trigger is present. Your dog learns that those good things come from you and all you want them to do is look at their trigger. In time, the environmental trigger can then become the CUE to return their focus back to you!
Ideas for cues: “look at that”, “check it out”, “who’s that?”, “where’s your friend?”, “what’s that?”, (OR you may choose not to name this one at all.)
It is extremely important that the dog is not anxious or stressed when implementing this exercise. This is called keeping the dog ‘under threshold’. If the dog is reacting to the trigger, then you need to increase the distance between the dog and that trigger.
Need a refresher on how to effectively train a behaviour? Click here.