You can teach any dog how to "watch" using this method, I prefer working
with younger puppies, but I have found great success using this method on
older adolescents and adults. The one thing about dogs, is they live to
please, so once you figure out what it is you want them to learn, and you
are quick to give them praise, you will find success.
I will try to add a few pictures in the future.
Your Show Prospect How to "Watch"
foremost, this should be fun, and yet a mandatory step to having a well
trained and show loving companion that has the “sparkle” and the “look at
me” attitude we are all striving for.
thing is that no dog is too young or too old to learn this – it turns into a
big game – one I use on all of my dogs, even my retired show dogs. As they
become more proficient in the game they tend to “look” for the game whenever
we are together.
thing to keep in mind…is this is Behavioral Modification – most if not all
dogs all ready have prey drive…so what we are trying to do is “harness” that
drive to a specific set of behaviors – which is to stand still and watch my
hand with “restrained excitement” – until I say otherwise.
Okay – so
let me explain what “restrained excitement” is… the wild eyed, muscles
tensed, ready to pounce, wanting to bark in excitement - because the mailman
is in the front yard. The goal is to have the dog gently straining on
the collar to watch and or pounce on something. So the goal is watching and
not moving…easier said then done for some dogs!
should be wearing the appropriate collar and lead that you would be using in
the ring – as they get better at it, you can eventually forego the collar –
but you will need it in the beginning to control the dog, and to offer
corrections as needed. This is a game, but there are still punishable
behaviors… by punishable, I mean a quick jerk of the lead/collar, or the
word HEY, and the like…not a chain beating!
toy that the dog is either genuinely interested in or moderately – if it
makes a noise – all the better. I find my dogs tend to like toys that are
small and furry (rabbit fur), or toys that make an odd noise – I have used
toys that bark and growl...you have to look for these, but they do exist.
It doesn’t have to be a squeaky – odds are great that you will wean off of
this toy for something else in the future – like your hand, or bait, a
floating fuzz ball, or the small yappy dog outside of the ring!
Important – this toy is ONLY to be used for this training session – the dog
should not have 24/7 access to it, otherwise it loses its’ pizzazz and fun
factor. For the duration of the lesson, I will refer to the toy as making
a squeak noise – just means for you to make the toy make its’
noise...whatever it may be.
Next – cut
up bits of hotdog, or other small moist treat that you can have on the ready
at a moments notice – I typically stuff these in my mouth, or in a bunch in
my hand – the key is that you can reward the dog almost instantly – that
they aren’t waiting for you to get it all together! The longer they wait
for the reward – the longer it will take for them to “get it”.
The “word” –
this is likely one of the hardest things to come up with – it wouldn’t seem
like it, but somehow… I prefer the word “watch” and “watch it”. “Watch” is
generally used for the toy, and “watch it” is for the yappy dog outside the
ring, and the floating fuzz ball. Consistency to the word is important –
your consistency with using it appropriately and rewarding quickly.
“target” word as it is – lets you “control” your dog verbally – at one show
there was a rather large, loud man, changing the garbage can liner at an
indoor show… SCARY!!!! – NO!!!! IF you utilize your “target” word
appropriately…now the garbage guy is “watch it”… you get the dog so frenzied
at watching the guy, all your dogs wants to do is jump on him… he stops
being a fearsome creature, and has now entered into “the game”…. So think of
all of the things that happen ringside that can now become targets of “the
game”…the list is literally endless… remember it is not the garbage guy—it
is the “watch it” command that the dog is working with – the guy is just the
to keep in mind
Okay so you
have the lead, the toy, the “word”, and the bait - now for the hard parts
–putting it all together.
All of this
training is done in steps… small steps, lead to bigger steps, walking leads
to running. If the dog ceases to make the appropriate behavior change, then
a correction may be needed – most likely, a step back in training is also
necessary. Start with a small attainable goal…1-2 sec, then up to 3-5,
6-10… the individual goal is up to you, but be reasonable. I expect a good
30 seconds from my dogs in the show ring a bit longer for adults – that are
FULLY trained to the game.
should take place in a quite, distraction free area in the beginning – and
then move up to more distractions, training at home, and at ringside, are
ALL encouraged. In the ring as well is great - providing you have a
multi-dog entry. 10-15 minutes a day should provide you with some really
great results within 7 days.
What is YOUR
reward? – That your dog will “watch” you for longer and longer periods of
time, because you are taking the time to work with them.
The order of
things is VERY important – speed and accuracy is of the essence!
should come like this… “Yes!”, and then a bit of treat (“Yes!” should be
said rather excitedly)
should be like this… “Uh Uh!” or “No!”, and a slight tug on the collar
(“No!” should be said with disdain and disappointment”)
does not have to be will be loose at the base of the neck initially (no
contact), lead in the left hand as well. Small bits of bait and the toy are
in your right hand…
caution – the idea is for the dog to stand still – this is of course
difficult if you want the dog to be restrained excitement… this is a work in
progress – I use a finger pointing in the air to signal – don’t jump and to
stay - you can use your whole hand as well. Of course, now you are
asking…What hand?!?!?... well… that is more difficult when we have the toy
– so …one finger might be the option… thumb holding the toy and some of the
bait, and your pointy finger up in the air. You will need to have the
hand/finger directed at the dog in a commanding way – be sure to step away,
to the side, or into the dog if they are getting too exuberant. You can give
a verbal correction of “no” or “uh-oh”, I do not suggest a lot of voice
inflection – keep it monotone.
Get the dogs
attention with the toy, squeaking it, waving it (somewhat wildly) – once the
dog looks at it (no command!), say “yes”, give the dog a treat – continue to
wave and/or squeak the toy until the dog looks at it…no dog name, no
“word”... Let the toy some of the work. Once the dog has done this exercise
at least 5 times, on the final try, give the toy to the dog – let him have
it for a few seconds and then retrieve the toy.
Now that the
dog is fairly reliably at least looking at the toy when it is squeaked or
waved or the combination of the two we can now add in the “word” of your
So now, the
order of the command will be –
(squeak/shake toy), “Yes!”, bit of bait (so at this stage the dog is likely
only glancing at the toy for a second… but it will get longer. Right now,
you are getting the dog to associate the word “watch” to the toy, and the
toy to the bait. There is NO correction at this point – unless the dog is
really ignoring you – remember, we can’t have a correction if there is no
behavior knowledge. (Sort of like them not knowing to not jump on people
until you have told them!)
feel that your dog is comprehending the idea that they are to look at the
toy – you want to gradually extend the time that they are looking at the toy
(without moving – or minimal moving - and without looking away). Remember
the time frame should be quite short in the beginning, gradually increasing
If you get
your dog up to 10-15 seconds in the beginning, and you begin seeing that the
dog’s interest in the toy is waning – you may need to have a new toy. If you
see that while they are interested in the toy, but they are easily
distracted, now you need to add in the correction.
correction is quick and succinct, do not belabor the point. The ideal
correction is a jerk or snap of the collar and lead quickly, add in the word
“watch”, squeak the toy, and be prepared to praise with voice and treat
have had to use the correction it is time to reduce the time used for the
“watch” command, not back to the beginning, but reduce the time.
When the dog
is reliably looking, and is quick to respond to any of the corrections and
especially if the dog is looking to you before and despite the “watch”
command, it is time to up the ante – so to speak.
ante is additional “watch” time to 45-60 seconds, creating a bit more
“attitude”, and creating arch of neck. When we attempt to create the arch of
neck, requires the collar to be up on the neck, precisely as if the dog were
being shown. By keeping the left hand on the collar and NOT letting the dog
lower his neck, and then using the right hand with the toy, slowly (step by
step) lowering the toy towards the floor – gives the pretty arch.
that I use often in teaching the arched neck is using the grooming arm and
grooming table. Depending on the size of the dog, this is very feasible, but
if you have a Great Dane or other giant breed, it becomes a bit more
difficult. For the sake of this tutorial, I will describe the grooming arm
method for medium sized dogs. For larger dogs, you will need to be a bit
ingenious, perhaps attaching a grooming arm to a table, having the dog
“work” from the floor.
dog on the grooming table, put the head/neck in the noose, and lift the arm
until the noose is snug on the neck – much like you would if you were
holding the collar in the ring. Ultimately preventing the dog from lowering
its’ head. The dog should be standing – a stack is not required, but you are
welcome too. Once the dog becomes comfortable with the noose, and is
willingly taking treats (with no commands) – then begin the whole “watch”
lesson again, a few seconds building up to longer periods – because the dog
has all ready been exposed to this training, the lengthening of time may
come quickly. Slowly lower your hand, stopping and treating along the way.
Again, each time you lower your hand the training begins again with the time
frame you expect them to “watch”. Once you are able to get your hand to the
floor – and the dog is reliably watching the toy, drop the toy, and point at
it, with the “watch” command… again, building up the time. Eventually you
will be able to drop the toy and say watch, and the dog will be looking for
Be sure to
NOT do all of this in one day – limit your lessons to a total of 15 minutes
a day – if you are able to break up the sessions to 5 minutes a few times a
day, all the better. Quality of the training will far surpass the quantity.
or adult dog will only find this fun, IF YOU are also having fun. So ensure
that the “watch” command is in a uplifting tone, one that encourages the dog
and yet it is still a firm command. The “yes” command is a happy tone, quick
and satisfyingly happy toned.
Be sure to
give the bait quickly – this could be the difference between success and