Dog Training Eye Contact

How To Train Your Dog To Have Eye Contact

DogEyeContact-PawsitiveStepsDogTrainingSeattleWatch Me!

Having a dog who gives you eye contact and pays attention to you is a real asset in training.  In this exercise, the goal is extended eye contact.

It’s important to treat for any eye contact. When you give a command or cue, all heads should turn towards you and anytime he gives you eye contact during any exercise or break time, he’s earned a treat.

Hold a treat in each hand with arms outstretched. Don’t say anything, just wait.

When eye contact happens, exclaim “YES!” and feed one treat. “YES!” becomes a secondary marker signal.


When he immediately starts looking at you instead of waiting for the treat, cue “Rover, WATCH ME”.

Release the eye contact with “ALL DONE”.

Suggested Cue and Hand Signal

Cue:  “Rover, WATCH ME.” Said in your normal, conversational tone of voice.

Signal:  TOUCH your index finger to the tip of your nose or point your index and middle fingers towards your dog then towards your eyes.

Touch Game

DogTouchGame-PawsitiveStepsDogTrainingSeattleA simple and fun game that can be built into so many different things! A foundation for teaching your dog to distinguish between items, turn on/off light switches, pick up items, be gentle, move their body in an area…TOUCH is a very useful thing. Target sticks (available at class) are useful tools to guide your dog when walking, and to touching other objects, such as turning on/off light switches, retrieving the TV Remote, etc.

Hold a treat in a closed fist; hold your fist out towards the dog. When the dog’s nose comes toward the fist, open your fist and feed the dog the treat. Close your fist without a treat in it this time and see if your dog noses it again. As soon as he does, treat!  He just learned that food does not have to be present to win! This time, hold your fist in a different position, maybe out to the side so your dog has to walk a step or two to get to it. When he does, treat.

You can have your dog TOUCH any item. When they are reliably touching, think of a cue that is appropriate. Do you want to just call it “TOUCH”?  Perhaps you want to name the object he’s touching, to teach item discrimination?

Do you want a nose TOUCH or a paw TOUCH? If you want a paw TOUCH and are only getting a nose TOUCH, try just waiting, the dog will likely paw the item in frustration, “Maybe she didn’t see me TOUCH it?!!” and escalate his behavior.

“Remember, if you do not make the conscious choice to be the Trainer…you are by default, the Trainee.”

Pet Trainer Gayle Ballinger - Pawsitive Steps Dog TrainingAs a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.

If you’re having a difficult time training your dog, don’t have the time to train him properly, or you would like to learn along with your pup.

Group classes are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 but we are doing private lessons and will reopen group classes as soon as we can. Contact me or call me at 206-799-0521


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