Teaching Your Chi to Focus Only on You and Why It’s Important
The very first thing you should teach your dog after potty training is to focus on you. It is a big distracting world out there. Even in the house your dog can hear and smell things that you can’t, these too are distracting to a dog. If he learns to focus on you when commanded to do so in spite of the distractions around him, it will be much easier to teach him anything that you want to teach him.
Why Can’t I Just Call Him By Name To Get His Attention?
Throughout the day you will use his name numerous times and for many different reasons. You may even yell his name from time to time. Your dog becomes desensitized to the sound of his name and he will most of the time simply ignore it. Worse, if you have yelled his name and then punished him for some reason, he may even cower when he hears his name.
The term you will use to get his attention must be a unique term that is only used to get his attention and it must be a consistently positive occasion for the dog.
Start each training session when he has not had contact with you for a while. Maybe first thing in the morning (after he has been out to potty) or after a long nap. Put a leash on him so that you will maintain control.
Some dogs are motivated by food regardless of when they ate last. If your dog does not always show interest in food, start the training session before you feed him his meal. Most dogs, however are motivated by SOME type of food. Use whatever you know to be his favorite treat. Tiny bits of hot dog are usually a dog favorite. Generally anything that has a strong smell is best.
Because Chihuahuas are small, you need to get on your knees or sit in a low chair or stool at a level that it is easy for them to look you in the eye. Hold the treat at your eye level, either right in front or slightly to the side of your eyes.
You might say his name and then the term you are going to use. You could use, “ready”, “focus” or “look”. It does not matter what term you use as long as you use that same term consistently and only for the purpose of getting his attention on you. As an example you could say; “Spot Look”. You can begin each session that way, but for the rest of the training session only use the term you intend to use.
When he looks directly at you, give him the treat and praise.
Practice this as many times during the day you want, just be sure to make each session no more than 5-10 minutes each. Continue to practice consistently and gradually start to demand longer and longer periods of focus from him.
Teaching your dog to focus only on you and to ignore everything else around them is a necessary skill for your dog to know. The reasons why are numerous. If you have a dog that tends to be aggressive with other dogs, while on a walk you can make them focus on you and distract them when another dog walks by. The same goes for cats, squirrels, etc. The list of times that this will come in handy is long.
Video on Eye Contact: