Now that we are off the floor the pups attention has a tendency to wander. We would like to keep that attention on us and get the pup to look at us whenever we need to distract its attention from some other interesting thing. This can be a lifesaver when out for a walk and the neighborhood cat sprints across the road in front of the pup. A quick “Watch Me” will redirect the pups attention and keep it from bolting out into traffic.
So how do we teach the “Watch me” command? Get a treat, put it in front of the pups nose, then bring it up to your face. The pup’s attention will be drawn up to your face. When you make eye contact, say “Watch Me” and give the pup the treat. As with any of these commands, repetition is the key. Repeat this for 5 minutes at the start and end of each training session for a week or two. Eventually just saying “Watch Me” will cause the pup to make eye contact with you.
Now, the Release. How do you make all this training fun for your pup? Well a happy release is the way to go. Once upon a time I had a trainer that said to use my happy voice. He went on to elaborate, if you think you sound like an idiot when you are doing this then you are doing it right! When the pup does something absolutely perfectly, or has made a quantum leap from what it was doing previously, a happy release is warranted. With an excited voice, you say “OK” then take a step or two backwards and give the pup a big reward! Make sure the reward is followed up with some vigorous petting and excited happy exclamations. The release word is “OK” but the follow-up words can be anything. eg. Yahoo, Yipee, Yay! etc. Make sure that you take a couple of steps backwards to get the dog coming in to you for this. We will build on this during the recall. It also gets the dogs attention focused on you similar to the “Watch Me” command.