The early stages of your relationship you really need to get your dog to focus on you as the center of life. This starts quite simply. When spending time with your dog, you must make sure the training time is free from distractions. You must be able to focus on your dog.
Complete focus on your dog invites the reciprocal – your dogs undivided focuses on you.
This is so important in the early stages of training. What this focus on each other does is strengthens your bond, allows you to pick up on the subtleties of each others communication, make training fun for the dog. One of the first things you will find out is you dogs attention span (it will be short – but this understanding helps you). The dog will start learning your cues which becomes very important later when you try to do things together.
For our games you need motivators. Good breeders provide dogs with positive motivators (we usually use balls or tugs for motivators as they love things that move – called prey drive). They should send the dog home with these motivators or a favorite treat as a motivation. If not any food usually works for puppies provided you have not just fed the puppy.
Game 1 – Teach the dog to look into your eyes. Just bring a finger up to your eye. The dog will follow the finger because they love to watch things that are moving. As soon as the finger gets close to the eye you will make eye contact. Right away say ‘yes’ or whatever your trigger word is (click of you a clicker trainer) and reward with you motivator. Eventually work the word ‘look’ into this exercise when you point at your eyes.
Game 2 – Teach the dog its fun to be close. Put the motivator 3-4ft away from you. Draw it into your body so the dog chases it close. Say yes and reward the dog. Eventually work in the word ‘here’ or ‘come’ in with this exercise. They will love to come to you after this.
You should take the opportunity when the dog is close to love your dog up. This touching will add to the joy of the time and make your dog want to play with you even more. You cannot love your dog too much, this is true for any dog, whether companion, service, police patrol, or guard dog. They are social animals and love to be loved and play with people they trust (even as geriatrics they love to play if they have complete trust).
End of Tip #1 Focus, focus, focus
The next tip will talk about using triggers to establish initial basic communication with your dog.