Delilah and I got to class a bit early on Tuesday so I’d have the opportunity to discuss her reactivity with our instructor, Jackie.
Jackie’s suggestion is to practice the look command. Some people call it watch, others use look; it really is just a matter of preference.
To train look you put a tiny treat between your thumb and middle finger, then with your pointer finger extended bring your finger up to your nose and say look. When the dog looks directly into your eyes, YES and reward.
Unless you are using the clicker, yes is always the marker. Not good girl, yes.
Once you have your dog looking at your when you say look, you will want to add distractions.
We started the distractions like this. Grab two large, yummy treats one in each hand and place your hands straight down against your legs. Now raise your arms out like you are making a ‘T’ and say look. It may take a few minutes for your dog to get it, that’s okay, once your dog looks you in the eyes, yes (or click if you are using the clicker) and treat.
You will begin to increase your distractions the longer you train. This will become so ingrained in your dog that if a squirrel darts in front of you, you should be able to say look and refocus your dog on you. Now that I’ve written that, I would say you could also use focus.
Jackie said that I really need to watch Delilah’s body language and it’s true, I can usually tell when she is going to react by the way she stiffens her body. The thing is I can never tell which dog she will react to!
While Jackie and I were standing talking, two dogs came in and nothing. The next dog, BAM. I quickly said Delilah look and she spun around to me!
Yay success!! Except I wasn’t supposed to use her name.
Since Jackie had Delilah and I working on look, she thought the rest of the class should work on it as well. Some of them have trained previously with her so they were allowed to go straight to trying the distraction portion. Delilah and I just worked on look.
This class has about eight dogs in it and all the owners are women.
I don’t know all the breeds of dogs but I am slowly learning their names. Jersey is a little black pit bull type dog, who in the previous two weeks came only with her mom. Tuesday night her mom AND dad came to class.
Jersey’s dad said, she won’t look at me, all she does is bark.
Jackie said, you may have to lure her with a treat.
To which he replied, I don’t want to use treats, I want her to look at me because I asked her to.
My inner bitch silently screamed, that is such a male attitude! You must do what I say because I am the man and I am the alpha and dominate being.
I almost said it out loud, but I somehow restrained myself.
Jackie then said well if that’s the case, then you should leave the room when she barks at you and only come back in when she is calm.
He spent the rest of the night going in and out the door.
My inner bitch was laughing herself silly.
With about 10 minutes to go we went outside to work on recalls, using a long check cord. Jackie wanted us outside so we could spread out.
I kept Delilah in the parking lot while everyone else found spots on the grass.
I surreptitiously took a few pictures. They aren’t great shots and you’ll have to excuse the dumpsters, but I wanted a picture of Jersey’s dad for this post.
And here is my pretty girl, tired after doing so much work.
I’m excited to be working with Delilah on look. I think this is going to be a great tool for us.
Oh we also got our clickers last night and started teaching touch. But that’s for another post.
What do you think? Have you ever used this command with a reactive dog and did you have success or not?