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How to Teach Your Dog the Watch Command

Learn to teach your dog the watch command.

The watch command is a fantastic way to teach your dog to pay attention to you, even when there a multitude of distractions vie for his attention. It's a great way to keep your dog focused when you're on a walk together, when another dog runs up and tries to start a fight, or whenever you need to distract your dog from something that you'd rather he leave alone.

The watch command can also help teach your dog other things. For example, if he jumps on people when they come to the door, the watch command can help you teach him that he should stop, be calm, and look at you when someone arrives. Learn more: "How to Manage Your Dog's Over-the-Top Greetings."

General Dog Training Tips

Below, you will find a step-by-step guide for teaching your dog the watch command. But before that, here are some essential tips to remember whenever you're working on dog training:

  • Engage in a rousing play session before you begin training. This will get some of the extra energy out of your dog so he'll be better able to focus on what you're trying to teach him.
  • Use a tiny amount of a treat that your dog can't resist for training. That way, he'll be extremely likely to want to learn what you're teaching as fast as possible to earn the treat.
  • Do your dog training session when your dog is a little bit hungry. That's another way to make sure he'll work hard to earn his treats.
  • Always stay positive during training. Negative reinforcement does not work nearly as well as positive reinforcement for training dogs to do what you want. Instead of focusing on punishment for wrong behavior, always focus on showing your dog what you do want him to do and rewarding him for doing it.
  • Clicker training is a fantastic way to teach dogs to follow commands. It uses a clicking sound to let the dog know when he's doing the right thing. You can click much faster than giving a treat, so it helps the dog figure out what you want much more quickly. Learn more here: "Clicker Training Dogs: An Overview."

Steps for Teaching the Watch Command

Here are the necessary steps for teaching your dog to follow the watch command:

  • Find a quiet area, without distractions that could bother your dog. It may also be helpful to have him on a leash, especially during early training sessions.
  • Get your dog's attention. Place a treat in front of you until he is looking at it and then slowly move it up in front of your face and then around behind your head.
  • As you perform that movement, your dog should end up looking at your face. As soon as he does so, click or say yes and then give him a treat.
  • Repeat that exercise several times until your dog is responding consistently.
  • Begin adding in the word watch as you perform the movement with the treats behind your head.
  • Eventually, say the word watch without moving the treats up and behind your head. Your dog needs to look at your eyes before you click or say yes and offer the treats.
  • Once your dog can consistently perform the command and look at your eyes when you say watch, begin practicing the command while there are distractions going on. You can do that by enlisting a friend to help you. They can be in the room and make noise or do something else interesting nearby.
  • As your dog gets better at responding to the watch command, begin practicing it while he is not on a leash. That way, he'll get used to stopping whatever he is doing and looking at you when you ask him to.
  • Your goal is to eventually be able to take your dog out in public and have him give you his full attention whenever you give the watch command.

Ideally, your dog will eventually watch you until you release him from doing so. You can add in that training once he's consistently responding well to the watch command. Do that by adding another command such as OK to let him know he can stop paying attention to you.

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How to Teach Your Dog the Quiet Command

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