"Watch Me" (Focus) in a food driven pup - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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"Watch Me" (Focus) in a food driven pup

Saber has been pretty easy to train most things, but I am still having no luck with "watch me." I try to get her to just LOOK at my eyes, but all she wants to do is stare at the treat, my hand that might have the treat, the bowl that could have the treat, or where the treat might be hidden. I tried the technique (from those tab youtube videos) of holding the treat by my eyes and saying "watch me" but she is quite obviously NOT looking at my eyes but only at the treat, and when I try to leave the treat out of it and just lure with my finger pointing at my eyes she follows the hand, or looks for the treat.

I also have tried click & treat for just a split second glance at my face, but have not been able to get her to extend it beyond an occasional glance. And if I just wait, and wait, she gets up and whines and starts looking for the treats and biting at my hands without looking at me.

Suggestions?

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 02:14 AM
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This is a big leap of abstract thinking for the dogs looking at you instead of the treat to get the treat - a split second is not bad for her age! Do you randomly reward her during the day for looking at you? If you are clicker training, you should have your clicker and treats on you all day to take advantage of her offering behaviours you want to develop.

Also is you are now trying to extend the focus to more than just a glance, as soon as she looks away, get her attention back at you quick by softly talking to her. When she is looking at you, praise and talk to her to keep her attention on you - but as I was saying, one to two seconds is a good way to start, and I would stick to that for now until she understands and offers the focus on her own, and slowly work up from there.
When I do focus work, I only expect a second or two of focus for the first week, and then slowly move up the amount of time adding a few second a week.

Right now, you have to try and set up the exercise so that she does it right by mistake so that you can mark and reward that.

Lucia


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 04:51 AM
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I think what you are doing sounds right on and if you continue with her she will have a great "watch me"

Like said, it takes a little bit for the pups to have a longer attention span, so just reward for the short time you can get eye contact for now.

It will work out! Then they just start staring at you all the time..lol!
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by kelso View Post
I think what you are doing sounds right on and if you continue with her she will have a great "watch me"

Like said, it takes a little bit for the pups to have a longer attention span, so just reward for the short time you can get eye contact for now.

It will work out! Then they just start staring at you all the time..lol!
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LOL my sister calls him a german creeper (she's a new yorker) because he'll usually sit and stare at her if he wants something.

To the OP, teaching focus is tough and is a long process. The way I did it was with a treat at first and a toy later. I would hold the treat with a closed fist somewhere in front of me and let the dog smell it. Then I'd say "watch me" once and just leave my hand there. He used to get frustrated and eventually he'd look up, even just out of frustration or confusion - that's your moment to open the hand and give a release command. Rinse and repeat

After he understood what watch me means I started working with a toy. After a short play session (really short like a minute or two just to get him excited but not hyper and definitely not tired) I'd have him in a basic position (sitting to my left) and the toy was held on my right hand. It's important not to move the toy or tease the dog with it. I'd say watch me and just wait and again the second he looks up at my eyes I'd give the release command and do it over and over and over and over (but not in one session )

I liked the idea of holding the toy in a natural position from the beginning (this is from Ivan Balabanov by the way). A lot of people will start by holding the toy under the left armpit. While I've seen it work well a lot of times, I've also seen it backfire where the dog will focus on the toy and not you - also called "fake attention".

Anyway hope this helps and good luck! Just remember not to expect too much because it is a difficult exercise - requiring impulse control and problem solving out of the dog.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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Lucia, good idea with the clicker. I need to get a wristband thing so I always have it with me. I keep treats with me already so that if I say her name and she comes I give her one often.

Okay so maybe she is age appropriate then and I just need to continue and capture the looks when they occur naturally more often. Thank you guys for the tips!

Shawn
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 10:06 AM
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when teaching Dodger "watch me" I got out some treats and a clicker. I had him in a sit and took a treat and held it next to my eyes and clicked the second he glanced at my eyes. even if he just glanced a clicked. once he understood what I wanted I started clicking for length, the longer he looked the better. he's still learning watch me it will more than likely be an on going thing because dogs don't usually like looking into their leaders eyes because to them it's a challenge and usually ends up in a fight, but it can be done you just have to condition them to look at you eyes. now I make him watch me for everything. he wants out? sit and watch me, he wants to go smell? sit and watch me abs every time I try to lengthen the time he watches me before he gets to do what he wanted. eventually I did fade out the treats unless we're outside in a busy area like a park then I treat him, but usually he either gets to go smell or a quick game of tug.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 03:35 PM
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You might try the zen trick. Stand with your dog facing you on a lead. Let the lead go (step on it if you have to keep the dog from jumping). Take a treat in each hand and hold each hand out from your shoulders to the side palm up with a treat on palm. The dog tends to look from hand to hand wondering how to get the treat. In doing so at some point he will look at your eyes. The instant he does, say "good" (can't really click unless you are three handed). Then give him one of the treats. Repeat the entire thing a few times. My puppy caught on right away and does not even look at my hands now when I do the zen trick. She just stares at my eyes waiting for the "good" signal. Good luck.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Castlemaid View Post
Do you randomly reward her during the day for looking at you? If you are clicker training, you should have your clicker and treats on you all day to take advantage of her offering behaviours you want to develop.

Also is you are now trying to extend the focus to more than just a glance, as soon as she looks away, get her attention back at you quick by softly talking to her. When she is looking at you, praise and talk to her to keep her attention on you - but as I was saying, one to two seconds is a good way to start, and I would stick to that for now until she understands and offers the focus on her own, and slowly work up from there.
When I do focus work, I only expect a second or two of focus for the first week, and then slowly move up the amount of time adding a few second a week.
All of the above! This is exactly what I do - I want a very strong default "watch" without having to ask for it, as well as be able to get my dogs to watch me on cue.

I'm not a fan of luring up to my face, because as you've noted, it's hard to tell if they're actually looking at YOU, or the food right next to your face. I start by holding the food with my arm hanging at my side, or even holding it out in front of pup's nose. I don't say a thing, I just WAIT. It can take a little while for the pup to stop trying to get the treat and to look away from it, but being super food driven (Halo is exactly the same way!) I think works for you in this case because she's going to be highly motivated to learn how to "make" you give her the food. And with the food down low, it's very obvious when puppy looks away from the food and up at your face. Mark that split second and reward.

Until you can hold out a piece of food and her head immediately whips up and she give you eye contact, consistently, every single time you do this, I wouldn't worry about extending the amount of time. I also do what Lucia suggested, capturing eye contact whenever it was spontaneously offered up by the puppy. I wear my treat bag all the time for the first few months with a new puppy, it only comes off at bedtime when they go in the crate. My bag has a metal ring, like a keychain, and I can attach my clicker to the ring with a small carabiner. I also have a wrist coil, but sometimes it's easier to leave it on the bag, then click and reach into the bag for a treat at the same time.

The more she's rewarded for looking at you, the more she's going to do it. To build on that, make eye contact work for EVERYTHING. Again, don't even ask for it, just wait patiently, then mark and reward. Going outside (once she's housebroken), coming inside, getting in the car, getting out of the car, coming out of her crate, before being allowed to eat, before getting a bone or chewtoy, before throwing a ball, before taking a toy, anything you can think of. In this case she's getting real life rewards, giving her access to valued resources rather than food.

At some point when you're pretty sure she gets the program and will reliably look at you under certain circumstances, give your verbal cue for the behavior right before, then mark and reward the second she looks at you. Work on it to where no matter what she's doing you can say "watch" (or whatever your cue is) and her head immediately whips around to make eye contact, and THEN start working on extending that by a second or two. There's no point in trying to get her to look at you on cue and hold your gaze for 4 seconds until you know she fully understands the cue in the first place.

I also do what Lucia does, I let them know that they're doing the right thing by talking to them - "gooood, that's it, nice job, excellent....", and if they look away before I mark and reward I might say "ack!" or "oops!" and when they look back I continue the praise. You don't want her to think that because she hasn't heard the click and gotten a reward that she's not doing the right thing. I use my voice and facial expression a lot too, to show that I'm happy and pleased with them.

I can't remember - have you been doing the It's Yer Choice game with her? That will show her very quickly that she needs to ignore the food and look at you in order to get the food. I practiced a short time with Halo every day.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Debbie, I have done it's yer choice but rewarded her for getting OFF my hand, teaching the OFF command (which is what I tell her when she mouths or bites, as well as when she jumps up on something). I wasn't using it to teach eye contact but that's a good idea. She does take FOREVER to look at my eyes, she is SO intent on the food.

I will try the zen thing, and also what you described Debbie. Steph, I think that's a good idea. We are right now working on her sitting for everything AND waiting for a release, but I will add eye contact in there later too. Thank you!

Shawn
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 05:53 PM
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Tag has been hard to teach focus to. First he's easily attracted to anything that moves. Second, He's also very food driven and it can be difficult to break his attention on his treats. In addition he is also handler sensitive- he doesn't seem to want to look a person square in the eyes, but will kind of look sideways. For some dogs looking directly in the eyes can be a little uncomfortable.

We used clickers and fast releases with really good treats and use it for just about everything. We also started shaping the behavior as opposed to capturing it because he was reluctant to offer it. Puppy wants to eat? At first even a general glance in the direction of my face, got the food. And then you build from there. Then with maturity and consistent rewarding it has gotten very good. Some dogs are just naturals when it comes to eye contact and some just need longer.

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