The Administrator from the Great White North, eh?
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Northern British Columbia
The dog looking at the handler is for focus. If the dog is looking at you, they are not looking around being distracted. If they are looking at you, they are ready and waiting for the next command. Once that foundation of focus is in place, everything else just falls into place.
I come from IPO, and decided to try rally for something to do in winter. With only two or three practice sessions with the different signs, a friend and I entered a trial and had no problems (with the dogs - me doing the signs correctly is another story).
You could see the difference between the dogs that have been trained for eye-contact heeling, and those that have not. Those that did not have that focus were very distracted by smells, sights and sounds, and the handlers struggled to keep their attention.
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Keeta BH, OB1, TR1, AD
Rottweiler/Hairy Dog mix?? 2004-2015