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Discussion Starter #1
My positive marker is "YES!" in a high-pitched voice. I was taught to use "Gooood" as a continuance marker, that is, to encourage the dog to prolong a behavior. Unfortunately, I never got the hang of how that works and the mechanics of how to teach it. So Jupiter's watch is a quick glance, for example, and I don't have a good tool to teach him to keep staring at me.

The sequence that occurs is:
1. "WATCH"
2. Jupiter looks -> "YES!"
3. Give treat
4. Jupiter looks away.

So how do you ask for continuance and reinforce it?
 

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1. "WATCH"
2. Jupiter looks {1 Mississippi}
3. "YES!"
4. Give treat “Goooood”
(Before he has a chance to look away...)
5. “WATCH”
6. Jupiter looks {1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi}
7. “YES!”

Rinse and repeat.... increasing the time between the action and the marker word. Dog learns to watch as long as it takes for you to mark it. The mark is a bridge to the food. Not sure there’s really a need for continuance if you go about it this way but I added it in there for good measure. It basically is just keeping them engaged.

@Cassidy's Mom ’s dogs are good at this!
 

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I just started increasing the delay between saying watch and when I mark. In a high distraction environment, I am happy with a glance. In a lower distraction environment, I make him work longer to earn the marker.

At first, I would often make a goofy sound after I said 'watch' and before I said the marker. That would keep his attention on me. If I didn't make the noise, he would look away and not get the marker.

I found 'watch' to be a hard thing for me to do right. It was the second this Ole learned. I was trying to get my dog's attention and eye contact. Constantly fumbling with my bait pouch. Watching his ears, tail, and hackles, for stress. Trying to remember the correct word for the command and the marker. Scanning the area for distractions. And finally getting the timing reasonably close. It seems simple, but there is a surprising amount of learning going on for everyone with that simple command.
 

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I wrote a response last night and it seems to have disappeared. Hmmm

Anyways, what Fodder said. I would just add that you should make the duration random after you start getting past a couple seconds. So 1 second, 10 seconds, right away, 30 seconds... This will increase engagement as the dog never knows when the reward is coming.

ETA: I don't add the command until the dog is already making eye contact. WATCH is something I capture with a clicker right when I start training a dog. I just stand there and wait for eye contact, click, reward, and then turn around or take a few steps. It doesn't take long for the dog to start seeking out eye contact. Then you just add the command later, after you know you will get a good response.
 

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ETA: I don't add the command until the dog is already making eye contact. WATCH is something I capture with a clicker right when I start training a dog. I just stand there and wait for eye contact, click, reward, and then turn around or take a few steps. It doesn't take long for the dog to start seeking out eye contact. Then you just add the command later, after you know you will get a good response.
agreed... any response is going to be much stronger when taught this way. i assume you’ve already taught the watch command, but it’s not too late to re teach it this way...

also, very good suggestion from @David Winners on marking duration on a variable schedule... ?? once you’ve consistently gotten to 5 seconds or so.
 

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I have a dog that really, really dislikes making eye contact. Something to be aware of, some dogs just really struggle with maintaining it so patience is key.
As a pup she refused flatly to ever do it. Once she had matured a bit I was able to start but found that if I asked for too much she would go back to none at all.
 

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For continuance, I use multiple treats, and placement/delivery.
ie. for down, teach down, mark & reward by tossing the treat, this causes the dog to get up, and practice going into the down position.
BUT...after your dog understands Down as meaning go into the down position, then I reward in down, treat between the front feet, so there is no reason to get up again. When the dog stays down, you can just keep the treats coming at longer and random intervals.
I don't teach 'watch me', I have a border-collie-ish dog now, he has lazers for eyes.... honestly, though, dogs will usually start watching for clues when you train that way, you can mark and reward eye-contact, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
1. "WATCH"
2. Jupiter looks {1 Mississippi}
3. "YES!"
4. Give treat “Goooood”
Thanks--but at this point, I'm pretty sure Jupiter's attention has shifted to the treat (He is extremely food-oriented. He will often start drooling mere seconds into a training session).

I think I can maybe slowly increase the duration by delaying the marker after the behavior, but he is really fidgety with this command for some reason. His eyes will go back like he's watching mouse ping pong. The odd thing is that in usual life he's quite happy to stare me right in the eyes and certainly shows no aversion to my glance.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
For continuance, I use multiple treats, and placement/delivery.
ie. for down, teach down, mark & reward by tossing the treat, this causes the dog to get up, and practice going into the down position.
BUT...after your dog understands Down as meaning go into the down position, then I reward in down, treat between the front feet, so there is no reason to get up again. When the dog stays down, you can just keep the treats coming at longer and random intervals.
I don't teach 'watch me', I have a border-collie-ish dog now, he has lazers for eyes.... honestly, though, dogs will usually start watching for clues when you train that way, you can mark and reward eye-contact, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing...
I was taught to do this for down, too. Also for a loose-leash walk, I'll reward in the position where I want him to be. I'm not sure how this would work for watch, though. I'm imagining that I hold the food in front of my face, encouraging him to stare at me, and then finally me bringing it toward his mouth in line with my face?
 

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Thanks--but at this point, I'm pretty sure Jupiter's attention has shifted to the treat (He is extremely food-oriented. He will often start drooling mere seconds into a training session).
My point is, providing verbal praise during however long it takes you to get/give the treat and while he’s crunching... is keeping him engaged with you. He doesn’t have to maintain eye contact necessarily, but he needs pay attention just enough (and you need to time yourself well enough) that by that last crunch, you’re already saying “watch”.... not giving him a chance to look away.

I’d honestly forget about any sort of continuance cue for now.... reintroduce the behavior exactly the way you want it using the suggestions that have already been mentioned - then when all is said and done, use verbal praise at any point to further communicate with your dog that he’s doing something you like - it doesn’t have to be so formal.

End result can be “Jupiter watch (Jupiter looks) gooood boy... nice job buddy, watch, good, good watch, yes!” End of exercise, give your boy a treat. Or “Jupiter watch...... (Jupiter looks, 10 seconds of silence), yes!” The end, feed em.
 

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Thanks, everyone, this helped a lot.

We learned 'look' two months ago on our second night of class with a verbal reward 'good-boy' followed by a treat. We were both pretty overwhelmed.

We started clicker training today with 'watch.' After loading the clicker with value. I had Ole sit in front me with my arms outstretched to my sides. I had a treat in each hand. Ole tends to follow the food, so holding a treat in each outstretched arm caused him to glance back and forth between my hand. I capture the glance with a click. Over time, I had him hold the eye contact for a second before mark.

So far it seems more solid than last time. I think the two biggest factors are (1) my better timing on the mark and (2) my confidence that he will do the correct behavior. I remember getting stressed the first time if he looked away or stared at my hand. I started making sounds or jiggling his leash to get his attention.

Tomorrow I will add the verbal cue.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, everyone, this helped a lot.

We learned 'look' two months ago on our second night of class with a verbal reward 'good-boy' followed by a treat. We were both pretty overwhelmed.

We started clicker training today with 'watch.' After loading the clicker with value. I had Ole sit in front me with my arms outstretched to my sides. I had a treat in each hand. Ole tends to follow the food, so holding a treat in each outstretched arm caused him to glance back and forth between my hand. I capture the glance with a click. Over time, I had him hold the eye contact for a second before mark.

So far it seems more solid than last time. I think the two biggest factors are (1) my better timing on the mark and (2) my confidence that he will do the correct behavior. I remember getting stressed the first time if he looked away or stared at my hand. I started making sounds or jiggling his leash to get his attention.

Tomorrow I will add the verbal cue.
Sounds like you're on the right track!

You probably know this, but don't make my mistake and try to use "watch" while there are annoying puppies running around that your dog wants to discipline, or fascinating girl-dog smells on the fire hydrant, or buses whizzing by. In other words, the behavior will have to be gradually trained in more distracting environments, and won't be reliable outside of the kitchen without a great deal of that sort of work (called "proofing.")
 

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But don't make my mistake and try to use "watch" while there are annoying puppies running around.
Ironically, that is when I used 'look' the most. It was a key part of redirecting his attention to me before he would react. I think I used it so much that I think it became background noise. Kind of like we just ignore ads on a website.

Now that 75% of the reactivity is under control. I would like to teach 'watch' from scratch, in a more controlled circumstance.

I am also going to ask my trainer if we can continue going to our reactive dog classes without the one-on-one instructions so we can use that environment for proofing. Last week there was a very solid Black Lab sleeping on his bed. Ole and I walked around the room doing our obstacles and basic obedience drills; sometimes facing the Lab and sometimes facing away. The Labs slept and gnawed a bone without even noticing we were there.

There is no way I could get that kind of structured distraction on my own.

To all the trainers out there... This reactive dog class was a godsend. If you are involved in rescue programs, I would like to encourage you to think about teaching reactive dog classes, to stop at least some of the problems before the dog is dropped off at a shelter for bad behavior.

To be honest, I am pretty sure my trainer runs the reactive dog classes as a community service. There is no way they can come out ahead for what they are charging.
 

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I was taught to do this for down, too. Also for a loose-leash walk, I'll reward in the position where I want him to be. I'm not sure how this would work for watch, though. I'm imagining that I hold the food in front of my face, encouraging him to stare at me, and then finally me bringing it toward his mouth in line with my face?
I find with this kind of training, if you keep marking the moments you get eye-contact, you will get more eye-contact, eyeballs glued to you, it can get a bit much, I have a "go sniff", and "bye, get lost" command, not really joking. Basically, if Sonic is into the training/engagement, he's looking at me anyway, unless it's an incompatible behaviour (jump, send-away). This is great for pet dog training, not so great for sport (I have to work on teaching him not to look at me).
Soooo--for a cued watch me, here's what would do.
Treat in both hands, inside fist. Let dog sniff both, move hands apart. Normally, at some point, your dog will look up a you, mark and open up a hand to give treat. Repeat until you get eyeballs instantly. Say "watch", up criteria, jiggle hands, start dancing, etc. Only when you can be jumping up and down spinning and still have your dog staring at you, then, add an itty bitty delay before reward, aka you add duration last.
For heeling, tippy from a friend, hold a fav toy in your left armpit, (for heel on left).
 

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I find with this kind of training, if you keep marking the moments you get eye-contact, you will get more eye-contact, eyeballs glued to you, it can get a bit much, I have a "go sniff", and "bye, get lost" command, not really joking.
This makes me laugh.

Russ keeps his eyes glued to you at all times. I think in his mind he thinks you might need him to do something, and boy he’s ready. I used to put my hand over his eyes and say stop looking at me, lol. I know some people who would kill for his engagement. He lives with my son now, and he says Russ is such a weirdo, why does he stare at us? I just laugh.

I used to do the same thing, giving him a get lost command too. But he would just go across the room, lie down, and then stare a hole through you.
 

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Two days later, and I dropped 'watch' from our primary training activities. He can hold a look for about 30 seconds... but he starts licking his lips after about 15 seconds and yawning after 20 seconds.

If I am understanding him correctly, I think: Direct eye contact is a challenge, licking his lips means he is nervous or uncomfortable, and yawning means he is trying to diffuse tension.

It is great to see that he is willing to do something even if it makes him uncomfortable. I don't want to cause him unnecessary stress. I thought we could try doing a bunch of short 5-10 second watches over the course of the day to see if he gets used to direct eye contact.
 

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Two days later, and I dropped 'watch' from our primary training activities. He can hold a look for about 30 seconds... but he starts licking his lips after about 15 seconds and yawning after 20 seconds.

If I am understanding him correctly, I think: Direct eye contact is a challenge, licking his lips means he is nervous or uncomfortable, and yawning means he is trying to diffuse tension.

It is great to see that he is willing to do something even if it makes him uncomfortable. I don't want to cause him unnecessary stress. I thought we could try doing a bunch of short 5-10 second watches over the course of the day to see if he gets used to direct eye contact.
or he’s saying 30 seconds is way too much to ask of a 6 month old on day two of learning something new. even if you wanted to push him.... when he’s lip licking at 15 seconds, you do it again, stop at 14 seconds and call it a day.
 

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or he’s saying 30 seconds is way too much to ask of a 6 month old on day two of learning something new. even if you wanted to push him.... when he’s lip licking at 15 seconds, you do it again, stop at 14 seconds and call it a day.
Agreed. He is so willing to work that I have to be careful not to push it. We will take a short break and restart with lower durations in a few days.

He sometimes sits perfectly still and stares at me from behind his baby gate while I eat breakfast. He knows that handling time (and high-value treats) is going to start as soon as I put my dishes in the dishwasher.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Keep in mind that "watch" in the kitchen with some chicken breast nicely cut up on a plate is different than "watch" at the park with lots of toddlers screaming and poodle puppies off-leash cavorting and yapping.

The day Jupiter stares into my eyes soulfully for thirty seconds and gets uncomfortable (I don't know what his comfort level is, but he seems to willingly stare me down as long as I want at home) with lots of distractions is the day I consider our "engagement" training complete.
 

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Keep in mind that "watch" in the kitchen with some chicken breast nicely cut up on a plate is different than "watch" at the park with lots of toddlers screaming and poodle puppies off-leash cavorting and yapping.
That is funny you should say that. I just signed Ole up for a puppy basics II class. He knows* the things covered in the class. I figure it would be a great chance to proof them in the presence of puppies.
 
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