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I've said over and over that teaching a GSD to focus, or to "look at me" is something I've never done or needed to do, because that's their default. And in fact, I'd never even thought about it before joining this forum and reading about it.

But the more I've thought about it, the more I realized that I have always taught that! I just never put a word or command to it.

While on one hand I might have saved myself time and effort by teaching a focus or "look at me" command directly, on the other hand it seems valuable for my dogs to have learned that watching me closely was their own idea!

So I'm curious. How many teach a "look at me" command (by whatever name or word you use)??
 

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I've just adopted a 5 yo and that is where I am starting. She knows many commands and responds, but doesn't really 'look' at me while responding or for direction. I think it will help with the bonding and I'm using food. Even then, responds best when she is hungry, before a meal.
 

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I teach it also.It's handy for asking for 100% focus at the beginning of a competitive event or walking through a crowd.But you're right Tim,our dogs pretty much keep close tabs on us all of the time.
 

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I’m working on it. But there’s no word to it. I just reward eye contact


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I sure do teach it! I put the word "watch me" on the behavior and reward it richly.
Sheilah
 

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I used to... when I was newer to the breed it was actually a member here that I got the idea from after observing her with her dogs. Keystone knows it but it’s used infrequently. Mainly for impulse control. I can’t remember when I added the command, started off just marking it.

When I started training guide dogs, that hard stare eye contact was discouraged for multiple reasons.... it was a hard habit for me to break, so I stopped doing it at home as well.
 

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We were taught the "look at me" "watch me " commands in puppy class with treats. In advanced class with a private trainer we just marked eye contact with a reward of a verbal yes. We don't use it much now and because we don't the verbal command itself isn't often obeyed. That said my girl "checks in" with eye contact on walks, play time and refresher training often without a prompt. Eye contact and focus gets a verbal reward often.
 

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Yep, getting your dog's attention and getting them to focus on you, was actually the first thing the trainer taught in obedience class!

I used it a lot to break Rumo's focus on other dogs when we were passing by them. I use it less now...but I still will praise and say ""Hi Rumo!" when he checks in with me on walks. ( I have no idea or memory when it happened, but somehow my "look at me" morphed into this weird little sound like "tsst" "tsst"... it seemed to work better than words for getting his attention. )
 

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I suspect that @Fodder and I have similar reasons for not wanting a fixated stare - i.e. watch me command - from a dog.

Focus, eye contact, full attention when appropriate, YES. Fixation or constant staring as in a focused heel no.

The big difference, for me at least, is when I'm around other dogs or walking through a crowd, the last place I want my dogs full attention is on me! I prefer she scan the crowd.

Aware of me and our trajectory yes, changes in direction yes, a command from me yes, but otherwise survey all that's around us. Situational awareness, on the dog's part, is more important to me.

I get that training a focused heel is a good way to communicate to a dog when you want 100% focus and when you don't, when in sport competition. And some dogs execute it amazingly, and are a pleasure to watch in action! But outside of competition, do you find that commanded focus is useful??
 

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I expect my dog to look at me in a static and walking heel. This includes heeling with the dog being tapped by a clatter stick. Also in sits and down with me about 15' away while distractions are around and close to him.
 

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I teach it, though I usually say, "Watch" which is then followed by a command (e.g., Sit, Come, Here, Down, etc.). Since we don't do formal OB (where that fixed stare would be appropriate), "Watch" is a signal that a command will follow that requires their immediate compliance. By contrast, I use "Look" when I want the dog to look where I'm pointing. (Nothing like having a dog sight down your arm at something, always makes me smile). "Look" also nicely sets the stage for "Find It" when we do nosework games.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I expect my dog to look at me in a static and walking heel. This includes heeling with the dog being tapped by a clatter stick. Also in sits and down with me about 15' away while distractions are around and close to him.
Chip, do you have an alternate command for just going for a walk in the neighborhood or in a park?
 

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If I am going on or off the training field for bite work, and not doing so with a focused heel, I use the "walk" command which just means the dog has to be going forward and not pulling toward the decoy or barking, but is in control of himself. I see too many people coming out to do bite work and as soon as the dog sees the decoy, he goes crazy and I believe that leads to attention and control problems that are easily prevented by what I just described. If I am just out with my dog on leash, I don't tell him anything. He can walk where and however he wants as long as he is not pulling excessively. If you have ever seen video of the German show line dogs walking around the stadium out front of the handler, that is pretty much how he walks. Pretty much like the link below:

 

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To clarify, if just walking in public, my dog walks in front of me. This is to keep it clear to him that focused heeling is always on the left.
 

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I really paid attention to this last night. Every command i gave Karma she was always looking up at me. We were in the kitchen and Tiny Human came crawling in, so i got Karma to lay down to have her interact with TH. Even then Karma never looked away from me until TH tried crawling on top of her. Then she looked at TH, and then back at me as if saying "can you get this thing off me?!" TH is still learning puppies are there for FAR more than feeding from the high chair, and getting open mouth kisses lol.. But i'm VERY pleased how well Karma interacts with her
 

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I didn’t have to train that. In fact, I’d like to train a “not look at me” command...lol. When I wake up...he’s stares at me, when I shift on the couch...he stares at me, when I watch TV...he stares at me, when I go outside...he stares at me, when we play...he stares at me, when I’m in the bathroom...he stares at me, when I take a shower...he licks my leg and stares at me. 😂

He has INCREDIBLE focus on me at all times. He craves engagement. I just say half his name, and his head whips around so fast.
 

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I have trained the look command with Max as a pup. It was used to train with distractions. I found later the leave it command worked a lot better then a look command in regards to other dogs out on walks or heavily traffic places like dog class when On the move using only treats. When engaged using a ball as a reward we had a about 20 horses galloping past us without using any look command or a beach filled with many dogs. Max just has that inate focus and when engaged it is naturally maximized. you see any photo I take he has that really beautiful natural and great focus and that is all him. I think it may be his higher prey drive with his love for the ball as a reward that has that more dee per focus. I’m not sure but he is the most engaged dog I ever owned. Here is a photo of max and lunas natural focus of me walking into the room just not saying a word and snapping a photo- such nice natural focus. The second photo is just me calling their name. Same focus with verbal or non verbal.
 

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