Teaching “watch” command

Overview

The “watch” command helps keep your dog focused on you during training, but it’s useful for regular life too. For instance, if you’re on a walk and cross paths with another dog who wants to pick a fight, the “watch” command can help keep your dog’s attention on you and prevent a scuffle.

Steps to teaching “watch”

  • Find a quiet spot free of distractions.
  • Call your pup’s name to get his attention.
  • Say, “Watch” and briefly waggle a food lure in front of his nose. Then raise the treat up to, and behind, your head.
  • Your dog’s eyes should cross your face as they follow the treat. The moment they do, say “Yes!” and reward him with a food treat.
  • Wait until your pup’s moved on to something else, then try again. Repeat several times.
  • Gradually make it more challenging by adding, one at a time, the three D’s: duration, distance, and distraction. First, duration: each time your pooch obeys the command, on the next try add one second to the delay between catching your pup’s eyes and delivering the reward. Then, distance: stand one step further away from your dog each time you give the command. Finally, add in distractions, such as a bouncing ball or another dog in the area.
  • Go slowly when adding challenges, and if your dog ever goofs, go back a step until he’s getting it right again.

DogTime tip: Once your dog’s caught on, put your hand with the treat in it out to the side when you tell him ‘Watch.’ When he glances at you, tell him “Yes!” right away and quickly deliver the treat. This helps get the message across that you want him to watch your face, not the treat.

Troubleshooting

If your puppy won’t leave your side after the first try: Your treats may be too visible. Put them in your pocket or high on a table or shelf. Or, toss a piece of kibble so he has to leave your side to get it.
If your puppy quickly looks away: This is normal with young pups, but you may be able to hold his gaze longer if you train in a less distracting environment, like a bathroom.