Training Tip Tuesday – Reactivity


By: Kelly Erick

The Volunteer Trainers at Ruff Start Rescue have started a new initiative to post a quick and easy tip every Tuesday! Look for a new tip every Tuesday or use the hashtag #TrainingTipTuesday on social media to find them all!
I’ll be posting about reactiveness over the next few weeks. I sadly lost my reactive dog, Nova Jean this past December but she taught me so much in the 8 years she was with me! This “look at me” or “watch me” command was such a great tool to get a reactive dog to focus on you verse whatever their trigger may be.
Managing Reactivity
The easiest way to teach a “Watch Me” cue is to lure the behavior from your dog. If you make it obvious where you want your dog to look, it won’t take long for them to catch on. Start these exercises in a quiet environment so you’re easily the most interesting thing in the room. Ther following steps will help you lure your dog’s eye contact:
  1.  Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose.
  2.  Slowly bring the treat up between your eyes. Your dog should watch the treat and be staring at your forehead.
  3.  Mark your dog’s behavior with a clicker, marker word like “Yes”, or praise, then give your dog the treat.
  4.  Repeat the above steps but reward your dog with a treat from your other hand instead.
  5.  Repeat steps 1 – 3 with an empty hand, but still rewarding your dog with a treat when they make eye contact. It can help if your fingers smell like their treat. You’ve now taught a hand signal for “Watch me”,
  6.  When your dog is reliably following the hand signal, start saying your verbal cue like “Watch me” or “Look” before you move your hand.
Blog and graphic by Kelly Erick, one of Ruff Start Rescue’s volunteer trainers, who focus on supporting our fosters and helping create successful dogs.