Positive Dog Training: Look At Me Games


“Look at me” is our favorite training game!

So between Walter and Shermie, both reactive on leash, we play look at me games or “Auto-Focus Games”. There are a few games we play every day for a few minutes and this one they also play when we’re out in the neighborhood walking.

I need both of them to pay attention to me in highly distracting environments. Whether that’s an off leash dog down the street playing ball or a dog barking at us from their outdoor deck. It’s super easy to train and they both now offer this as a default behavior.

Inside, they will sit and look at me before they get fed or before any treats are handed out. Bruisy does this too but he’s older and wiser and generally easier to manage. He nailed this game a long time ago.

This isn’t just a game “I created” – I’m spelling out the step by step game as it was taught to me by our trainer at Synergy Behavior Solutions. These trainers (thank you Scott!) are my mentors and inspire Walter and I to work together every day on reactive leash management.

  1. Have treats on you or close to you but make sure they’re “hidden” and not in your hand.
  2. Your dog will try different ways to get to the treats but will fail and eventually offer you a look. Don’t say their name or make any noises just wait them out.
  3. When you see your dog’s eyes look at your face even for a quarter second, say your marker sound (we use yes) or use a clicker.
  4. Give them a treat.
  5. Move a couple feet away and repeat.

If your dog is having trouble then reward them for just looking in your direction. Try to wait for an offered face-look again – they’ll get the hang of it quickly! Enjoy!



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There are 7 Comments

  1. Kari says:

    Such an important game. It’s so rewarding when they whip their head to look at me before I’ve even asked for it.

  2. Jan K says:

    Great job! We love this game too – we call it “watch me”. When we’re out walking, if I make Luke stop for any reason, he will most times make eye contact with me while waiting for a treat.
    Cricket is pretty good as well, but I need to practice with her a little more consistently (she is leash reactive as well).

  3. Beth says:

    This sounds like something I should practice with Theo. He is challenging to walk, I’m never quite sure what is going to get a reaction from him.