The key to the look command is to condition your dog to look away from the distraction to your face if only for an instant. This turning away breaks your dog’s attention from the distraction and can be used in a variety of circumstances including but not limited to on-leash agitation or aggression. With practice, your dog will automatically begin to visually check in with you when he sees something coming down the street that previously got a reaction.
1. Attention from your dog will create self-restraint, calm behavior, love for the word YES and of course, attention.
2. Put a treat right in front of his nose. When he looks at it, move the treat to your eye and then say “LOOK”. When he makes eye contact, YES and treat. Wait until he looks away before starting again.
3. Extend the length of time he must look at you from just a moment, to two seconds. When he gets reliable at two seconds, graduate to three seconds.
4. Long “LOOKS” are not important. Looking at you quickly is. So, whenever he gives you a particularly fast response, immediately YES and give him several additional treats as a ‘jackpot’ reward. This will distinguish fast responses from long looks, and he will prefer the more rewarding ‘fast’ behavior.
5. Now, lets begin to phase out the dependence on having food in your hand. Pretend to have a treat in your hand and do the same thing you have been doing as per the above. When he gives you a fast or long “LOOK”, mark the behavior by saying YES then show him that your hand is empty, wait a moment, then pull a jackpot of treats out of your treat pouch and give them to him with your other hand.
6. As your dog gives you a reliable “LOOK” you can slowly wane off treats offering a reward every other time, every third time, every fourth etc.