How to Train Your Dog to Focus on You

Training your pup to focus on you can be the difference between a dog that runs away, and one that comes when called. In fact, teaching your dog to look at you (and keep looking at you) is one of the most important things you can do as an owner. It’s not always easy to teach our dogs to focus on us, especially with so many distractions around. But it is possible! Here are 7 tips that will help you train your dog to “look” when called—even in the face of temptation.

Start with basic training.

The first step to training your dog to focus on you is basic obedience. To make it easy, start by introducing yourself and then teach your dog the following commands:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Lie down with paws up (optional)
  • Shake hands

If your dog doesn’t know sit, start there.

If your dog doesn’t know sit, start there.

Give the dog a treat and then wait for them to sit before giving it to them.

When they do, say “sit” and give them a click or a treat (or both) as soon as their bottom hits the ground. Repeat this process until your dog is anticipating that sitting down will bring about something positive for them—like getting fed treats! If you have trouble getting your pup to stay still while waiting, try using a lure or target stick with some tasty treats on it so that they focus on what they’re supposed to do instead of moving around too much.

Reward them for looking at you.

Once your dog has learned to look at you, it is important to reward them for doing so. This is not the same as rewarding them for sitting. When a dog looks at you, they are showing that they are paying attention and ready to learn. Instead of rewarding them with treats or toys, which may be too stimulating for the dog, use praise and affection instead. If you have multiple dogs who need training in this area, praise each one individually so that no one becomes jealous or upset by having less attention from you than their siblings.

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Reward your dog immediately after they make eye contact with you so that they know what behavior will get rewarded consistently.

Practice holding eye contact with your dog from a distance.

It’s important to practice this exercise in a quiet place where your dog can focus on you. It might also be helpful to start with a toy, and then gradually replace it with treats. This will allow him to transition from focusing on something else (the toy) toward focusing on you.

The idea is that he learns that when he hears the word “focus,” there will be some kind of reward associated with it—whether it’s food or petting or safety. You should practice holding eye contact for only short periods at first, as long as both of you are enjoying yourselves! If your dog seems stressed out by the exercise, just play with him again until he has calmed down and then try again later in the day or next week if need be!

Create distance between you and distractions.

You’ll want to create distance between your dog and distractions. This can be accomplished by using a leash, tether, or crate. You can also use a baby gate to separate the dog from you and the distraction.

  • Leash: A leash allows your dog to stay close while also preventing it from wandering away on its own. If your dog is leashed and given enough room to move around in, he will likely look at you more often as he becomes aware of his surroundings thanks to the freedom that comes with not being blocked by a barrier such as a baby gate or tether point (more on those later).
  • Tether: A tether is basically just an extension cord that attaches from one end of your house all the way through another exit door on its other side; essentially creating two separate rooms within one house where neither has access into another area without going through an open doorway first which requires them looking up at whoever owns those keys (which should be YOU!). As mentioned earlier about leashing dogs during training sessions: if they’re tethered instead then they’re forced into focusing on YOU because there’s nowhere else for their attention go except back towards YOU!
  • Crate: Using crates will allow you some control over where exactly each session takes place since most owners have only one crate available in which all three methods listed above could potentially work depending upon how big or small they are.”
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Tether-free training.

Tether-free training is a way to train your dog to focus on you even with distractions around. You can use a leash or a long line (a more advanced version of the leash) to train tether-free. In order for this method to be successful, it’s important that you have some sort of control over the dog: either through one of these two methods or by having him wear a prong collar and harness.

You need to start teaching your dog what “look at me” means by pairing it with something he wants like treats or affection from another person in the household. The first step is getting his attention by saying “look at me.” Once he looks at you, reward him with any special rewards like treats or praise from another family member so that he realizes there is something good waiting for him when he looks at you instead of looking toward whatever else may be distracting him such as other people walking past outside windows or dogs barking down the street.

Incorporate “look” into daily life.

When you’re in the kitchen, work space, or another location where you typically spend time with your dog, make it a point to use “look” at least once during the day. This can be as simple as saying “look” and waiting for him to focus on you before giving him a reward. If there’s something going on outside that might distract him from focusing on you (such as a bird flying by), wait until he looks back at you before rewarding him so that he associates looking at things outside with getting his reward.

Practice “look” in new places.

Once your dog has learned how to look at you, it’s time to practice in new environments. This will help your dog learn that “look” means paying attention and focusing on you no matter where you are or what you’re doing in the room.

  • Start by practicing in different rooms of your home with the same training treats or toys that you used for the initial “look” training.
  • Next, practice in different positions like sitting down or standing up straight with one hand outstretched so that he can see the treat clearly when he looks at it while standing up straight with both arms crossed (when sitting down).3. Finally, practice asking him to “look” while he is moving around or performing another task such as getting ready for bedtime:
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You can train your dog to focus on you, even with distractions around!

You may have noticed that your dog has a tendency to focus on other things, like other people or animals. And while this is something that’s normal and usually not problematic, it can still be frustrating when you’re trying to get them to pay attention to you.

But don’t worry! You can train your dog how to focus on you even in the face of distractions. Here are some tips for training your pooch:

  • Be patient – Dogs learn through repetition, so the more they practice focusing on you during certain times of day (and certain activities), the easier it will become for them later on. It’s best if this training happens over time instead of all at once; otherwise it might overwhelm them too much!
  • Have fun – If possible, try pairing learning exercises with fun activities such as playing games or going for walks outside together!


Focusing on “look” is a great bonding activity for you and your dog, and it’s a trick that will take you places. If you can master this skill in the home, you’ll be able to maintain it in less familiar environments, like dog parks or public streets (we would never recommend off-leash walks unless your dog is fully trained). So train away!