Training your German Shepherd to focus on you when you call him regardless of what he is doing is important as it definitely facilitates more effective dog or puppy training sessions. Imagine if you were in a class, but you can’t seem to focus on the ongoing lecture, and instead, you get easily distracted by anything and everything around you – your phone, your classmates, the outside weather and so on. Wouldn’t that be an unproductive session as well as a waste of time? Similarly, to allow German Shepherd training to take place, your dog needs to have all his focus and attention on you during these sessions to make the time spent on dog training worthwhile.
Remember, German Shepherds learn by associating any of his own actions or behaviors to its consequences. A German Shepherd will always look to please and cooperate with his dog owner such that he can continue to experience positive consequences. With this concept in mind, one of the best ways to train your dog in terms of attention is by alerting your dog with a distinct sound such as a whistling sound and then right after, do something that your dog will enjoy doing.
One of the activities that many dog owners employ is treasure hunting. Dog owners start by making the distinct sound (i.e. whistling), jumping up and finding a dog toy. After several iterations of this and after making the distinct sound, observe what your German Shepherd does. Your dog will most probably be looking at you; wagging his tail! He’s probably excited to see what you do after you have made that sound; will you go treasure hunting again?
Once he looks at you, use some positive markers such as “Good boy!” as means to reinforce and help your dog re-ensure that his action (giving you his attention when you whistle) is indeed favorable. After that, go hunting to find your dog’s toy. You should again do this several times so that your German Shepherd gets a hang of things and after awhile, you’ll notice that whenever you whistle, your dog will give you his full attention to you because he knows that by doing that, he will probably end up playing one of his most favorite games, treasure hunt! Aside from training for your dog’s attention, there are many other things you can do with treasure hunt, which we’ll explore in upcoming posts!
A couple of things to note though. Whenever you call your dog’s name, the main thing to focus on is making eye contact with your German Shepherd. In other words, when you call your dog’s name, your goals should be to make eye contact with him rather than have your dog come to you. This is because once you’ve trained your dog the command “stay,” it can be confusing for your dog whether or not to stay or to come to you when you call his name followed by a “stay” command. Another thing is not to gain your dog’s attention through reward. Rather, first, get his attention, and then reward him only for treasure hunting. That way, your dog will be able to associate that there are two things that he needs to do in order to get his reward; first, he needs to pay attention to you when you whistle, and second, look for the “treasure.”
German Shepherd training does require a significant amount of time and patience, but the benefits of training your dog is limitless! Don’t give up!