Teaching your dog to look at you is a simple but important command. It comes in handy when your dog either gets distracted or is focused heavily on a trigger like another dog in the distance. Often, before your dog starts with the barking at the other dog, you can get your dog to “look at me!” to divert his attention.
Start with a high-value treat (freeze-dried steak or liver, or hot dog, or cheese). Put the treat between your thumb and index finger, hold it in front of your dog’s nose to get their attention, then bring your hand up to your nose and say “look at me!”. Wait for your dog to actually get his eyes to focus on your face (or the treat), then say “yes!” and give her the treat. Rinse and repeat many times over the next 5 minutes and take a break. Then, start it up again. Repeat the above a few times a day, several days in a row and then move on to the next step.
The next step is to take your index finger and hold it in front of your dog’s nose. Then bring your finger up to your nose and say “look at me!”. Wait for your dog to focus on your face (or finger) and then say “yes!” and give him a treat from your other hand. It’s a good idea to have a treat pouch on your person for this command. Just like the first step, repeat this step a few times a day, 5 minutes at a time, and over several days before moving on.
The last step in the technique is to simply say “look at me!” without a treat or raising your finger to your nose. If you find you can’t get your dog to complete this last step, you may have to go back and use a treat or just use your finger. Repeat this last step 5 minutes per session, a few sessions per day, several days in a row and you should have a new command under your belt.