The Importance Of The Eye Contact
Teaching your dog to pay attention to you is one of the most important parts of dog training. Eye contact is the first thing I teach a dog before moving on to more advanced commands. Without it, you will never experience high levels of reliability from your dog.
A dog can learn every command in the book, but if they are doing the commands without looking up at you, it is only a matter of time before something distracting pops up – like a bunny or a squirrel – and your dog decides to chase after it, completely ignoring your commands.
Teaching your dog to maintain eye contact will teach them to focus on you and pay attention to your body language. Dogs rarely use vocals as a form of communication; most interactions are through body language. If you watch a pack of wolves while hunting, you will notice that each wolf is watching the pack leader very carefully and following his lead. They carefully watch his eyes and body positioning, patiently waiting for him to give the signal for attack.
Taking control of your dog’s eyes is the way to conquer their brain. Your dog will be reliable once they can maintain eye contact as long as you want them to, even with substantial distraction. A dog that would rather pay attention to other distractions is not considering you and your instruction as important. A dog that breaks eye contact to pay attention to something else is a dog that will most likely make decisions of their own. This means that they have not yet accepted you as their leader.
Making eye contact with your dog is also one of the most significant dominance exercises you can use to assert your power. In the wild, alpha dogs often challenge pack members with eye contact to keep them under control.
Asking your dog to pay attention to you also creates a deeper bond between the two of you. Proper eye contact builds trust by asking your dog to accept your leadership and look up at your for directions.