Q: Is there any way you can improve a dog's eye contact. My Labrador tends to look here there and everywhere - but not at me - when he stops to the whistle.
I'm beginning to think I have gone wrong somewhere in his training, but I don't know where. I would appreciate your advice.
A: Eye contact is a very special thing between handler and dog which is developed in the early training process, and more particularly the way you are training it.
Some dogs are just naturals at establishing trust with eye contact but others you have to work on; talking to the dog as you walk along is one way of doing it. And another is to praise the dog the moment it looks at you, coupled with a hand command making it sit.
Another great opportunity for making eye contact and getting the dog to focus on what you’re doing comes when you introduce it to whistle commands. Similarly, when dummy retrieving it pays to throw one but always keep hold of another – the dog soon learns to look back to see what you are going to do with it.
Some people just don’t seem able to build a very good bond with their dogs. And without it, why should you expect dog to look at its owner anyway?