“Look at That” teaches your dog to look at the trigger they would normally react to and then look back at you.

End goal: You say “Look at that” and your dog looks around the environment until they see their trigger. After seeing it, they look back at you and you reward them.

Why do we do it?

  • To teach your dog that their trigger is a cue to focus on you!
  • Promotes positive associations with their trigger. (Dog = cookie from mom or dad!)
  • If our dog can’t do it, we know their bubble might be about to pop and they need help!

Teaching “Look at That”

Part 1: Look at Neutral Object

  • Start with your dog indoors with low or no distractions.
  • Choose a neutral (not too exciting) object and place it where your dog can see it. (Or have a helper hold the object.)
  • Have your dog on leash. Stand far enough away from the object that your dog cannot touch it.
  • Say your dog’s name, then “Look at that”. (If they need a bit of help at first, your helper can move the object a bit or make a bit of noise with it.)
  • Wait for your dog to look at the object. The second they do, say “yes” (or click) and feed them a treat.
  • After a few repetitions, your dog should start looking at the object and then back to you.
  • Repeat until your dog is successful at looking at the object on cue and turning back to you for the treat.

Part 2: Use with Trigger(s) in Real Life

  • As soon as you see the trigger, come to a stop, cue “look at that” and wait for your dog to see them. (Ideally, you’ll see them first, but it’s okay if your dog does.) You can still say “Look at that”.
  • Mark (click or yes) and feed as soon as your dog sees them. Then, repeat.
  • Continue using “look at that”, as long as your dog can calmly watch the trigger.
  • As your dog relaxes, you can start to cue and feed less often. When they’re not looking at their trigger, you can stop playing.
  • If your dog is doing well, you can choose to move. Maybe you want to pass them or arc a little closer? Look for your dog to give you more frequent eye contact, to disengage with the dog/person and engage with the environment, and for their body to be loose (not tense). (Resist the temptation to always move closer! This can make the situation much more high pressure for your dog if they’re anticipating having to get closer every time.)

You’ll use this in combination with your other behavior tools. This tool is for use when your dog can calmly look at the trigger. If your dog begins to show signs of stress/arousal, switch to “Here”/”Come” or give them distance from the trigger.

Have questions? Email us for help!