Struggle to maintain your dog’s attention? Try this behaviorists training tip that's great for relationship building

Labrador smiling with owner sat behind
(Image credit: Getty)

Maintaining your dog's attention is a pivotal aspect of owner-dog interaction. It's the bridge that leads to effective communication, better obedience, and a strengthened bond between you and your furry friend. A lack of focus could also be one of the main reasons why your dog’s recall isn’t reliable.

So, whether you want to conquer how to stop a dog from jumping up or how to teach your dog to heel, maintaining your pup’s attention is a must. But, we get it, in a world brimming with distractions, achieving and sustaining your dog's focus can often feel like an uphill battle. 

Thankfully, certified dog trainer and owner of Thinking Canine dog training services, Gia Savocchi, has a training tip up her sleeve that not only sharpens your dog's focus but also helps forge a deeper connection between you both.

She reveals all in an Instagram video which you can view below…

With an MSc in Clinical Animal Behavior from the University of Edinburgh and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) accreditation, Savocchi's words of wisdom on gaining focus are not to be missed.

"This is a level two focus game that we like to practice with our dogs," she begins, "You'll take a handful of treats, hold them out to the side and then when your dog looks at you, say 'yes' and reward them. We're holding the treats to the sides so the dog has to make a choice between looking at the treats or looking at the environment and looking at you."

When her dog Neon gets distracted she just waits her out. She also doesn't make any noises or try to get her to make eye contact with her because she believes that the dog can figure it out and do it on her own. 

"You want to get lots of repetitions in here and we're dropping the treat on the ground to teach the dog that they can move away from you for a reward and then go right back to giving eye contact."

Focus and eye contact games really help you to build up your relationship with your dog so they are looking to you for direction and not all over the place and the more repetitions you can get in the better. 

By holding the dog treats to the side and rewarding your dog when they choose to look at you instead of the treats or the environment, you're nurturing a mindful connection. Savocchi's strategy aligns with the belief in allowing dogs to independently make the choice to engage, cultivating a deeper sense of focus and trust.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.