Improve Your Dog's Manners By Teaching These Three Behaviors

Make Eye Contact

In a dog’s world, direct, prolonged eye contact can often be perceived as a threat or challenge. For this reason, many dogs are fearful of direct eye contact from people. But because eye contact is a normal part of human interactions, it is something your dog is likely to encounter. Teaching your dog to make eye contact and treating it as something positive that leads to rewards and praise can help to build your dog’s self confidence and may help reduce anxiety or stress associated with human interactions.

Making eye contact can be helpful when you need to have your dog’s attention in order to distract him from behaviors you would like to see less of. Rather than simply yelling at him to stop barking, you can ask for eye contact and then follow up by offering a reward or asking for another, more desirable behavior like a down stay.

Tolerate Touch

Teaching your dog to tolerate and respond to touch offers one more way to get your dog’s attention when he is exhibiting behavior you would rather not see. Touch can be used to redirect your dog when he engages in unwanted behavior; training him to allow you to touch or gently hold his collar can be useful for situations where you need to get his attention in order to ask for an acceptable behavior.

Training him to accept being touched by unfamiliar objects can also be helpful in minimizing certain fears and eliminating the related behavior. If your dog hides when it’s time to trim his nails, try introducing the clippers by simply touching them to his paw and rewarding him for calm behavior.

Every canine is unique in the behaviors they’ll benefit from the most, but for the majority of canines, these three behaviors can be used to create a framework upon which to build better manners. And no matter how old your dog is, it typically doesn’t take a lot of effort to teach these behaviors — particularly once you commit to making them part of your everyday interactions with your dog.

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