The watch me exercise is a very useful command that teaches your Golden to ignore distractions and focus on you.
This will be particularly useful when you and your dog are out in public and he gets excited by children playing, dogs barking, or birds flying overhead.
Begin by having your dog sit in front of you. With the leash in your left hand, have a treat in your right hand. Let your dog smell the treat and then take it up to your chin as you tell him, “Spot, watch me!” When his eyes follow your hand to your face and he looks at you, praise him by saying, “Good boy to watch me!” Give him the treat and release him from the sit.
This is a particularly hard exercise for many young Goldens, so teach it first in the house with few distractions. Make sure your dog can do this well and understands it well before moving on to the next step.
When your dog is to the point that he watches you while you are in the house, then move outside where there are more distractions. If he knows the command but ignores you, take his chin in your left hand as you give the signal with your right hand. Help him to look at you. If he still struggles against you, use a verbal correction. When he looks back at you, praise him.
When your dog will watch you outside with a few distractions, you can move on to the next training step. Start with your dog sitting in front of you, give him the command “Watch me,” and then start walking backwards. Encourage him to follow you and watch you at the same time. After six steps or so, stop and have him sit, then praise him enthusiastically. After a few tries, back up a little farther, then add turns and zigzags.
Make it challenging and when he does watch you, make the praise worthwhile—tell him what a wonderful dog he is.
Please note: This article is from a contributor. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those of Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only.