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Teaching your dog to make eye contact with you is a great way to get them to ignore distractions and focus on you. How can you teach them to do this?

To teach your dog to make eye contact, you will need to hold a treat up to your face until they make eye contact with you. Once they look you in the eye, you can reward them with the treat and praise. Practice this, then pair it with a command once they get the hang of it.

In this article, I will give you every step that you need to follow to train your dog to make eye contact with you. We will discuss the importance of teaching this command to your dog and the benefits of this command. This is a command that many people don’t teach to their dogs but would help them learn more commands and maintain obedience.

I have owned and loved for my entire life. I have found that teaching your dog to make eye contact with you is helpful for obedience and further training. I have researched the best way to teach this command to your dog, and I hope that I can communicate that information to you here.

Table of contents


How To Teach Your Dog To Make Eye Contact

Making eye contact with your dog is a great way to strengthen your bond together. Eye contact between the two of you will come naturally over time once your dog is more comfortable with you. However, it is also an important part of training. If your dog is still shy around you or doesn’t make eye contact with you often, you might want to teach them a command for making eye contact with you.

Once you teach this to your dog, the rest of your training will be much easier. You will be able to teach them new commands, they will walk politely on a leash, and they will have better recall.

Find Your Dog’s Preferred Motivator

Before starting this training, you will want to find your dog’s preferred motivator. This is what you will use to encourage your dog to look you in the eye, and what you will use to reward them when they make eye contact with you.

Most dogs are highly motivated by food. With some dogs, you can train them by just using some of their kibble as the motivator. Others will respond better to training if you use a treat to motivate them. Some dogs that are less motivated by food will require a high-value treat during training. This can be pieces of hot dog, deli meat, cheese, or anything else that you know your dog likes.

Whatever you choose as your motivator, make sure you have a good amount ready for your training session.

Hold the Motivator Up To Your Face and Reward When They Make Eye Contact

In this step, you will be encouraging your dog to make eye contact with you. While your dog is sitting, hold the motivator of your choice in front of your dog and bring it up to your face. Hold it there until your dog makes eye contact with you. When they do, give them the treat and lots of praise.

During this process, your dog should stay in a seated position. If your dog lacks impulse control, they may try to take the food while you are holding it near your face. Do not let them take the food this way. It must be a reward for good behavior, not something that they can take.

If your dog tries to take the treat from you, you can physically try to hold them back with your other hand. If this doesn’t work, you can have someone else hold them back with a leash.


Next, you will want to practice the previous step over and over until they make eye contact with you right away. You will know that you are ready to move on to the next step when your dog waits patiently for their treat without lunging at you to try and take it. You can move on when your dog sits and makes direct eye contact with you until you give them the treat.

Pair It With A Command

Finally, you should start giving a command while holding the treat up. You can say “look at me” or something similar for your command. Practice the same movement with the command over and over again. Eventually, you won’t need the treat anymore. You will be able to give your command and your dog will automatically look toward you.

Why You Need Eye Contact With Your Dog

Making eye contact with your dog is not just great for building a bond together. If you can teach your dog to look at you, then you will have an easier time training them, they will have better obedience, and you can get them out of situations if needed. They will also likely have much better recall, which is necessary for emergencies or if your dog gets away from you.

Tips For Teaching Your Dog to Make Eye Contact

The following are a few tips that we have collected for teaching your dog to make eye contact with you. Some dog breeds are highly intelligent and trainable, while others need more time and encouragement to learn commands. If you put in the work, you will be able to teach this command to any dog.

Have Patience

The first tip that we have is to be patient during training. Some dogs will understand right away what you are asking them to do. Others will need more time. It might take a long time for your dog to realize that you are wanting them to make eye contact. They might lunge for the treat or only look at the treat and not at you.

It can be frustrating when the task seems so simple to you. Have patience with your dog. Remember that they have no idea what you want them to do. Practice this command for a few minutes every day, and over time they will understand.

Try Passive Training

Our next tip is to try passive training in addition to your training sessions. This is great when your dog is taking a while to understand what you are asking. To do this, you will need to keep some treats with you while you are around the house with your dog.

In passive training, you reward your dog when they do the command, even outside of a training session. In this case, you will give your dog a treat any time they make eye contact with you, even if you aren’t training them. As you walk by, give your dog a treat if they make eye contact.

This shouldn’t be the only method that you use, as it will take an extremely long time to teach your dog a command this way. Rather, this is a great way to supplement your training sessions.

Practice With Distractions

Our final tip is to practice this command while you are around distractions. It is one thing for your dog to respond correctly to the command when you are alone in your home. It is another for them to do it while in a crowded street or at the dog park.

Start this process once your dog has a handle on the command in your normal training area. Start practicing the command in other areas of your home or your backyard. While on your normal walk, give your dog the command a few times. This will help them learn that they need to look at you when they hear the command no matter where you are.

Put your training to the ultimate test by giving your dog the command at the dog park or when you are in a crowded area. If they do it, then you will know that your dog fully knows and understands the command.