Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look
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Thread: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

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    Senior Member Amaryllis's Avatar
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    Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    I've been trying "look at that!" with Kabota to get him over trying chase every other living thing we encounter on walks (other than dogs and people). The basic idea is to point to the thing, like a cat, say "look at that" and when he looks, give him a treat, so he eventually associates cats with treats and being calm.

    The problem is, Kabota doesn't seem to understand pointing. His previous 3 or 4 years of life was really deprived (as in, stuck in a crate 24/7) so he missed out on a lot of interactions with people, and I think it really shows here. I point and say "look at that" and he looks at me because I'm talking. Then he'll discover the cat on his own, and BAM! predator mode engaged. It doesn't help that the natural reaction of feral cats and rabbits is to take off running as soon as they notice the dog going bonkers.

    I've tried pointing inside, at treats left in odd spots, but he either looks at me if I speak, or looks at my hand if I don't. He does not look in the direction my hand is pointing. Is there another way to teach pointing or "look at that"?
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    Senior Member Pawzk9's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Like any other cue your dog doesn't know - it makes no sense to tell him to do it if he doesn't know what it means (then you have to try to figure out a way to get the behavior.) If the dog is interested or concerned with something, he's going to look at it. THEN you can say "look at that" followed by a quick click and a treat. Key is being far enough away that the dog is still under threshold and clicking soon enough and often enough to interrupt the sequence that would generally follow.

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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    I'm interested in this thread, as we are trying this with Harper, too. I am having the same problem; he looks as me when I talk! I am saying "see that" (instead of "look at that, since we already have a look command, which means look at us). My understanding was to get him to look at lots of random things, to load it, so to speak. I also remember someone on another thread saying that dogs are really good at following your gaze. So, I have tried without pointing and with pointing. It doesn't seem to matter, the minute I speak, they look at me.

    BUT, like Pawzk9 said, if there is something interesting, he does look (like another dog or person), but he looks on his own, without me saying anything. Then, I've been doing like Pawzk9 said, saying "see that" after he's already looked on his own.
    It's working ok, if we're under threshold, but I'd still like to be able to say see that, and not have him look at me first, for other random things.

    He's a mini dachshund, so sometimes I have a hard coordinating ME looking at something, and knowing if he's looking at the same thing.....is that dumb?

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    Senior Member Pawzk9's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Quote Originally Posted by doxiemommy View Post
    I'm interested in this thread, as we are trying this with Harper, too. I am having the same problem; he looks as me when I talk! I am saying "see that" (instead of "look at that, since we already have a look command, which means look at us). My understanding was to get him to look at lots of random things, to load it, so to speak. I also remember someone on another thread saying that dogs are really good at following your gaze. So, I have tried without pointing and with pointing. It doesn't seem to matter, the minute I speak, they look at me.

    BUT, like Pawzk9 said, if there is something interesting, he does look (like another dog or person), but he looks on his own, without me saying anything. Then, I've been doing like Pawzk9 said, saying "see that" after he's already looked on his own.
    It's working ok, if we're under threshold, but I'd still like to be able to say see that, and not have him look at me first, for other random things.

    He's a mini dachshund, so sometimes I have a hard coordinating ME looking at something, and knowing if he's looking at the same thing.....is that dumb?
    You WANT the dog to redirect his attention to you! That's the whole purpose of the game. The click will make him look back for the treat, but if he looks at you when you talk to him, all the better. What you DON'T want is him being able to stare at something until he feels the need to do something about it (which can be pretty quick)

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    Senior Member sassafras's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Yea agreed, just wait for him to look at it himself then cue, mark, and treat. Eventually, your dog may learn to look back to you so quickly after alerting on something else that you don't even have time to cue, mark, or treat. That's ok, too, I'll mark and treat the choice to look at me when that happens. Also, when your dog really "gets" the game, he may not fully direct his attention to whatever "that" is - may just shift his eyes real quick towards it and back to you, or even just flick an ear. I mark and treat that kind of stuff, too.
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    Senior Member Amaryllis's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    No, that's not dumb. It's bit hard for me to tell what Kabota's seeing, because he's at knee level to me, and I sometimes can't see what he's seeing from my angle. So I miss the bunny or cat until he goes nuts over it.

    I've actually be using "see", because "look at me" means, well, look at my face, which I can use to short circuit some behavior by distracting him to looking at me. That doesn't work unless I see the animal first. Plus, he's tweaky about looking at human faces at all, which I'm trying to cure him of.

    I can try clicking when he looks at things and adding "see", but how do I bridge the gap to looking at what I want him to look at, when he just doesn't get pointing at all? I want him to see the cat from far away and encourage calm behavior, but so far, all I can do is get him to look at me. Which he is, admittedly, pretty good at now.
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    Senior Member Pawzk9's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Quote Originally Posted by sassafras View Post
    Yea agreed, just wait for him to look at it himself then cue, mark, and treat. Eventually, your dog may learn to look back to you so quickly after alerting on something else that you don't even have time to cue, mark, or treat. That's ok, too, I'll mark and treat the choice to look at me when that happens. Also, when your dog really "gets" the game, he may not fully direct his attention to whatever "that" is - may just shift his eyes real quick towards it and back to you, or even just flick an ear. I mark and treat that kind of stuff, too.
    Exactly. I love when the dog starts glancing at stuff and then back at his owner to make sure they noticed. The whole idea is to change a situation from something that is scary or concerning to a game to be played with your person.

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    Senior Member Pawzk9's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Quote Originally Posted by Amaryllis View Post
    I can try clicking when he looks at things and adding "see", but how do I bridge the gap to looking at what I want him to look at, when he just doesn't get pointing at all? I want him to see the cat from far away and encourage calm behavior, but so far, all I can do is get him to look at me. Which he is, admittedly, pretty good at now.
    Let him decide what he needs to look at. Add the cue, then the click and treat.

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    Senior Member katielou's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Yeah my whole understand was that you wait for the dog to look at the trigger and the click and treat. Its not suppose to turn into a command it suppose to be a game.

    I've been playing it with Abe for a long time and have never bothered with a cue because i want him to alert my to anything that he find a worry by looking at it then back at me to start the game.

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    Senior Member Amaryllis's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Okay, so the trouble is going to be trying to figure out when he's looking prior to reacting. A lot of the time, from my point of view, 4.5 feet above his line of sight, we're perfectly normal, then he's going bonkers over a cat. He just loves outside, so the whole time is ears all the way forward, tail up, really interested in everything. Well, dog training is always more about the human than the dog.

    Really, I wouldn't even care about him reacting to cats and rabbits (and birds and squirrels), but the skunks are starting to come out and I do not want him going berserk at a skunk. We need to be able to just walk by a skunk without him provoking an incident that ends with me unable to go inside my own house because I smell so bad.
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    Senior Member katielou's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    I started just sitting in the park with Abe so that i could learn even his smallest signals that he could smell something a mile away

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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Ok, my problem has been that I have been trying to tell him what to look at by looking at it myself, and saying "see that", EXCEPT that he doesn't follow my gaze, and turns to look at me as soon as I speak, so he's not really looking at it to begin with.

    So, what you all are saying is that I should not worry about saying anything at this point, I should let him look at something on his own, and alert, THEN say (cue) "see that" and click and treat. Is that right? Am I marking (click) when he is looking at the thing or looking back at me?


    How do I get him to look at random things eventually, for a game? Or does that not really matter? He doesn't seem to get the pointing, and I can't be sure that he's looking at what I am looking at.....

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    Senior Member Finkie_Mom's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Yeah, I don't even have a cue for it. It's up to the dog to look at whatever might be interesting to them and then back at me (eventually). If I notice it before they do, I can treat them (like if I notice a squirrel before they see it I get a treat ready to shove in their face after they see it and don't react), but if not, no biggie once it's "learned." I'm all about "less is more" when it comes to naming things

    I personally don't care what they look at. If I see someone coming up walking a dog but they see a squirrel instead, as long as they don't bark/react to whatever-it-is, they get a treat.


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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    I hope you don't mind my jumping in here.

    "Look at That" is a game , not a command. The situation is a dog that is very reactive to something (another dog, a cat, whatever). Instead of reacting to it, we want to scale back the behavior. So we play "Look at That" . The emphasis is on the looking, not on the 'that'. The dog is already reacting to whatever 'that' is. The goal is the dog waiting quietly - preferably in a sit - while looking at the target. And, eventually, looking back at you - but we'll shape that part later.

    There are times when we do want the dog to be actually staring at a specific target and waiting for you to give a command. But in that case, the target isn't some random thing or whatever he happens to pick out as being interesting, but a very specific target that you choose. This is actually pretty advanced training and I wouldn't try it on a dog that didn't have quite a bit of training already.

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    Senior Member sassafras's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    That's a good way to explain it, I have trouble articulating some of this stuff sometimes.

    I think about it like this... Basically, I want my dogs to know that they are allowed to "check out" things but I don't want them to practice being reactive to those things. Instead, I want them to practice staying calm and looking to me for what to do next, so that is what I reward. Honestly, I think I usually say something along the lines of "What is THAT doggie doing? What are those kids doing over there? Hey there's a guy walking down the street!" than actually saying "look at that" when I notice my dog(s) alerting to something. I think the fact that you say anything at all probably refocuses them on you and gives you the opportunity to mark and reward calm behavior and reorienting to you.

    In Control Unleashed, there's an analogy I like that goes something like... if you were walking through the woods at night with a friend who was leading the way and you heard some creepy noises around you but your friend INSISTED that you only look at them the whole time instead of being able to look around, it would probably make you even MORE anxious about the noises. That doesn't mean it would be a good thing for you to go racing around off the path every time you heard a noise, but you would probably feel better if you could at least look.
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Patricia McConnell calls this the "Auto-Watch" On walks I rewarded all eye contact. So whenever the dog swiveled her head up to look at me I'd click and treat. Now I reward with voice on random intervals and occasionally treat for eye contact. From that I started on Auto Watch or Look At That. I started it because she was reactive to all dogs that were walked up to us on the street. And reactive to the dogs loose in their yards that would charge us. So I'd wait for her to look at me (keeping her sub threshold) and click and treat. That over time turned into an autowatch. It really helped to practice on KNOWN things. ie a Yard I knew had a dog in it, sitting in the parking lot to the vets office. In other words controlled situations where I knew the dog would react and I knew where to keep her sub threshold. Before she went berserk.

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    Senior Member Pawzk9's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Quote Originally Posted by NRB View Post
    Patricia McConnell calls this the "Auto-Watch" On walks I rewarded all eye contact. So whenever the dog swiveled her head up to look at me I'd click and treat. Now I reward with voice on random intervals and occasionally treat for eye contact. From that I started on Auto Watch or Look At That. I started it because she was reactive to all dogs that were walked up to us on the street. And reactive to the dogs loose in their yards that would charge us. So I'd wait for her to look at me (keeping her sub threshold) and click and treat. That over time turned into an autowatch. It really helped to practice on KNOWN things. ie a Yard I knew had a dog in it, sitting in the parking lot to the vets office. In other words controlled situations where I knew the dog would react and I knew where to keep her sub threshold. Before she went berserk.
    LAT is subtly different from an Auto Watch

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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    Quote Originally Posted by Pawzk9 View Post
    LAT is subtly different from an Auto Watch

    OOo didn't know that. can you explain how they are different? I thought both were same in that they redirected the dogs focus on the thing that triggers him to you. Thus deflating the issue......

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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    I agree with other posters, don't worry about putting the behavior on cue. What you want is for the dog to alert and then choose to orient back to you.
    I have 3 suggestions.
    #1 Management: work on your positive interruptor and start watching your pup's body language really closely. Try to catch Kubota on the freeze before the OMG _________. That way, even if you miss the object of awesome, you have a chance to stop the behavior chain from reinforcing itself and still reward the behavior you want (looking at you) even if you have to ask for it.
    #2 Work even lower threshold: Do you have a friends who would be willing to drag a flirt several feet behind them? I've known a lot of high-drive dogs to key into a plastic bag or scrap of fabric that's moving. This will give you a control over the target and make your job a whole lot easier.
    #3 In the long term: one thing that has worked really well for our high-drive dog is to fight prey drive with prey drive, or rather, use controlled and conditioned prey drive to substitute natural prey drive. Conditioning 'tug' or 'fetch' or using a flirt pole as a reward for coming off prey has worked really well for us. Obviously, this doesn't help you for the LAT exercise (you want to teach calm) but I think it might be a good place to go when your dog's impulse control is a bit better.
    Hope this is useful

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    Senior Member Greater Swiss's Avatar
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    Re: Trying "Look at That!" but he won't look

    I don't know if this helps any, but I've found looking at Caeda then looking back at what I want her to see helps. I've been teaching her to keep her raw bones on her mat, and a lot of the time pointing at the mat and saying "mat" isn't cutting it. I just clear my throat now to get her attention if she goes off the mat (sometimes she doesn't realize she's slipped off the edge) and she looks at me, so I look at her, look at the mat, back at her, back at the mat multiple times. Now without fail (and without a command) if I get her attention and do the looking thing she gets back to it, and I just praised when she did what I wanted (even if in other circumstances it was just looking at something like the cat, whose name I'm trying to teach Caeda).

    Some people say that doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, I call it training my dog

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