by Catherine Zinsky
"Wait-Watchers" is NOT the same as "Weight-Watchers". They have nothing in common. The "Wait-watcher's" Game is an attention game I play with young dogs to teach them precisely what I mean when I say 'watch'. It starts small and grows big--but in small increments. Having a sound foundation is more important than rushing the learning curve!
Teaching 'Wait-Watchers' goes like this:
1. Have your dog on a six foot leash and sitting.
2. Tell your dog to stay and go out to the end of the leash.
3. Turn and face your dog.
4. While initially talking quietly to your dog the entire time so as to keep him engaged and while still facing your dog, slowly arc to the right and then to the left, keeping your dog's attention the entire time.
5. Apply some light tension to the leash to a) reinforce the sit 'stay' and b) help keep your dog's focus.
6. Include the word 'watch' or 'look' in your discussion with your dog as you slowly move left and right. This ultimately puts the word to the skill!
7. Be sure to make eye contact the entire time you are talking and moving.
8. Keep it SHORT at first. Don't overdue and suddenly have no dog. Train through success and build understanding and clarity through each small success. Be patient.
9. Release your dog TOWARDS you with a toy or treat! Have the dog want to watch!!! Build his anticipation and eagerness. (I often use the 1-2-3 Game [see September 2018 Front & Finish issue] to release my dog!)
10. Once released and rewarded, engage with your dog! Build 'want-to'.
Obviously as my dog grasps this game, I switch to a retractable lead and progressively build distance while gradually weaning my dog from verbal stimuli. Again, this is not an overnight miracle. It's done over period of time and distance is only gained through the successes my dog achieves along the way.
This is an easy, yet enjoyable way to teach your dog what 'watch' means.