How to Get Puppies to Listen

Like human babies, puppies have short attention spans and are easily distracted. Help your puppy focus and listen to your commands by training them to build eye contact with you first. In this video, Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels will teach you how.

Building Eye Contact The Wildrose Way : Video Transcript

Mike Stewart: The eyes are the gateways to your puppy's mind. If you can own the eyes, you can hold their focus. If you can hold their focus, you can get their attention. If you get their attention, then you can train them and you could communicate. Canine communication requires eye contact. Let's walk through a couple of steps on how we hold the puppy's eyes.

A couple of drills that you can do.

The first thing we did was elevate the puppy off the ground where I can hold his attention. I've got a treat in my pocket and he knows it. I'm going to bring the treat from my eyes. The first step, let him see your eyes. You hold the puppy's attention just briefly. Watch. Good. Now I'm going to redirect his eyes. I'm going to push my hand out. He's going to look at that treat. And when he looks at the treat and looks back, I'm going to give him the treat. Only when he looks back at me. I'm going to hold his attention until I own the eyes.

So let's give it a try, coming from the eyes. Good. And your mark it with a good. He gets the treat when he gives me the eyes back. He gets the reward. Very quickly, through repetition and consistency, he's going to realize this is the only way he gets the reward. And he's going to follow my hands only briefly, and then jut back to the eyes.

Later on, we can take food in our bowl and we can set some food out, a bit of kibble. And then set him on the ground. Tell him to sit. We get patience in all things. The road to patience is repetition and consistency and not giving the puppy a reward, food, affection, a retrieve, attention when he's misbehaving, jumping barking, trying to gain your attention. Put the feed down and we wait. Good. And he can have the food.

You can put this on the ground. You can teach hand signals even by putting the food down and casting the puppy to it. He only gets the food, which is a primary motivator, when he gives me what I want, which is eye contact. Through consistency and repetition, you can build great eye contact. When you're building great eye contact, you're training your pup in communicating. Begin early, practice it frequently, and always reward the best behaviors.