Learn how to train a puppy to sit up and pay attention. If your puppy doesn’t listen to a word you say, don’t despair. If you follow this advice, it won’t be long before you discover that when you speak, your puppy listens!
If you can train a puppy to hang on to your every word, your life will be a lot easier! I strongly recommend you get this puppy exercise under your belt first before doing any other puppy training.
Training a puppy to 'Watch Me' on cue - it's magic!
Once you’ve taught your pup to pay attention to you, ignoring everything else around him (including next door’s cat!), it will help to make all other training so much easier.
You will have your puppy's full attention before starting another exercise.
At least, that’s the plan!
To train a puppy, you and your family must be consistent in your approach to training your puppy.
So, before you begin teaching your Cocker puppy to listen to you, you must decide which words you would like to use for this request.
I use 'Watch Me', but you can choose whatever you like, for example, 'Listen' or ‘Listen to Me’, whatever floats your boat!
Once you have chosen a word or a phrase to get your puppy’s attention (your verbal instruction), you and other family members must use the same phrase otherwise the training will not work.
It will only serve to confuse your puppy and you will be setting your dog up to fail!
If your puppy doesn't look at you, or if he looks at you but won't hold your gaze, take one of the treats between your finger and thumb (so that it can be seen) and raise it up to your eye level and hold it there.
Once the treat has your puppy’s attention, he will probably follow it up to your eyes.
He will now be looking up at the treat, and by default, he will be paying attention to you.
Don’t forget to praise your puppy, using the words you chose for this instruction, for reinforcement. It won't be long before your puppy begins to associate the two.
Practice this regularly, and once you feel your dog is getting the hang of it and is following your hand up to your eye each time, you can remove the lure of the treat and use your non-verbal hand signal instead.
Continue practising the above exercise, increasing the time you can hold your puppy's attention.
Add a few seconds each time, gradually working up to 60 seconds or more.
Remove the use of the puppy treat from the exercise as soon as you feel it is practical to do so. The aim is to reward your puppy for paying attention to you and not to the treat.
My Cocker Spaniel is 14 now, and I still use this 'Watch Me' instruction regularly. For example, I use this request before I feed my dog, let him into the garden, and before I put him on the lead.
If someone rings the doorbell, I use this instruction as a distraction. When Max looks at me, I ask him to sit and stay while I answer the door. When I've greeted my visitor, I give Max his release word which lets him know that he's now free to greet our visitor.
It's all good practice and reinforcement of his training.
I recommend you use the ‘Watch Me’ instruction before giving your dog any other instruction.
If you do, your Cocker Spaniel is more likely to respond well to your next request because he is already giving you his full attention.
Now that's a result, don’t you think?