Dear Critter Corner: With the warmer weather upon us, we have seen an increase in all sorts of outside critters like squirrels and birds which we love to watch.  Our dog also loves to watch these critters but will not give us the time of day once he is focused on them.  Do you have any tips on getting his attention back onto us in the presence of squirrels and birds?

Every dog has their kryptonite, it sounds like squirrels and birds are you pups!  Here is a tip to help get your dog to focus on you in the presence of all those great distractions.

I like to use the cue ‘look’ that I reinforce every time my dog responds to it regardless of how long it takes them in the beginning.  When teaching the cue to start, you will start with little no distractions in the environment.  Say your pups name and ‘look’ or whatever cue you would like.  The second your pup looks at you mark with your ‘yes’ and follow with a treat.  Repeat this over and over until you are able to just say ‘look’ and your pup looks at you in anticipation of the treat.  This is when you will start to generalize the cue by adding mild distractions and repeat until you are getting a rock-solid response from your pup again.  Continue to generalize the cue in this manner.  Overtime you will have a reliable check in from your pup and be able to get their attention in the presence of all those wonderful squirrels and birds.

After you have mastered the above you can work on having your pup come to you from a short distance in the presence of mild distractions, working to build a reliable recall as well!

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