Here is a fun game to help teach your dog that it is acceptable (even desirable) to look at another dog. It is important to play this game when your dog is sub threshold and relaxed. It is not time to play this game if your dog is having a reaction. Start by teaching this game inside your home. If you have ever done “Look at That” or LAT (by Leslie McDevitt) with your dog, this is the same. I just use the cue “What’s That” for this instead of Look at that because I use “Look” for my eye contact cue with my dog. If you sat “watch” or some work other than “Look” for your eye contact only cue, you can certainly say “Look at that” for this cue.
STEP 1: Bring out a neutral object (roll of paper towels, water bottle, etc.) from behind your back and click/treat your dog for looking at the object.
STEP 2: Put the object back behind your back between glances. Pull it out and click/treat when he looks at the object then at you.
STEP 3: Once your dog is beginning to anticipate the presence of the object and is looking at the object then back at you for his treat/reward, put the object on a table or counter nearby and add the cue “What’s That?”
STEP 4: Practice with many different neutral objects. Once your dog enjoys the “What’s That” game inside, try playing it outside (in an area with few distractions at first) with neutral objects.
STEP 5: Once your dog is having fun playing the game with neutral objects outside, try it with a stationary, non-reactive dog. Make sure your dog is still under his threshold. You may need to increase distance from the other dog.
STEP 6: Once the presence of the other dog becomes the predictor of a fun game you can decrease distance (threshold) and add in movement of the other dog.