Probably the biggest trouble you can have when training your Dalmatian is actually having him listen to you. Dalmatians are notorious for their independence and their “who cares what you say” attitude. Most people attribute this to some form of stupidity. Obviously, that must be the case.
In reality Dalmatians simply don’t have a very strong desire to please you just because. You could say they’re too smart. You need to give them a good reason to listen to you. And what better way to a canine’s heart than food?
You’ve probably used this trick even with some random angry dog on the street. Some dogs come barking and growling at you, you pick a hotdog or piece of bread or whatever you have nearby and they immediately turn from hostiles into little puppies. And you’re their best friend.
Most people are very impressed when they see someone who has good control over their dog. Especially when they can shift his attention at will. But, really, it’s not that hard to teach your dog a reliable “watch me” command.
How To Teach Your Dalmatian The “Watch Me” Command
Obviously almost any dog owner will benefit from having this command firmly implemented in their dogs’ mind. Even more so if your dog is a Dalmatian. Any independent-minded dog who tries to challenge your authority needs to be taught that you’re the boss and that good things happen when he listens to you.
When I say you’re the boss I don’t mean beat or punish your dog. There seems to be this perceived notion that the boss is always a mob-style guy who eliminates anyone who crosses him. No, a boss is a guy that constantly rattles on about how bad you are at your job and what a miserable performance you do. But I digress.
Boss, in our context, means that you’re the guy in control. You’re the pack leader. And, I say again, the most important aspect is that good things happen around you. You’re a fountain of goodwill, love and generosity. Act like it.
The “Watch Me” Command Is Pretty Easy To Teach
You may feel a little silly, you may feel like you’re doing some Vulcan mind-melding forehead power-action. Regardless, you won’t be disappointed. Start by grabbing a treat, holding it between your eyes and saying “Watch Me.” He will be staring greedily at the treat, but at least he’s looking in your direction.
As soon as he looks at you say “good Watch Me” and reward him with the treat you held in your hand. After a couple more tries he’ll be looking at you consistently. It’s time to up your game.
This time hold the treat inside your hand where he can’t see it, but still put your hand up near your face. Say “Watch Me” and if he looks at you praise and reward him. If he looks at your hand say “uh-uh, watch me”. When he looks at you again praise and reward him.
If he doesn’t get it hold the treat in front of your eyes again and tell him to watch you again. Start mixing up where you hold the treat. One time in front of your eyes, the next two in your hand, the next 3 in front of your eyes.
When you always have the treat outside your dogs’ sight and he still looks at you start lengthening the time he has to look at you before you give him the treat. Up to 10 times a day of practice is more than enough for this command.
After a few days you’ll have your reliable watch me command which you can start trying in more distracting environments. Eventually you’ll be able to always demand your dog’s attention when you want it.