Attention: Wait for the Questions and Answers

Offered eye contact, aka: Attention, is a key skill for dog training. This skill should be your dog’s goto behavior – nothing happening? Look at the handler for direction.

Automagic Wait

Attention as a default behavior leads to an immediate, automagic Wait behavior. Attention can be marked and the Trigger for a behavior employed to keep the dog in position for a significant amount of time. Just a few reps of this can lead to a strong Wait behavior.


Eye contact or Attention is often a question that the dog is asking the handler. Dog touches something and looks up at you? That is a question as to whether you appreciated the touching of the thing. Answer that question and the dog should respond.

Dog is walking around, sees something and looks to you? That is a question. Dog is bored and looks to you while hanging out? Also a question.

Knowing that Attention is often a question and responding to that question or the dog’s needs that underly that question is key in dog training.


The dog looking to you can also be thought of as the Answer to the question.

It’s the answer when the dog touches the thing and proudly looks at you as if to say, “Right! Got it!”

And it’s also the first answer to any question or any situation that the dog encounters. “Ooo! This is new… What do I do?” Dog looks to the handler.

Dialogue and Q n A

Understanding and cultivating this dialogue is important. Dog and handler passing questions and answers back and forth to each other with Attention and eye contact is a big part of successful cooperative work with a dog.

This dialogue and resolution of questions and answers is what creates a thoughtful dog who is content to wait for the appropriate trigger in this situation or is apt to look first to the handler when there is a distraction.

Attention and eye contact are far more than just Attention and eye contact.

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When the dog leaves the handler for a catch, that tends to create a line. When the dog is away from the handler and moves across the field to make a catch, as in a Zig Zag or Around the World, that tends to create a Shape.