This game will start out in a very easy place. Do it in a setting in which you know your dog wil succeed. This might at first be your living room.
First, give your dog many treats in very quick succession. You can easily give him 20 or more (small!) treats in a row. He does not have to do anything for this – the treats are “free”.
(The more you struggle with getting your dog’s attention, the more free treats he needs!)
Then, take just a brief break in the treat delivery – a few seconds. Don’t say or do anything, just stop. Your dog will probably look at you in expectation: “More treats?” then you continue feeding him.
After a couple rounds of this, toss a treat on the ground. We are now purposefully making our dog break his focus – he cannot look at us while at the same time eating a treat from the ground.
At this point we have hopefully impressed our dog so much with our treats that he only quickly picks up the treat and focuses his attention right back on us. Perfect! Let’s give him some more treats.
I don’t use a specific cue for the attention games. However, you could say your dog’s name or also use a special word, such as “Watch me” or “Focus”.
However, make sure to only give this cue to your dog when there is a good chance they will respond. We do not want to have them rehearsing ignoring our cue in environments that are too difficult!