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  #1  
Old 08-21-2009, 02:41 AM
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"Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Hi All,

We have enrolled little Mars (12 weeks old) at a training school for puppy socialization. Both Mars and Luna also go to our Rottweiler club, but there aren't any other small pups for him to socialize with at the moment, hence the extra training/puppy K.

Now last night (first session) the trainer advised us NEVER to make eye contact with our dogs, since this is one way they control us. (According to her the other controlling behaviours are naughty behaviour and taking advantage of our emotional states). Anyone ever heard of this? What's the reasoning behind not making eye contact with your pup? I understand that one should not make eye contact with a strange, possibly aggressive dog, but your own 12 week old pup? How am I going to train him in obedience and IPO without eye contact?

I have to add that some of the pups in this class are real nightmares (or rather, their owners are the nightmares). There's a little Siberian Husky that growls and snaps at everyone, especially where food is concerned, and an out-of-control, bouncing-off-the-walls golden retriever whose owner complains that she's at her wit's end because "he hasn't been housetrained at all, and pees all over the place!" (Umm, they now come housetrained and polished from the breeder at 8 weeks?? Wow! Where can I find a breeder like this?!). So perhaps the trainer is trying to head off problems with inexperienced owners, before they start.

Any thoughts on this? I'd like to stick out at least the 2 months puppy K, since the rest of her advice seems sound, basic NILIF and rewards based training, and she tends to blame bad ownership for problematic dogs. She also isn't prejudiced against Rottweilers, having owned and showed Dobermans for years, and this is rare to find in a mixed puppy school.
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  #2  
Old 08-21-2009, 05:01 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

You may want to clarify this with your trainer. It sounds as though you may have misunderstood or he may have been talking in a different context.
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2009, 05:56 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Nope, the trainer (he's actually a she) is quite adamant that you never make eye contact with your dog as this is a way of getting control over you in order to become top dog.

I have to say, a lot of the people at the training last night does appear to have MAJOR issues in their homes and don't have any control over their dogs. I think she might just be trying to assist them so that they regain control and not soften up when they stare into those puppy eyes.

Personally I use a lot of eye contact during training to convey what I want my dog to do. And sometimes I even use the EVIL EYE, e.g. down OR ELSE....
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  #4  
Old 08-21-2009, 06:07 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

To clarify, for those who don't know, Doodsangel (posted above) is my husband. We were both at the training session last night. And yes, his summation is quite right. The trainer was very clear on the point, this is not just under special circumstances. You NEVER make eye contact with your dog, as this could be a way for him to gain control over you in order to become top dog. She even said to teach your children (if you have any) to rather always focus on the points of the dog's ears (in the case of a husky, for instance).

Last edited by LunaBelle; 08-21-2009 at 06:13 AM. Reason: spelling!
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2009, 07:15 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Well actually if you look at the old Koehler method of training there was not real connection to the dog other than the command, then a compulsive correction. NO treats and they felt if you gave the dog the command and then forced it, this was the way. We sure have learned, this is not the way, but I still see people using these methods, the force retrieve, the sneak away.
Although I believe the owner and dog should make nice eye contact, this trainer may not want this to gain control over the dogs, if they are out of control, the last thing you want is an owner, following the dog around to look into its eyes. This too was an old silly dominating method of training, probably before most on this list were born. The USA has more venues and more put out for public education, S Africa is probably limited to some of this.
I think it is wonderful to go to this class and take as much as you can, especially if it is working, as we all know not all methods work for each and every dog.

Keep us all posted on this very interesting thread...
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  #6  
Old 08-21-2009, 07:43 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Some years ago, it was believed that full eye contact issued a challenge. While that is true of dogs and wolves in the wild, as a bid for supremacy... it does not translate directly between dog and human.

Granted, with a strange dog, make whatever concessions you deem necessary. With your own dog, however? The first ride home with Raven, as she sat in my lap, all she did was look me in the eye, every waking hour. She was figuring things out, who I was, what game we might play next, did she appreciate the skritch or the cuddle I was giving, etc.

She was not trying to, then, nor could she ever control her human(s). That idea has somehow been twisted out of the confrontation theory. It makes no sense, and if it were me, after this session, I'd be finding a more intellegent trainer. What is this? Hypnotism by dog? "You are in my power..."

I agree that you need eye contact in order to train your dog. I recently adopted one of my fosters. He would look past my eyes, off to the side... and totally ignore what he didn't want to do. If any attempt at all was made to train him, prior to landing on my doorstep at 8 months, it was very poorly done.

It took me under an hour to get the dog to look me in the eye. I gave him a treat, showed him another, then raised to smack between my eyes. Rather silly, but my friends suggestion worked! I clicker train, so the nano second I caught the eye contact, I clicked and treated. Now that I had his full attention? He learned very, very fast all those things and 8 month old puppy should know.

Within 3 short weeks he went from the most obnoxious, self centered, beligerent, do whatever I dang well please kind of dog to a totally well mannered, gentleman. He walked with a loose lead, he did not jump up, he did not mow me down when I went to the kitchen, he could sit, and down. Looking me in the eye put me in charge... not the other way around.

I am not a dog. So I am not an alpha... but I am the one in charge. Ask any one of the my dogs. I never correct, other than a verbal, "AHHT!" I prefer clicker training to any other method of positive training.

Let me tell you, within that 3 week period with my darling Stetson. He decided he'd rather work for me than the treats. After a particular click for "you got it right," he came over to my side, leaned on me, and offerred up his heart, fully and with his eyes full of love.

So not look my dog in the eye? PFFFFT! How would I have the heart and respect of my Stetson, or my girls whom I'd raised from puppies? How would I have the respect of the fosters thru my home? Eye contact is a beautiful thing.

Most likely, that very moment Stetson gave his heart, was the moment I knew he was my dog.
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Last edited by SABELLESMOM; 08-21-2009 at 07:49 AM.
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  #7  
Old 08-21-2009, 08:30 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Eye contact in training I find to be very important, shows the dog is concentrating on you. When in training, I do not see how this will show signs of controlling. I have always used, and will always use the command focus with Harley in the OB ring as we start. When teaching the command focus, it is important for the dog to look into your eyes.
When they do a stare down, you can see the body language change, more stiff, neck held higher, that I would see more of a challenge than looking at you.
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  #8  
Old 08-21-2009, 08:36 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by rottielover2004 View Post
When they do a stare down, you can see the body language change, more stiff, neck held higher, that I would see more of a challenge than looking at you.
Totally agree. You can clearly see when a rotty is challenging you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rottielover2004 View Post
Eye contact in training I find to be very important, shows the dog is concentrating on you.
I have found that the times Luna doesn't execute a command immediately or even dare to shun me (which I immediately correct), are the times that she is not looking straight at me. When she looks at me, she is very quick to respond to any and all commands.
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  #9  
Old 08-21-2009, 09:11 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

If the class trainer will let you why not just go to class and train your dog your way? Tell the trainer that for what you plan to accomplish with your dog you have to train a different way and you must have focus. Use the class for socialization and distractions but teach your dog how you want to. That is what I did at my puppy class and the trainer was very understanding.
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  #10  
Old 08-21-2009, 09:28 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisBlanchard View Post
If the class trainer will let you why not just go to class and train your dog your way? Tell the trainer that for what you plan to accomplish with your dog you have to train a different way and you must have focus. Use the class for socialization and distractions but teach your dog how you want to. That is what I did at my puppy class and the trainer was very understanding.
Yes, that is what my wife and I agreed. Saturday will be our first class, so we'll let you know how it went.

I think one of this trainer's biggest markets are just people that wants to train their dogs a bit of basic obedience so that they can keep house with them. She comes highly recommended, but I don't think she is the right trainer for IPO and Schutzhund.

We belong to a Rottweiler Working club as well as a Man-work club for "actual" training purposes. We just joined this trainer so that Mars has the opportunity to socialize with other puppies as there is currently no puppies at our working club, but that changes daily. We might be surprised on Sunday when we get to our Rotty club and find that another pup has joined.

Nonetheless, it is good to listed to other people who "knows" dogs and sift through the information. One can always learn something.
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  #11  
Old 08-21-2009, 09:41 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by SABELLESMOM View Post
She was not trying to, then, nor could she ever control her human(s). That idea has somehow been twisted out of the confrontation theory. It makes no sense, and if it were me, after this session, I'd be finding a more intellegent trainer. What is this? Hypnotism by dog? "You are in my power..."
That's exactly the feeling that I got.

How the heck can you teach "Watch me" without eye contact? I agree with the advice to use the class for socialization and ignore the stupid ideas.
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  #12  
Old 08-21-2009, 10:59 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

That's what I did too...
I couldn't find a puppy kindergarten for Mandy, so I went to PetSmart and told the trainer there that I wanted to come, but do things my way. LOL She agreed and it worked just fine.

Last edited by hast; 08-21-2009 at 11:00 AM. Reason: spelling...
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  #13  
Old 08-21-2009, 11:35 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Its completely the opposite for me. When I look my dog in the eyes he knows who is boss. This is not a challenge but a corrective action. Starring is a challenge.
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  #14  
Old 08-21-2009, 11:39 AM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

one more thing, its more of a, "hey I saw that" or "dont do that again" thing when I look at my dog. They are like children...the older the dog gets the more respect they have for you, your actions, and the way you communicate with the dog.
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  #15  
Old 08-21-2009, 12:31 PM
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Re: "Do NOT make eye contact with your dog!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by LunaBelle
.. Now last night (first session) the trainer advised us NEVER to make eye contact with our dogs, since this is one way they control us.
This sounds like psycho babble to me. Your dog should be very comfortable with eye contact, as this is primarily what is used to get and maintain attention so we can give direction and the dog can receive it.

My dog is very happy to give me her eyes when I ask for them...I do all the time, every day. I cringe to think how far back we would be set if she, or I, refused to look at each other.
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