Teaching your puppy a bond gaze

How to teach your pup to look up to for direction

The key to a lasting bond is confidence in your own skills. Unlock this power and train your dog to be the perfect life companion.

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Dog ears and taill illustration

November 23, 2022

Bond gaze

Your bond with your pup is so important.

This is the attachment relationship between you and your pup and is essential in creating safety and security for your pup. When you have a strong bond, your pup looks to you for direction and stays close to you. This makes every aspect of training so much easier as your pup WANTS to pay attention to you.

Many behavioural issues stem from poorly established bonds between the pup and mentor, so it’s worth putting in the time and effort to establish and maintain a sound, loving relationship.

For example, recall is a very good test of your bond with your pup - a well bonded pup will be much easier to recall!

Some easy ways to build a strong bond with your pup include:

  • Providing guidance and boundaries
  • Lots of contact, love and play
  • Controlling access to resources
  • Training techniques designed to bond your dog to you, such as my signature Joining Up and Umbilical techniques
  • Maintaining a calm, confident disposition for your dog
  • Teaching your pup a simple bond gaze

One of the quickest and simplest ways to start building a trusting bond with your pup, is by teaching a Bond Gaze. This is when your pup looks up to your eyes, looking to you for direction.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this simple activity!

Why is the bond gaze so important?

A bond gaze will activate oxytocin in both you and your pup, as well as stimulating dopamine (and other reward hormones). It is a rewarding, pleasurable activity and by encouraging the release of oxytocin in your pup’s brain when they look at you, you are teaching your pup to love you and bond with you.

The reason this is so important and an effective training aid is that it:

  • helps build contact and focus
  • reinforces your pup’s learning state as it is calming and reassuring
  • can be great for settling distracted, hyperactive pups
  • is part of their being able to "ask" for something and talk to you - part of the reciprocal shared language
  • enhances their impulse control, learning to delay gratification

Once you’ve taught your pup this technique, it will begin to happen voluntarily.

How to teach a bond gaze

  • Get your pup into a Sit
  • Hold a treat in your hand up at your eye level to direct your pup's eye line toward yours – click and reward gentle eye contact
  • Ensure your treat hand is near your eyes so they see your eyes, not just the food – reward the eye contact not just looking in the general direction
  • If they are not looking into your eyes, wiggle a finger on your lure hand so the movement draws their attention and/or give a slight whistle/noise or call their name to get their attention
  • CLICK the second you get their eye contact, then follow up with a treat
  • Don't put your hand in your pouch to get the treat during this process as they'll follow that hand with their eyes
  • Repeat a few times in this first session
  • Practice as part of your training 2-3 times per day
  • Remember to keep your eyes soft, not staring.  You are rewarding your pup's soft eyes too, not hard staring which is a sign of fear and/or aggression.  
  • Once you’ve got it going well, you can introduce a Watch command. Then you can stop using a treat to get their eyes up to yours and instead just hold your hand up at your eyeliner and say “Watch!” and wiggle a finger if necessary. Soon you won’t need to use the hand at all, and will likely find your pup looks up to you for direction automatically without any command needed!

You will love the effects of this training and how quickly it develops the bond in both of you - gazing into each other's eyes is a great oxytocin producer!

Want to have the best possible bond with your pup?

Building a strong bond to last a lifetime with your pup is the foundation of my Virtual Puppy School. With my signature training techniques, you’ll teach your pup to bond tightly with you, focus on you and look to you for direction - this makes every other aspect of training so much easier!

We cover everything you need to know to raise and train your pup, lovingly.

Learn More.

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