Basic Training: Focus or Check In
One of the first and most important commands you can teach your deaf dog or hearing dog for that matter is the focus or check in command. Consistency and frequency is the key to this exercise and in no time your deaf dog will constantly check in with you.
You want your deaf dog to actively check in with you regularly and so there are two ways of achieving this.
How to master the focus or check in command
1. Wait to capture the desired behaviour
Be prepared to REWARD every random look in your direction with a Thumbs Up and/or a Treat.
You should start to notice that the dogs "not so random" looks become more frequent; even expectant.
2. Lure the behaviour you wish to see
Use a high value treat to start out by passing it under their nose and up to your face and when their eyes follow use your Focus cue, followed by Thumbs Up and then Reward with the treat.
Repeat only a few times in one go, but frequently practice.
As above, you should begin to see the desired behaviour happen of the dogs own intent which you should also be rewarding via Thumbs Up or treat.
Here is Rhino is demonstrating a Lured look. Treat from his nose to my face > Focus Cue > Thumbs Up > Reward. Repeat just a few times each practice.
If your dog already offers eye/face contact there’s no need to lure them - skip straight to your Focus Cue.
Why use a Thumbs Up?
It’s the equivalent to the verbal Yes! Marker. A Thumbs Up is our way of letting the dog know that whatever they just did is what they are being rewarded for.
For dogs who can hear you generally use a Yes or Good Dog verbal cue. This is deaf dog version.