My bent is toward science and math - in school I did not like english and history. Except once, in 9th grade for history and 12th for English. Both times it involved a teacher who put a lot of energy, play, creativity and engagement into the class, into the materials and sought out alternate methods of teaching.
My interest was engaged and my attention ensured by the graphic and creative way both classes were introduced. There wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't learning something new and excited about doing so. I even started writing short stories and studying the history that wasn't taught in school. I eventually became a conspiracy theorist and have never stopped writing.
I still prefer math and science, but now I know how to research, how to write about it and how to gain and keep the interest and attention of those I'm trying to educate, and I have a breadth of knowledge of the past that assists in helping me create the future.
Getting and keeping your dog's attention is necessary when teaching your dog to do anything. It is also necessary when trying to resolve behavior issues. If your dog is focused on something else, if his attention is distracted from the task at hand, there can be no learning and no change. Having an interest in your dog and paying attention to her communication is just as, if not more, important.
What is attention?
Attention is engagement, focus, interest, affinity and communication. In order to accomplish true attention, your dog must be willing to be in your space and have you in her space (affinity). YOU must be willing to have your dog in your space and be in her space. You must be willing to learn the language of dogs and communicate at the dog's level and with the dog's understanding. Learning human is much harder for the dog, then learning dog is for the human. It can be done, but it takes a human who is first willing to learn dog. You must be willing to engage with your dog and have her engage with you, both physically and emotionally. There needs to be a responsibility and willingness to have this creature as an integral part of your life.
If you aren't engaged, how can you expect your dog to be interested in what you want?
When we put our own enthusiasm, our own energy and our creativity into communicating with our dogs, both of us learn something, both of us win and a strong bond is built. This is the major building block to gaining your dog's attention. First you have to get his interest by being interested in the process yourself. You have to give of yourself first, before you can expect your dog to care about what you are trying to communicate.
Tomorrow I will discuss some of the ways that you can gain the interest and attention of your dog.