Generally, a dog has an average attention span of around 60 seconds. That is how long a dog will listen to you before he starts wandering off.
It is only his nature to be curious and playful, so do not expect him to give you his full attention if he finds that to be unrewarding.
Of course, this attention span can vary from the age and breed of the dog as well as the thing or task that he is doing.
You see, dog’s brain is dedicated to scenting and remembering each and every different scent that they have encountered before.
Thus, if the “things” that he needs to pay attention to do not possess any scent, he will not be interested in them and will only give them a short attention span.
He might merely give them a smell and walk away. This is why you will find dogs more willing to give their attention to their food as it carries with it the scent of meat.
It is said that the German Shepherd has the longest attention span and is capable of focusing for up to ten minutes at a time, whereas other breeds such as boxers and dachshund are known for their short attention spans.
Dogs under the age of one year old, which are still in the puppyhood stage, will also have a short attention span because they are too young to focus on anything other than food.
As a dog matures and becomes older, his attention span will also increase. This is because they are more likely to be able to focus on the things they are interested in besides food.
Their natural instinct to explore their surroundings and to learn new things will start to develop.
How Do You Train a Dog’s Attention Span?
It is not rocket science to train your dog, but you will certainly need to know some “tricks” to get the training moving.
So, here are the best tips to build your dog’s attention span:
Make Use Of Basic Obedience Commands
You should start training your dog with obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, lay down, and stand up.
These are the most important commands you must teach your dog to make him give you his devoted attention.
The best way to get started with this is to have a clicker device with you. You can use this device to teach your dog any command he doesn’t know yet.
The key to success in using a clicker to teach your dog is to reward him after he has done something right. You can use food or toys as a reward for your dog.
This will motivate your dog to learn these commands and, eventually, he will be able to execute them when he hears them.
Be consistent with all your commands as the dog has an attention span of only 60 seconds and will get bored and frustrated if he couldn’t figure out how to react to the instruction.
Always start small and do not give him a command which is too long or complex for him. Instead, give him short and simple commands which he will understand easily.
Playing Games With Your Dog
Most dogs love to play ball games with their owners. They will enjoy playing fetch, flirt poles, and tug-of-war.
These games can help to improve your dog’s attention span on you as these activities will require him to interact with you consistently.
You can use these games as a way of bonding with your dog.
Playing Fetching – You can teach your dog to fetch a stick or ball and give him the opportunity to exercise his instinctive hunting skills.
To begin, choose a favorite toy that your dog will enjoy and, as he is looking at you, throw the toy as far away from you as possible.
Your dog will give chase on the toy and as soon as he retrieves the toy back to you, reward him with a treat.
If your dog prefers to chase something other than a toy, then choose a small ball and throw it in various directions.
This game will train your dog to focus on you as he will only be able to retrieve the ball if he is paying attention to you. This will improve his attention span.
Repeat this game with your dog for about 30 minutes before calling it off. Do not overtire your dog with this game as it will exhaust his energy aggressively.
Playing Tug-of-War – You can teach your dog to play tug-of-war with you by using a rope or a strap.
Take the rope or strap and hold it across the floor in front of you. Your dog will then get into position to pull on the rope with you.
He will be giving you his full attention when playing this game as he is trying to pull the rope from you.
This will help to build up his attention span on you. Remember to reward your dog with a treat right after each session.
The above games work great in building your dog’s attention span as they provide him with a lot of exercise and fun.
So, if you want to make your dog more focused and attentive towards you, then go for them!
Regular Walks Will Help Him to Focus on You
You can train your dog to give you his attention during the walk by making him feel that it is more rewarding to pay attention to you than to his stimuli.
Here is the way to do it:
1. Start with the training sessions in the morning when your dog will be at his best behavior, i.e. before eating.
2. It will be easier for you to start with one session a day and progress to two sessions a day when he is progressing well.
3. Have a training session where you start by walking your dog on a leash and the moment he stops and gives you his attention, you will reward him with a treat.
4. Use commands such as “Sit!”, “Stay!” and “Down!” when you want to get his attention. If he does not stop at this point, then you will need to gently pull the leash so that your dog will feel the “pulling” and knows that you are calling him.
5. When he gives you his attention, then you give him a treat. At this point, he will learn that it is more rewarding to listen to you than to focus on his surroundings.
6. In addition to the morning sessions, you may wish to continue the training in the evening as well, if your dog reacts well to the morning training. This will give him a more consistent training session.
7. Keep the training (walk) for under an hour so as not to tire out your dog.
8. Remember that it is not necessary for your dog to pay attention to you 100% of the time during the walk. The goal is to train him to give you a longer attention span in the walk by paying attention to you frequently (in return for a reward).
9. If you are having trouble getting your dog to pay attention to you during the walk, try practicing on a sidewalk or other area where there is less traffic and to make use of more enticing treats for him.
10. Be consistent with the walking routine daily, as dogs do not like unplanned activities.