I read this great post by Susan Garrett about training attention, a skill that pretty much every trainer (P+ or otherwise) focuses on. But should we really? Over the years I myself have been a little confused by the various takes on training attention. Initially I thought “yes of course the dog needs to pay attention to you!” But then I realized that asking for constant attention is completely unreasonable; I resent people who demand as much from me. In addition it could be awfully uncomfortable for the dog since they perceive prolonged direct eye contact as aggression. In obedience training we went from training Wally to look at me to training him to look at my hand, all with the same trainer.
So what’s the right answer? I couldn’t tell you, but I do know that it’s whatever is most comfortable and effective for you and your dog. To me it seems most reasonable to expect the dog to check in periodically while performing the job at hand. This would allow him to focus on independently solving the problem while verifying that the request hasn’t changed. What do you think?