I like to start this process by sitting on a swivel seat that is placed on a 5 gallon bucket. My first step is to teach my dog that there is food in my mouth and that he can learn to catch it. So I will show the dog or puppy with two hands that I am placing food into my mouth while I am sitting on the bucket, I will make blowing noises so it keeps the dog focused upwards while my hands go to my sides, then I will spit to food to my dog, and say “get it”. Do this until your dog or puppy can catch the food, or, understands where the food is coming from. This procedure is setting your “focal point” where you want your dog to look when they are coming in to front position. You can also teach them how to catch in the house, throwing popcorn is a good step to take and they enjoy the game.
Once that is established, you can start to throw the food off to the side and then encourage your dog into front position. I prefer to keep my hands at my sides (when my dog is returning to me and fronting) and use blowing noises to encourage the dog to look up at my face. One thing that SO many people get hung up on is using their hands to guide the dog into front position, and in turn the hands become part of how the behaviour is done and it is difficult to convince the dog otherwise when you try to remove your hands from the picture, i.e. muscle memory sets in.
On a bucket is the best place to start this as your face is not far from the dog and they can connect easier than when you are standing. I do not teach small dogs to look at my face, it is to far up and they tend to sit away from you in front position so they can see your face. Small dogs have a lower focal point, perhaps my waist area or my knees depending on the size of the dog.
Make throwing the treat fun, it will keep your dog enthusiastic and wanting to keep trying, and in turn, fronts can be fun and not a boring, drilling process.
This video shows how I use my legs as chutes for the dog to learn how to come in straight, and I am also introducing off angle fronts at this time. This is part one of a video series I will be releasing on how I teach fronts. I hope you enjoy the learning process,