– Or shift responsibility to your dog!

Once your dog understands what you expect (your criteria), extra help (verbal reminders, luring, leg pats, leash cues, etc.) should no longer be used and food is taken away as a lure.

In the final stages of training, treat incentives should become a reward for correct responses.  As your dog becomes more proficient, the reward is given to your dog on a random basis to reward only the best responses and efforts.  If your dog chooses not to respond correctly, the reward should be withheld.  When he puts forth effort to respond in the correct manner, praise and reward him with treats, a game of tug, or both!

To ensure your dog will perform the exercises when the toy or food is NOT present and without any help, follow these simple guidelines:

As your dog becomes more successful with a skill 80% of the time (the 80% rule), start randomly saying your cue word or giving your signal with no treat/toy visible.

Give verbal praise or input during this phase of training.

DO NOT return to luring once you have successfully weaned off of visible rewards.  This will create a “helpless” dog.  That is, a dog that can no longer perform without visible lures.

Keep the rewards a surprise and use the games you have learned in this course to keep your dog’s focus and desire.

Make sure that your primary reward is your praise and that the toy and food are the secondary rewards.

Shift the responsibility of the skill to your dog.  This means no help from you, i.e. cues or extra commands. The first command is what counts!

Once your dog understands how to perform a skill or exercise, only reward his best efforts!

Avoid advertising the fact that you have food in your mouth or toys in your pocket!

Every dog is motivated by something!  Take the time to figure out what best motivates your dog and reward him for giving you his utmost!

Follow US on YouTube for more training videos.

Check out Poe’s YouTube Channel for more training videos!

Fireworks- My Puppy is GOING Krazy!

AH – July 4th and FIREWORKS.
I take advantage When I get the opportunity to condition a new dog or puppy to ENJOY fireworks,

YES ~ I said enjoy!
We start inside the house so the fireworks sounds are muffled.   I surround myself with all my dogs.  Sly, Riker, and Karrde have all been through this conditioning drill.
We begin inside playing with toys and tugging.  Every time I hear a bang or boom,  I cue fun and games to all my dogs and we begin to play.
This cue becomes very exciting for all the boys and my new puppy, POE, picks up on the excitement quickly.  ONLY when I see that POE is having fun will we venture outside.
Once outside, we wait for fireworks sounds.  I whistle and have fun, while the adult dogs run and bark.  As you can see, my other dogs are LOVING the GAME.  It will not take POE long to join in on the Firework Games!

Watch POE Grow – The life and training of a competition puppy.

Now is your chance! “WATCH POE GROW” will give you that opportunity to watch me train my new puppy, Poe.

In the upcoming videos, Poe and I will be showing you everything I like to do with a puppy or dog to build a great competition partner and a wonderful family member.

Poe will be learning skills that will help create a great foundation needed for future competitions as well as learning how to be a well-adjusted partner and pet.

You will get to spend time with Poe as he experiences new locations, and socializes with new people and dogs. In addition, you’ll learn how I teach various skills, while we build confidence, focus, and enthusiasm.

More importantly, Poe and I will show you how to build desire for focus and engagement through great skills like recalls, tug, bringing back toys, self-control, and much more.

Don’t miss out! While a new puppy offers you a clean slate to build solid foundations, confidence, focus and desire, it is never too late to address issues and clean up foundations with your current dog.

This is the opportunity to teach your new puppy or your current dog everything you want your dog to know.

Poe says to Click LIKE, SUBSCRIBE (to get updates) and SHARE as we “WATCH POE GROW”.

My Dogs – How Lucky I Have Been

I have been fortunate over the past XX years :>) to have some really awesome dogs to share my life. They have all been pets first and teammates second and they have taught me very valuable lessons and added to my life.

The first thing my dogs have taught me is that you can’t predict the details of your life. You just can’t foresee the future. Life often turns out to be not quite what we were planning and sometimes this can be a good thing.

Who would know that an out of control Siberian Husky, Rasha, would set me on the path of dog training. She would run out the front door and it would take me hours to catch her. One day she actually ran into the side of a moving car. She didn’t hurt herself but did manage to dent the side of the car. It was at that point that I was lucky to run into a person that trained dogs. I would have never dreamed that I’d fall in love with this dog and that she would become my best friend, teacher, and a gateway to a new future.

Another important lesson that my dogs have taught me is to live in the present and enjoy the time I have to spend with them and with others.

My Shetland Sheepdog, Nessie, taught me to enjoy each minute of life. She was 4 years young when I lost her to the big “C.” Nessie and I had so much fun together training and showing. She would sit on my lap so that I could hold her chew bone and she munched on it for hours. Even though my time with her was too short, Nessie guided me on the path of dog training. Through her I met new people and wonderful mentors.

My dogs seem to have the ability for a natural gift for compassion and understanding. They were deeply affected by my emotions.

Two of my dogs, Du, a Golden Retriever, and Easy, a Border Collie, helped me though a very tough break up and divorce. They could tell when I was upset and stressed and found ways to help and support me through tough times. Du was a real clown and always made me laugh even during the toughest of times. Easy was the thinker and seemed to know just when I needed a head to pet and would come and nuzzle up to me. No matter how upset I would be, they shared their patient loving nature with me.

One of the greatest joys of having a dog is that they are always thrilled to see me regardless of how rotten my day was. When I wake in the morning they greet me with excited expecting eyes and when I come home they greet me at the door and say “Hi, How are you doing? Welcome home.

It is always such a great feeling to come home to dogs that are excited to see me. When people come over or we are out and about, my dogs LOVE to meet and greet people. They have never met a person they have not liked. They just always bring a smile to people’s faces. Once, while walking through a parking lot with Du and Solo, both Golden Retrievers, a lady stopped me. She commented “boy you can tell your dog’s just LOVE life”. My comment back was “yes ma’am, they really do.” Du and Solo put a smile on her face as well as mine. Wow what an impact that one encounter and comment had. I am so glad that my dogs shared their joy with a stranger.

My dogs also remind me that we all are meant to play and have fun! Working 24/7 is wasting a big part of your life.

About a year ago I lost a very special dog, Rip, a Border Collie. Rip was such a special dog! He had a wicked sense of humor and was always game for anything as long as he was with me. His loss reminded me that there was so much we wanted to do together but “work” or “life” always seemed to get in the way. While Rip loved everything, he didn’t care about titles or winning BUT he did love showing and the special attention he always received from me and the crowd. He would work for the crowd. The more applause or laughter the more fun he had and the more he enjoyed showing. I still miss him terribly.

I have learned so much from all my dogs. It is so easy to lose sight of the important things. Life, at times can be full of negative people, comments and situations. When feeling like the walls are closing in on you, look to your dogs for help.

Whenever I’m feeling out of sorts or just need to be more centered, I look at my dogs, now Sly, Riker and Karrde, all Border Collies, and say “let’s go do something.” It can be a walk around the property or a game of ball in the field or a short training session. I just exhale and enjoy my time with them.

No matter what I’m feeling whether I am busy, stressed, anxious, or angry, just putting my hands on Sly, Riker, or Karrde’s head and cuddling up to them takes all my troubles away and helps me feel better. Petting a dog can be one of the most mindful, peaceful, and calming moments you can experience.

Enjoy your dog and the time you have with him. Never forget the bond you share, the gift each dog gives you, and the time you have together!

Maintaining Focus

Attention and focus can make or break a performance.

This article ran Feb 18, 2020 USDAA Training Tuesday

It is hard for your dog to learn, perform a skill or exercise correctly, if you do not have his complete attention. When training, insist that your dog pay 100 percent attention to you, and be alert for any breaks in focus that may happen.

Once you begin a training session, be aware of any “down time” that may occur while you are working with your dog. Down time happens when you are getting more treats, setting up jumps, walking a course, etc. During this time, if your dog is allowed to wonder around, sniff or visit with others, he is rehearsing a behavior that you most certainly will frown upon later when competing.

Rehearse goDebby Quigley and Rip focusingod HABITS. Before ever getting your dog out of a crate, make a plan. With a plan in mind, you will be able to set out everything you need for your training session. Being prepared will enable you to move from one skill or exercise to the next without losing your dog’s focus. While you are working with your dog, insist that he give his undivided attention and stays engaged with you.

How do you do this? One way is to randomly reward your dog’s effort to pay attention to you by paying him with treats or a game of tug. WHAT? your dog won’t tug? Play the “KrazyKookie” game with him. This is a great game of having him chase the treat that stays in your hand until he catches the yummy.

Next, teach your dog it is in his best interest to watch you closely. While training, be unpredictable and spontaneous with your movements, or give unexpected commands to discourage him from taking even a single glance away from you. Your ability to praise and reward attention, and to discourage inattentiveness, will have a direct effect on your dog’s performance during training and also in a ring setting.

While training, maintain your dog’s focus in non-audible ways. Here are a few ideas:

Debby Quigley and her dogs

  • Push and run away, or push and play tug or KrazyKookie with your dog.
  • Drop a toy or treat pocket to your dog that is hidden underneath your arm.
  • When leaving on a sit or start-line, quickly turn and toss a reward to your dog.

Attention and focus can make or break a performance in any sport. Work to build and maintain your dog’s focus on you during all training sessions that will ensure your success when competing or showing.

Look for Debby’s “Games4Focus,” “Skills, Drills, and Thrills” and “Focus Cram” classes to learn more fun games, drills and techniques to getting and maintaining focus while training and competing.

Debby Quigley been showing and teaching for more than 30 years in many venues including obedience, rally, agility and nose work. She has earned multiple OTCHs, MACHs, PACHs and perfect scores of 200. Debby also owns Dogwood Dog Training in Houston, Texas; she teaches classes there and online at DebbyQuigley.com.

STOP Shut Down :<(

(Or learned helplessness)!

How many times have you heard a trainer comment, “he just shuts down” or “he doesn’t like to work under this condition”?

What happens when a dog “shuts down”?

Shutting down is when a dog has stopped trying to do what is being asked because he has learned he is never right and cannot win in the situation. Imagine if every time you raised your hand and tried to answer a question in class your teacher screams at you “NO YOU ARE WRONG.” No matter how many ways or times you tried to answer the question, you were told that you were wrong and never told what the correct answer was. How many times would this happen before you would no longer attempt to try to answer even a simple question?

The most telling characteristics of “shut down” in a dog are:
* A dog that is unresponsive to motivators and rewards. In other words, the dog will not play or interact with the trainer and rarely will eat treats.
* The dog’s posture is guarded and they may react slowly or not at all to commands and/or signals.
* The dog has checked out mentally i.e. “nothing at home” or “deer in the headlights” look.
* The dog might display stress signs such as lip licking or avoiding eye contact.
* Shut down is sometimes confused with “submission.”

It is important to note that a dog in a shutdown state is not necessarily exhibiting what is referred to as learned helplessness. However, for the purpose of this article, we are referring to learned helplessness.

What is Learned Helplessness in Dogs?
Learned helplessness is a psychological state that occurs when an animal has been repeatedly hurt either mentally or physically and has no way to escape or win. The dog shuts down, and in some cases is almost paralyzed or unresponsive. The “hurt” might be unintentionally caused by the trainer through progressing too rapidly in training, lack of communication of the concepts, or inappropriate proofing.

Why am I talking about shut down and learned helplessness?
This is a huge training problem that, for the most part, can be avoided. Every time you unfairly punish, correct, or nag your dog, you risk creating this behavior.

Some dogs that have learned to shut down are permanently handicapped when learning new behaviors that require thought. The dog would rather not attempt to learn the new skill because of the fear of being incorrect. They view learning a new behavior is a bad thing, so they only offer what they consider is the “safe behavior” that is not trying or giving effort.

Here are the top errors that trainers make that teach their dog to give up or shut down!

Mistake #1: “Positive = permissive”
Today’s dog trainers are using more positive methods to teach skills and modify behaviors. While this is great, many trainers feel that all interactions with their dogs need to be purely positive. In other words, there is little to no consequence for the lack of effort or bad behavior. It is important for a dog to understand the difference between right and wrong. Equally important is that the dog has boundaries. Training starts with setting clear boundaries and controlling the resources in the dog’s life, which includes affection and play.

Mistake #2: Dependency on luring
As straightforward as luring can be, it can also cause problems. In the beginning stages, some dogs become too focused on the lure to think about what they’re doing. Another potential problem with luring is that some dogs become dependent on the lure, i.e. they become the “show me the money” dogs. These dogs will not perform until they know there is something in it for them. This is easier to prevent than it is to fix, but it’s certainly not going to ruin a dog if it happens. Preventing lure-dependency is as simple as not letting the lure become a pattern. Use your lure to help the dog get into position 3-5 times and then get it out of your hand. You’ve now switched from luring the dog (showing him what he could have ahead of time) to rewarding him (surprising him with something special after he does what you want.)

Mistake #3: Poor timing
Timing is essential in dog training! Poor timing means you could be marking behaviors, right or wrong, inappropriately, or rewarding the wrong behavior. Incorrect timing sends the wrong message and prolongs your dog’s ability to properly learn the skill. The old saying “timing is everything” was written for dog trainers!

Mistake #4: improper use of proofing
Proofing or testing your dog’s understanding of a skill under all circumstances, is extremely important if you want to have success when showing in any venue. Unfortunately, many trainers believe in an all or nothing approach to proofing. It is important for a dog’s confidence that he understands understand how to “win” in a proofing scenario. If you are in a new location, attempting a new distraction or practicing a sequence of skills, make sure to explain how your dog can win if he has problems sorting out what to do.

Mistake #5: lack of consistency
The key to all training is consistency. If you’re not consistent, you are not going to get a good result. In addition, your dog will not know what to expect which will diminish his confidence. A leader needs the trust and respect of the dog. You want to make it as simple as possible for your dog to learn. The only way that will happen, is being a consistent trainer. Sit means sit the first time you say it. The criteria need to be the same each and every time. Inconsistency will only confuse your dog.

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” ― Anthony Robbins

This article was previously Published 6/2017.


DISTRACTION TRAINING (or proofing) builds your dog’s confidence, focus, and attention on you so that your dog can perform a skill any place, anytime, no matter what is happening. During this week we will look at various ways to proof your dog.

Training Note: it is not bad for your dog to be wrong. Your dog being wrong is your opportunity to teach your dog how to be correct.

What impacts your dog’s ability to work when in the presence of distractions?

  • How far your dog is from the distraction.
  • The distance you are from your dog. The closer you are to your dog, the more confidence your dog will have.
  • The value of the distraction. High value reinforcements (1’s) used as distractions are more difficult for your dog to be right than low value reinforcements (3’s) used as distractions.
    whether the distraction is moving or stationary.
  • Whether your dog is moving or stationary.
  • Your dog’s basic temperament. Some dogs worry about things in the environment; some dogs are very visually sensitive; some dogs have noise sensitivities, etc.

Watch your dog for signs of stress when working on distractions. Your goal is to build your dog’s confidence, not make your dog worry.

Some of the signs of stress are:

  • ears laid back
  • panting
  • yawning
  • mouth tight
  • low body posture
  • eyes wide or glassy

Training Note: If your dog is unsuccessful twice in a row, simplify what you are doing BUT keep the distraction present.


  • If you are working away from your dog (such as doing a recall), and your dog was unsuccessful two times in a row, decrease the distance between you and your dog. So if you were standing 20’ away when your dog was unsuccessful, shorten that distance to 10’ but keep the distraction in the same location.
  • Another way to simplify is to increase the distance between your dog’s position or path and the location of the distraction. So if the distraction was 5’ away from your dog or your dog’s path, move the distraction so that it is 8’ away from your dog or your dog’s path.
  • Remember: If your dog is unsuccessful twice in a row, do something to SIMPLIFY BUT keep the distraction present.

Knowing how to proof successfully will create a confident and happy working dog that can rise to any occasion that might happen while training or in a show ring.

Maintaining FOCUS!

It is hard for your dog to learn and perform a skill or exercise correctly if you do not have his complete attention. Insist that your dog pay 100% attention to you. At the same time, you should give your dog 100% of your attention!

Once you begin a training session, be aware of any “down time” that may occur while you are working with your dog. Down time occurs when you are getting more treats, setting up jumps, putting out gloves/articles, etc.

If your dog has an opportunity for frequent sniff and gaze breaks, it is unlikely that his attention span will increase sufficiently enough to pay attention to you through an entire ring performance.

Rehearse good habits. First, make a training plan before you arrive at the new location. With a plan in mind, you will be able to set out everything that you need for your training session.  That will enable you to move quickly from one skill or exercise to the next. While you are working with your dog, convince him to give you his undivided attention and to stay engaged with you. Randomly reward your dog’s effort to pay attention to you by paying him with treats and toys.

Secondly, reassure your dog it is in his best interest to watch you closely!  While training, be unpredictable and spontaneous with your movements, or give unexpected commands to discourage him of taking even a single glance away from you! Your ability to praise and reward attention and to discourage inattentiveness will have a direct effect on your dog’s performance during training and also in a ring setting.

While training, maintain your dog’s focus in non-audible ways.

Here are a few ideas;
• Push and run, or push and play.
• Release up in heel position for treat or toy.
• Release with a toy, pocket, or treat thrown over your head down to heel position.
• Drop a toy, or pocket to your dog that is held underneath your left arm.

Attention and focus will make or break a performance in any sport.  Work to build and maintain your dog’s focus on you during all training sessions and you ensure your success when showing.

Look for my class “Crate2Gate” to learn more fun games and techniques to getting and maintaining focus while training OR showing!


DebbyQ’s Picks

Here are a few really great “dog” items I use in everyday life and in training.
Click on the link or image and it will take you to affiliate Amazon.