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.

Please leave comments or email me with future article ideas at Ask DebbyQ. 

Visit my Youtube and watch training videos at https://www.youtube.com/@DebbyQuigley

Make a PLAN!

What’s a training plan, and how do I make one?

Before you start training a skill, you need to make a training plan.

The key to successful dog training is in the planning.  The following is a step by step method to aid you in developing a training plan for a skill you would like to train or one you are currently training yet hitting a wall of problems.

Make it EASY

Take your time to think through and analyze each step.  Concentrate on one skill at first.  Get use to organizing and planning.  As you go through this program with each skill you want to teach your dog, you will find planning a training program will become easier.

Do you have trouble organizing a training plan?

The first step is to describe the skill, and set your criteria.  The more detailed the plan, the better your results.  What will the finished skill look like?

The second step is to evaluate where you currently are.  If this is a brand new skill, you are starting from the first step.  If this is a skill you have been working on, evaluate the skill.  Keeping records will tell you what your dog is doing reliably and what still needs improving.

The final step is to make a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.  Start with the skill.  Break it into responses, and shape it to the perfection you are looking to achieve.

As you train, keep your training plans handy for tracking your progress. Periodically review your training plan, and revise the definition of the final behavior, if necessary. Don’t stop working on the skill until your dog performs the skill to match your criteria in step one.

Please leave comments or email me with future article ideas at Ask DebbyQ. 

Visit my Youtube and watch training videos at https://www.youtube.com/@DebbyQuigley

Click here to find out about my Online training Classes, Agility, Obedience, and Rally

Getting ready for National Event?

I am often asked “how do I get ready for a National event?”

A few months before the event, my training sessions start to consist of My Training 3’s.

  • 1 skill, review foundation – example-pick up dumbbell up close, drop/back/down games, etc.
  • 1 skill, build desire – example – adding games to the Broad Jump like the toss back as dog lands or while he is on his sit.
  • 1 skill, proof – example – adding distraction, training new locations, etc.

Pick 3 exercises or skills and do 3’s training.  This would be the entire training session.  Short and sweet.    

Reminder that there are many SKILLS in every exercise or sequence. It is important to write a list of ALL skills in every exercise or sequence you want to train with your dog.   Once you have all the skills written out, make sure that you build desire, precision, and proof all the skills.  This will help ensure your success when you show.

Please leave comments or email me with future article ideas at Ask DebbyQ. 

Visit my Youtube and watch training videos at https://www.youtube.com/@DebbyQuigley

Decide WHAT you want to Accomplish BEFORE you Grab your DOG!

Before you begin to train,
consider exactly what you want to train.
What do you want to accomplish during your training session?

For example if you are training or reviewing a sit with your dog, consider the following questions:

  • How will you cue the command?  Will you give your dog a verbal or physical cue or both?
  • How long should your dog sit?  Should he just sit and then stand up, or should he remain in the sit until given a release word?
  • What does the command “sit” mean to you?  Does it mean a rock or tuck sit?  Should your dog remain in the position until told differently?
  • Do you want the dog to sit in front of you?  Sit next to you?  Or should your dog just sit where he is, no matter where you are, or what you are doing?
  • What will you do if your dog sits slowly or not at all?  Will you mark and correct?  Or will you give another command?
  • Will you be sequencing the sit with other skills?  Which ones if so?
  • How will you reward the sit if done well?  Go to your dog and give a reward?  Toss a toy or treat to your dog?  Will you break into a game to reward?
  • Are you going to start proofing the sit with your dog?  If so, what will you do?  Will you add distractions to the training environment?  Will you go to a new location?  How distracting do you want the session?

All these questions are important, because you need to be able to be pro-active in your training with consequences as well as rewards.
Being able to respond quickly and be prepared for what might happen, will give you the upper hand with your training and help you become consistent with your cues and criteria.


Please leave comments or email me with future article ideas at Ask DebbyQ. 

Visit my Youtube and watch training videos at https://www.youtube.com/@DebbyQuigley


Do you want to be successful when showing?

When starting to establish goals, one of the first items on your agenda will be to set goals for both you and your dog.

The old adage, “there are only so many hours in a day” holds true when you are making both short and long term goals.  You will have to decide exactly how much time and effort you are willing to devote to training.  The results of your efforts and time spent will be reflected in your dog’s ability to learn and execute skills consistently.

Goal-setting is a powerful method for achievement as it provides a way to view objectives and changes. Goals can be set for daily, weekly, monthly or yearly target dates. Setting goals focuses attention to the important aspects of the mission. The key to setting effective goals is to create objective goals that can be measured and give direction.

The following will help you set YOUR goals:

  • Ask yourself what you want to work toward and achieve. Goals need to be in your control, challenging yet realistic and positive. Positive goals direct what to do rather than what not to do!
  • Effective goals are very specific.  The clearer the objective the easier to imagine and obtain.
  • Use short-term goals to help reach long-term goals. Short-term goals can provide more motivation since they are more readily achievable and make great stepping stones.
  • Effective goals are limited in number and important to you. Setting a limited number of goals requires that you decide what is the most useful for your continued development. Establishing a few, carefully selected goals also allow you to keep accurate records without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Set specific Time Lines. Target dates have a tendency to remove lighthearted ideas and clarify what goals are realistic and which are not.
  • Create action steps. These steps are going to help you achieve your goal and will define the actions you need to take to reach your goals. The number of action steps depends on the goals you set.
  • Write down your goals and post them in places where they will be seen throughout the day. Place a sticky note on the fridge or your bathroom mirror or an index card in your training bag or car. Visual cues will increase the likelihood you will achieve your goal.
  • Track your progress. Use a notebook, calendar, or anything you can log information so you can monitor your progress. Writing down and reviewing your progress will help you stay motivated and repeatedly remind you of where you were and how far you have come.
  • When asked to set goals, many people typically focus on the learning of new skills or performances in competitions. Goals can cover many aspects of your training, showing or life. Some goal examples might include, improve fitness, increase mental toughness, or establish better timing and consistency.

When carefully thought out and written, goals give direction and tell us what we need in order to accomplish our dreams.  Establishing goals also helps obtain information and ways for how to achieve the goals.


Please leave comments or email me with future article ideas at Ask DebbyQ. 

Visit my Youtube and watch training videos at https://www.youtube.com/@DebbyQuigley

Nail Day!

nail-day-photoNail trimming is an important part of a regular grooming routine. If your dog’s nails get too long, they can break, which is painful and can result in an infection. Long nails also cause an irregular gait that leads to skeletal damage. Despite its importance, many people don’t like to trim their dog’s nails. When you get a new puppy, teaching him/her that nail day is FUN is important.

Here is a classic nail day and how to start your puppy off on the right foot.

First, always make sure your puppy has had a good run before doing nails.  A tired puppy is more likely to relax while doing his/her nails.  Also, have some great extra special treats that you can feed your puppy/dog while trimming his nails.

Soft treats like Zukes are great because they are tasty, break apart easily, and are easy to eat for any sized dog.  Click on the bag and it will take you to Amazon Affiliate where I am an affiliate.

Second, you need to have a good pair of nail trimmers or a Dremel.  I like using a Dremel tool to smooth the edges.


Here is an example of a great set of cutters – I prefer this type as they are easy for me to hold in my hand.  Click on clipper image to take you to Amazon Affiliate. They have these as well as many other varieties.

And a Dremel tool that I LOVE! The battery lasts a long time, the Dremel is relatively quite and it is easy to use.

Now you are all set to trim those nails.

Get all your equipment together before you start:  trimmer, Dremel, and treats.  I prefer to sit on the floor and have my puppy between my legs with his feet up in the air.

  • Feed your puppy a treat.
  • While he is eating the treat, trim a nail. Do not worry about how short the nail is, just trim a bit so he gets use to the feeling. Note: see the photo for the angle to cut the nail.
  • Trim one nail at a time and give a treat each time before you trim.
  • If your puppy is remaining still, repeat the above with the Dremel and lightly touch each nail as you feed your puppy between each repetition.

NOTE: if your puppy becomes wiggly, trim one foot each day until your puppy is compliant and still.

If you have multiple dogs, gather the same tools and treats before starting to trim any nails.  Having multiple dogs can be of benefit while teaching nail trimming.

  • Start by letting your puppy watch your other dogs get their nails cut.
  • Feed treats only to the dog that is getting his/her nails cut. This is also a great opportunity to reward the dog getting his feet done.
  • If your puppy tries to get in the way or steal the treats, gently push him aside and continue your work.
  • Once it is time to do your puppy’s nails, give him/her a treat and cut the nail. Give a treat and cut a next nail and so on until all the nails are done.
  • If your puppy struggles or shows signs of stress, start off with one nail on each foot or only one foot a day.
  • All in all, the process is simple and will condition your puppy to LOVE nail day.
  • Once your puppy excepts nail cutting, gradually wean off feeding treats for every toe to every other toe and then each foot.

Introduce the Dremel once your puppy is accepting of his nails getting cut. Dremel your dog’s nails the same way as you did the nail trimming, with a treat then doing a nail.

Nails need to be trimmed once a week.

Doing nails can be an easy job for you and actually become very rewarding for your puppy/dog.  Take your time and associate the nail trimming with something good that your puppy/dog enjoys.

Here is a close up of doing nails.

Nails UP!

Please ask questions or leave comments below.


Many times, I hear, “my dog works great as long as I have treats” or “my dog knows when I have treats and will not work with the same enthusiasm.”

One of my SECRETS, and a skill that is a must for all trainers, is the ability to play one on one with your dog.  Play in this context means, interacting with your dog WITHOUT any toys or treats present.

The one-on-one connection and fun are one of the best ways to reward your dog.  Examples can be anything from petting and praising your dog, or running around laughing, or using transition games that your dog loves, or clapping your hands and praising your dog, or getting down on the floor and rolling around with your dog.  Hahahaha.  Actually, I do get on the ground to play with my puppies, not so much with my older dogs, BUT I do often interact with my older dogs, so they are used to having fun with me without toys or treats present.  Use one or any combination.  Have FUN with your dog!

The key to having a dog that will work for you, and not the reward, is as simple as playing with your dog!

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Training your dog can be very rewarding yet still an incredibly frustrating experience. 

It is especially difficult if you have no past experience in dog training.

If you are having trouble in your quest to have a well-trained dog, this article will give you five tips to help you train your pet.

1. Begin training your dog as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more fixed your dog’s bad habits become.

2. Pay attention to when your dog has to go to the bathroom. They usually have to go within minutes of eating, waking or playing. Take them outside and praise them when they go potty outside.

3. Crate train. Use your crate in a place you can put your dog for times you can’t watch him. Give a great bone for your dog to chew while he is in the crate to keep him busy and happy.

4. Socialize your new puppy as much as possible. Introduce them to new environments and people so that they will be a well-adjusted adult.

5. Never train your dog when you are upset. If you need a smile, try training a trick. You will be surprised at how it will turn around your day!

Of course there is much more to training your pet than this but these five tips will get you well on your way to having a well-trained dog.