Focus Fun April Week 2

The key to successful dog training is in the planning.

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Topic – Make a Training 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. 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.

Before you begin to train, consider exactly what you want to train.   What do you want to accomplish?

For example if you’re training your dog to sit, consider the following questions:

  • How will you cue the command?  Will you give your dog a verbal or physical cue or both?
  • How will you build DESIRE in the sit?  Will you say sit and immediately release your dog to a game of tug?  Will you reward your dog while on the sit and then release for a game?
  • 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 sit mean to you?  Does it mean to sit until released?
  • Do you want your dog to sit in front of you?  Or just to 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?

All these questions are important, because you need to be able to be pro-active in your training. 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.

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.  You can write a plan for a skill you would like to train, or one you are currently training yet hitting a wall or problems.  Take your time to think through and analyze each step.

Over the years, I have used a variety of ways to keep my training notes.  I have found making notes after a training session very useful.  It helps me to analyze training, note if I need to change or modify, and make a plan for the next session.  Before you start training a skill, take time to make a training plan.  This is the FIRST STEP to future success.

What you can use:

  • IPhone or cell phone with apps – I keep a running email that has all my notes in it.  Add to, and send to myself daily.
  • Spiral book – this can be purchased in various sizes, colors, and shapes.
  • Printed training log. I have included one for you.  Print as many pages as you need. :>)

Training booklet PDF

Concentrate on one skill at first.  Get use to organizing and planning.  You will find that planning for training will become easier as you work your way through the program.

Take your time and visualize your idea of perfection on the chosen skill.  You must be able to visualize each skill exactly as you want it to be performed. This way you can train the skill for what you see.  Each person’s picture will be different.  What is important, is that you see your perfect picture, and that you strive for that picture in training sessions.

Let’s get going on your training plan!   Grab a notebook :>)

Pick a skill.

The first step is to pick and describe a skill, and set your criteria.  The more detailed your description is, the better your results will be.

  • What will the finished skill look like?   Write a detailed description.  The more detailed the BETTER!
  • Now, determine what steps make up that skill?  Break the skill into as many pieces as possible.  Write down those steps.
  • Finally, what is your criteria for the skill and each step?  Again, write down your criteria.  The Devil is in the DETAILS!

NEXT, assess where your dog is in training with the skill you have chosen.

  • Evaluate where your dog’s training is currently.
  • 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, and the level your dog is at in training.
  • Keep records while you train.
  • This will tell you what your dog is doing reliably, and what still needs improving.
  • Write down where your dog is in his training.

Finally, analyze and plan the steps you still need to train.   Make sure you add games and motivation to all training plans.

  • Write the steps for the skill in your training log.  Break your training into small steps, and work towards the perfection you are looking to achieve.
  • Where are you currently in the steps you have listed?  Make a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Make notes as soon as you put your dog up after a training session.
  • Review your training plan regularly, and revise when necessary.
  • Continue working on the individual steps until your dog performs the skill/steps to match your criteria.

Here is an example of how I will make a training session plan.

The Skill I will pick for this session is the Sit.  I will be writing this training session for Karrde, my youngster.

My Criteria – Tuck sit, front feet planted and rear moving to forward, his head up and focused on me.  When asking for a sit, I expect him to be in the sit by the time the “T” comes out of my mouth.  Sit also implies Karrde will remain in place until released and stay in an “active” state.

Where Karrde is at in the sit skill. – Karrde knows how to sit to my criteria most of the time.  I would like to improve his knowledge that he must remain in position and build desire so he will remain in an active state until released.

My Planned Training Session.

  • First, I will pick a low to moderately distracting location.
  • I will ask Karrde to sit, and leave a short distance.  This will be a good test.  If he remains in place for 5 seconds, I will toss a treat to him (RSG Game) or go back to him and deliver rewards, and then release him.
  • Next, Karrde will be in a sit.  This time, I will walk away from him and count to 10.  If he starts to shift or move, I will give him a negative marker, walk into him immediately, and place him back on a sit.  If he stays in a sit, I will again praise and throw or go back and reward.
  • The next time to leave, I will immediately break into a RSG game a few steps from him.  This is keep him in an active state.
  • Since I want to test him, on the next repetition, I will leave him a short distance and move around for a brief time, 5 seconds.  If he stays in a sit, I will again praise and throw or go back and reward.  If he starts to shift or move, I will mark it, walk into him immediately, and place him back on a sit and the repeat process with my movement.

This will be my next session with Karrde.  NOTE, that I added different types of releases and games, as well as a progression of the skill.  These short notations in my training log will keep me on the road to success when training Karrde.

NOW it is your tun.  Pick a skill, make a plan, and post on the Facebook group!

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Monthly Challenge Progression – Meal Time for Training – Progression

We are growing your training at meal time.   Why not use this time to build desire and focus on skills.

Mealtimes are great opportunities for us, the trainers, to get in additional training.   As a wise trainer, it is our job to utilize regular meals to train and test our dogs.

This month’s challenge will take you through my routine meal progression in my non-routine way.

  1. Review – Dog waits until I place food on the ground. Haha, with a focus twist.  That he has to look at me before getting a release cue to eat.
  2. For this week, you will be placing the fixed food bowl on the counter, I will move away from bowl and ask for a simple skill.  Such as a sit OR down OR spin.  Do a repetition or two until your dog does the skill and stays focused on you.  I will get the bowl and yes, my dog then needs to focus on me (I do not use the wait word instead I will wait him out) until food bowl is on floor and he is given a release cue.

More Next Week….

Video Notes:  We are increasing the difficulty with meal time training in this video.  Poe is being asked to sit a few times while his bowl is on the counter.  The first effort to sit wasn’t great which is why I wanted to repeat the skill.   Also, he offered the sit and focus, I didn’t ask for it.


Meal Challenge -Adding a Skill Checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Using the RSG Games (Ready, Set, Go) in your training will enhance your dog’s focus, increase your dog’s “active” state when in a stationary position, and become a great tool to increase focus when proofing.  Also, RSG games are wonderful to help build your dog’s desire to remain engaged while you are leaving, turning to face, or calling your dog.

Goal – To continue to teach and build focus and desire with your dog by adding the new game as you are leaving your dog.  Once your dog knows a game, mix and match them while training.

What do you do when your dog loses focus or becomes inactive?   Why not add a consequence if your dog looks away from you or becomes “inactive”.  Break into a RSG Game, but don’t let your dog get the reward of the game.  Tease and taunt your dog with the reward.  Let your dog think he might get the reward, instead pretend to eat or play with the toy yourself.  Be theatrical and have fun without your dog.  This will make your dog want it even more.  After, repeat the skill and reward your dog IF he gives more effort and focus.  Simplify the exercise if needed to make sure that your dog understands and is rewarded for focusing on you.

Your Task for April Week 2

RSG Game Reminder

  • When leaving your dog, your treats need to be in your right or left hand and hidden from your dog.
  • If you throw treats, throw only one treat at a time, and use treats that will not break apart.
  • INSIST your dog return to you FAST!   This is a MUST!
  • As soon as your dog returns to you, reward him by praising and playing a GREAT game of tug, or the “KrazyKookie” Game.
  • Make it FUN and rewarding to get back to you.  This will increase your dog’s desire to RUN when coming back to you.
  • Work with your dog on your right side if you do a sport that requires your dog to line up on your right side.
  • Do NOT advertise that you are going to play a game or that your dog is going to get a treat or toy!
RSG games can be used during recalls, signals, broad jumps, start line stay, the table as well as contacts and more!  Mix and match which games you use and keep your dog guessing what you will do next.

Game 6: Jump UP –  for toy/treat, with your back to your dog.

  • Tell your dog to sit.
  • Walk away a few steps from your dog.
  • With your BACK to your dog, bring your right/left hand out while you looking over the same shoulder and present a toy or treat to your dog.
  • Tell your dog to “get it” without turning around or stopping.
  • You are just looking over/under your shoulder.
  • Once your dog grabs the toy or treat, play a game of tug OR the KrazyKookie Game.
  • Balance your training by going back and rewarding your dog’s sit periodically.

Video Notes: Poe is learning the RSG game 6 at the start of the video. There are 2 sessions with him. In the first section, I am rewarding his stay as well as playing the RSG game. In training, I like to keep a balance of self-control and building desire.

Next is Karrde.  I LOVE his focus, but again am not pleased that he is not coming back to me quicker to play.  Riker follows in the clip.  He does a nice job overall.  Note his forward posture and ears.  He is ready to go!  Sly is in the last scene.  He is a pro at these games.  See how he stays in an active state, ears and eyes on me, and how he grabs the toy and gets back to me quickly.  GOOD Boy SLY!


RSG 6 Jump Up Checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Bumping Up our COME to our Balance list.   This will start to test my dog’s knowledge and build his confidence and reliability by adding 1 skill.

Goal – To continue to build “balance” to your dog by going to a crate or bed while adding NEW skills to the mix.  This drill is also great self-control skill.

Reminder – The most important thing to teaching a RELIABLE Come command, is building your dog’s desire, and the HABIT of always coming to you.

What you need

  • A crate or bed.
  • A dog that will go to a crate/bed from a distance.
  • Soft treats your dog enjoys.

Your Task for April Week 2

FUNdamentals Balance COME – Bump Up

  • Have your dog and bed in a low distraction location.   
  • Review going to bed and coming before you bump up the skill. Stand with your dog close to the bed.
  • Send your dog to his bed.
  • Toss a treat on the bed to reward your dog.
  • Release your dog by giving your “come” command.
  • Once your dog is reliably going to the bed and coming back to you, add a skill (sit) either going to bed or coming back to you.
  • I like to add sit as I find dogs do better at this skill easier.
  • Praise and feed your dog a number of treats, one after another for successful attempts.
  • Repeat the sequence a few times building distance only once your dog is going to the bed and coming back to you on your “come” command and occasionally adding a sit.
  • NOTE:  your dog should stay with you once you let go of his collar if conditioning AND should not go back to the bed unless you have sent him.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Giving a recall command AS your dog is leaving the bed.  I.e., you had not called him until after the fact.  Sometime a dog will anticipate coming to you.  If your dog does leave the bed before released, place him back on his bed.  NO second commands.
  • Hand feeding treats when your dog is on the bed.   Resist feeding your dog when he is on the bed.  Tossing the treat onto the bed rewards the bed itself, plus it enables you to get more distance.
  • Not backing up making sure the dog sits.  If your dog knows a sit and doesn’t, make sure you add a consequence.  What you add will totally depend on the level of the dogs training.

Video Notes: Poe and I are Bumping Up going to bed. Since he has never done this before, we will first review going to and coming back for the bed. He is rewarded and once I see he is confident, we start to Bump Up the skill by adding a sit. The first repetition he did not sit. No big deal. He is chastised and the we repeat. Yah! Success, what a good boy. Note the he is not asked to sit every time he comes or goes to the bed. Instead, I mix up when and where or if the sit is added.

Video Notes: Riker and Karrde are working on BALANCE in this video. Riker is first and has done this drill before. I test his knowledge by backing up as I call and sit him as well as walking past him while he remains on his “SIT”. Once Riker broke his sit before released. As a consequence, I gave him a negative marker, and we retried the skill. At marker 1.45, Riker was eating treats on his bed when I called him. He SHOULD have come and not continued to snack. I marked the behavior and again retried the skill, giving loads of praise for his correct effort. Overall, Riker did a great job. I LIKE my dogs to be wrong occasionally, that way I can show them HOW to be correct. :>)  

Karrde is next and much newer to this drill. I was pleasantly surprised with his effort. He is challenged with a number of variations and seemed to really enjoy the drill and challenge. He did sit a bit slower than usual, and I will keep an eye on that in future sessions. He has a LOT of value for his crate which is off to the left of the video. To balance him, I reward more at me and will add in tugging in the future to build more value staying with me.


Balance – Come – Adding a skill Checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Watch2Win – The progressions of this game will teach your dog to remain engaged with you for increasingly longer periods of time.  In addition, this game teaches your dog how to “Turn On” the opportunity to earn rewards.

Goal – To continue to build our dog’s focus even when we are in an inactive state.

Your Task for April Week 2

Progression – Slight Turn Away

  • Be in a low distraction location.
  • Put several treats in your mouth or in your hands at your sides.
  • While your dog is looking at your face, praise, reward and restart by tossing a treat away from you.
  • Tell your dog to get the tossed treat.
  • As your dog is going to get the tossed treat, slightly turn away from your dog.
  • The movement away will make it harder for your dog to “find your face.”
  • REMINDER – KEEP YOU FACE IN YOUR SPACE and let your dog do the work!  LOOK where you want your dog to be!
  • DO NOT give your dog any verbal or physical cues.  We want your dog to offer to look for your face.
  • When your dog makes eye contact, praise, feed or spit your dog a treat.
  • If handing your dog treats, DELIVER the treat CLOSE to your body.  He MUST come close to you to get the reward.
  • RESTART the game, toss a treat away from you, tell your dog to get the tossed treat, slightly turn away again and wait for your dog to come back to you and focus on your face.
  • Praise and reward when he makes eye contact.
  • At this level, it is important for you to keep your face in your space, i.e. your face should be pointing in the same direction as your shoulders and LOOK where your dog SHOULD be.
  • When you are finished training, give your dog a “release” word, but stay engaged with your dog as you put him in a crate.
  • Use tugging, or clapping and talking to keep my dog focused on me as he goes into a crate.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog drops his head or looks away when taking a step back.  Point to your face or hold the treat in your hand next to your face.  Make sure your training area is not distracting.
  • Your dog does not try to re-engage when you pivot away.  Take a smaller movement away to give your dog a chance to be correct.  If he still does not give effort, end your session, put your dog in a crate and try again later in the day.  Many times a dog needs time to THINK about what he is expected to offer.
  • Lack of EFFORT?  If your dog loses focus or does not give effort, abruptly turn away from your dog and abort the repetition.  Wait to see if he will re-engage with you.

Video Notes: Poe did so well on Find My Face, we added in a slight turn. OMG. He gives great effort but I do feel my input and loads of treats defiantly kept him moving in the correct direction. We will send a few more sessions on this step before progressing.

Video Notes: This video is another training session with Karrde.  At the start of the video, we review Find My Face with Karrde which earns him rewards.  Karrde WINS! 

Bad mom, I notice in the video that I was only giving him treats from my right hand.  In future sessions I will be more aware of rewarding out of each hand and close to my body.

To restart the game, I simply tossed a treat out in front of me.  When Karrde returned to me and made eye contact, he wins again.  To progress his training, I test his willingness to make eye contact by slightly moving away from where I toss the restart treat.

Before you get your dog out to train, get out all of your rewards (treats/toys) and put them in your pockets or somewhere on your body.  Rewards (treats and/or toys) need to be a SURPRISE.


Watch2Win – Slightly Turning Checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ