Focus Fun August Week 1

Dealing with easily aroused dog, especially in a class situation?

Page LinksMonthly ChallengeSlow HandTransitionsDIGLine-UpsCheck-UpsPDF Files

Monthly Drill – Redirect 2 Win

Dealing with easily aroused dogs, especially in a class situation?

The Revv/Settle Game is something I teach all puppies. It teaches my dog to go into a calm state (Settle) and remain focused on me when there are distractions around. I reward my dog a lot while he is on the Settle as well as Revving up when distractions are near.

Over time, releasing when or if my dog becomes distracted teaches him that there is more fun watching me than others. Pairing distractions with something he loves, Tug, builds the focus on me. I spend loads of time teaching and maintaining this skill.  This skill has already been taught in class.

Redirect 2 Win is another skill I use and a great way to deal with reactive or over stimulated dogs. It is your monthly challenge.  Even if you do not have a reactive dog, this is a skill I will always teach my dogs.   It is great to have if my dog reacts to anything, noises, children, etc.   It is a Must Have drill!

Challenge for August

Redirect/WIN is an easy way to redirect your dog from a distracting situation.

It also helps to teach your dog to focus on you when there is a distraction.   In addition, this is great if your dog reacts in a negative manner to barking dogs or sounds.  Simply do Redirect/WIN.  This skill can take you a long way.


  • Start teaching your dog in a low distraction area such as your home.
  • Get your dog, a leash, and some yummy treats.
  • With your dog on leash, walk around.  We want to start with no distractions to teach the proper response.
  • When your dog is busy sniffing or looking at something interesting, say your “come” command, take a few steps back and away from your dog.
  • When your dog comes to you, place your hand in his collar and muzzle, ask your dog to sit, and feed him several treats.
  • I use the hand on muzzle for the dogs that attempt to look at distraction over their shoulder.  Condition the muzzle hold by taking muzzle gently and then rewarding.  Repeat until the dog is comfortable with the process.
  • Release your dog from the sit and move around a bit.
  • Always reinforce this command by praising your dog as they move toward you.  Feed your dog high value treats when they get to you and while they are in a sit.

Video Notes: Poe and I are working on the Redirect2Win skill. He has done this in a limited capacity before but this makes a great review.  As we walk around my garage, I ask him to “come” when he gets distracted, and then take his collar with my left hand and muzzle with my right. I praise and then feed him a few treats with my right hand for effort.


Redirect 2 Win aug week1

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

This is our last week of Slow Hand skill BUT never fear, you need to continue to train this as there will be a pop up test coming up!   HaHaHa.   This week we are adding new locations is our last step and makes a great review.

Your Task for August Week 1

Slow Hand – New Locations slow hand

New Location Reminder!  Always play and engage BEFORE beginning to train.  If your dog can’t readily play, the location is too distracting to work on NEW skills.   If your dog has trouble engaging with you, abort your training plans.  Try to move away from distractions as you continue to try to get your dog to engage.   Once your dog is engaged, load back in vehicle and look for a lower distracting area to continue Slow Hand training

  • Go to a new low distraction location.
  • Ask your dog to sit/down/stand and move a few feet in front of your dog.
  • Start to slowly deliver a treat from in front of your dog.
  • As you bring the treat slowly to your dog, give your dog verbal feedback to let them know if they are right or wrong.
  • Release your dog from the position after delivering a treat, use your release word and play or engage with your dog.  This is his time for a mental break.
  • Repeat the sequence leaving your dog and delivering a treat from above your dog.
  • Occasionally release with a Jump to Hand to keep your dog in an “active” state.

Remember this is where your dog learns that movement makes the treat go away!

Video Notes: Poe and I have gone to a New Location to practice our Slow Hand training. He was doing really well until the end of the session when he started coming up off his elbows as we were practicing while he was in a down. I withdrew treat hand quickly, but had to repeat the withdrawal a few times before Poe showed understanding. Eventually, Poe did steady but this is something we will need to continue to practice.


Slow Hand – New Locations ug week1

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Moving Backward is my FAVORITE transition game.  First, it is a great way to warm up your dog before training or showing.   Backing up also helps to keep your dog’s focus on you, is an easy way to get through the crowds, AND it is fun!

What You Need

  • 2 leashes.
  • Soft treats that your dog loves.
  • Low distracting location like your living room, a hall, etc.

This will teach your dog how to walk backward in front of you, while you walk forward.  Be careful not to go too far, too fast when teaching backing up!  This is a difficult skill for many dogs, so take your time and use a lot of rewards.

Your Task for August Week 1

Backing – Introduction – One step

  • I like using 2 leashes that are attached to my dog’s collar.  I put one leash in each hand.  This helps me to encourage my dog to move to the right or left to maintain being in front of me.
  • Attach both leashes to one collar with the clip under the dog’s chin or if using 2 collars attach one leash to each collar with one on each side of the dog.
  • Keep your arms and hands close to your side and your feet pointed toward your dog.
  • Begin with your dog standing in front of you, and focusing on your face.
  • NOTE: hanging a visible treat from your mouth will help your dog focus on your face.
  • Take one step towards your dog.
  • Praise your dog for ANY movement or for stepping back.
  • Reward your dog for movement while he is standing rather than sitting.

Problem – When teaching the backing up, your dog moves  to the right or left instead of backing up straight:

  • Have a barrier on the ground to prevent the sideways movement Use something like gutters, a broad jump board, shrubs, etc.  Make sure the height of the barriers is below your dog’s elbow.  Backing your dog down a hallway is very helpful to begin BUT wean to a lower barrier as quickly as possible.
  • Use two leashes on your dog.  Attach 2 leashes to your dog’s collar.  With your arms at your side, hold the end of a leash in each hand.  Give slight pops, or tension with your right or left hand to adjust your dog’s lateral movement.  If your dog moves to your right, pop/tension the leash in your left hand and vice versa.
  • If your dog tries to sit, don’t stop moving, rather keep walking straight into your dog.  He will stand up and move to get out of your way.  Praise and reward any motion your dog offers.

Video Notes:  Poe is learning how to back in this video.   Two (2) leashes are put on him and treats for spitting in my mouth.   I take one (1) step toward him and praise and spit a treat as he backs up.   At this level I do not worry too much if he goes off to one side or another.  Pressure can be applied to the leash side opposite to the side he goes off to if I want.   Poe is off to a great start.


Transitions-Moving Backwards ug week1

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

This is the last week of DIG work but never fear you will see it again later in this class so continue to  work on the skill a few reps in EVERY training session.  If there were only ONE thing I would work on, it WOULD be DIG!

This week set up or use different objects to walk toward and or pass.  Be imaginative with the objects you use.  The more different you use the more your dog will generalize the behavior.  If you can walk into the ring with focus, you have a positive beginning to a great performance.

Your Task for August Week 1

DIG – Proofing

  • Start to walk/heel slowly towards 2 objects at random spacing between.
  • Release and reward your dog as you approach, get between or move through the opening.
  • REMINDER: if your dog notices or looks at an opening, YOU ARE TOO CLOSE and not rewarding enough at a distance.
  • Keep your rewards hidden until you break into a fun game and repeat until your dog is confident.
  • The GOAL is to reward your dog many times once you have entered or gone through the opening.
  • While training, mix up rewarding how you reward and randomly reward on the approach or between the opening.
  • This is a crucial part of your showing later.  Spend loads of time and don’t be in a rush to go “through” the opening.  It is your dog’s focus and attitude you are seeking.
  • As a last step, once you are through entry, occasionally practice your Leash O/O.

Proofing against distractions is a lengthy process. Do not rush or take shortcuts.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog constantly drops his head as you are approaching or going through an entrance.  Work on upward releases BEFORE you get to the opening you are walking towards.  Make it fun to approach and rewarding to look at you when you are approaching something.
  • Your dog looks worried or concerned about going through an opening.  Use games to reward your dog BEFORE or AS you go through the opening.  Also, use many different types of openings so that your dog will generalize the behavior.
This drill is all about the journey and not the destination.  

Video Notes:  DIG is one of my FAVORITE skills!  Sly and I demonstrate training going towards a ring opening.  On the third repetition Sly actually gives me more focus.   That heightened focus is the only reason I continued to heel through the gate.  It was Sly’s cue to me that he was ready for the next step.  Videotaping your training is extremely helpful in pinpointing this heightened focus. 

Next, Sly and I heel towards two tires.  This still represents an “entrance”.   Notice the extra play we do after a great effort from Sly.  We use a variety of Heeling Games as a reward.  No matter what we use as a barrier, Sly gives the same effort.  This shows me he is starting to “generalize” the concept. 

Lastly, we work on actually going into a ring entrance and lining-up for an exercise.  HaHaHa.   I even throw in some Leash on/off and One-Way Focus work too.


DIG-Proofing ug week1

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

A Line-Up is the act of moving with your dog from point A to point B and is the start of making a great ring performance.  So this is a skill we want to build DESIRE and make a habit.

The Line-Up usually concludes with your dog sitting/standing/downing at your right or left side depending on the venue you will show.  The performance of an exercise, run, or skill typically follows a “Line-Up.”   Examples:  Going into a ring and asking your dog to sit at a start line, or moving from the heeling exercise to a figure 8 exercise.

A fast, focused Line-Up will accomplish a few things.

  • It will enable you to move effortlessly into and around a ring.
  • Will keep your dog focused and relaxed.
  • Makes a great first impression with the judge, after all it looked great!  :>)

What you will need

  • Toys and treats.
  • Leash.
  • A dog eager to train.

Your Task for August Week 1

Learning a right and or left position cue.

  • Ask your dog to sit and step next to your dog with him on your right or left side.line ups week 1
  • Take a step forward, leaving your dog on a sit.
  • I use a lure ONLY for the first few repetitions.
  • Encourage your dog to come to your right or left side.
  • I use the command “close” for the left side, and “right” for my right side.  Hahaha.  I like simple.  :>)
  • Praise and reward your dog while he is next to you.
  • Once my dog knows how to move up to your side, add a “sit” once your dog comes up next to you.  The sit becomes a HABIT.
  • NOTE: I use my hand close to my dog to show and position where I want his head.  This is used if needed and is weaned off once the habit is built or if I need to remind my dog later when training.  Karrde liked to lean out to look at me, so I do use this with him and it helps create a HABIT of the position.
  • Once your dog is confident getting to your right or left from behind you, begin having your dog line-up from different angles. Start with slight angles and build as your dog gains confidence.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Moving your shoulder will make an impact on finishes later if showing in Obedience/Rally.  The movement of your shoulder will affect the “finish” line.  This is what your dog sees as he goes into a finish and is reviewed in my “Fronts & Finishes” class.
  • Not rewarding enough when teaching and throughout the dog’s career.  Make getting next to you fun by building a history of rewards every time your dog lines up.   Even randomly reward during your dog’s career.
  • Your dog’s rear ends up butt out.  When first starting to teach line-ups, I do not overly concern myself with my dog’s rear position.  When I add a leash, tension on the leash will help my dog learn rear end position.  Also, teaching rear end awareness aids in the process.  See my “Turns” class.
  • Your dog loses focus when lining-up on either your right or left side.  Get your dog focus before you attempt to do a Line-Up.  Add in a consequence and play BEFORE you ask your dog to sit.  Make being next to you rewarding and fun.
Always give your dog “brain breaks” when working on precision.  Break with a great game of tug or the KrazyKookie Game.

Video Notes: Poe Is learning how to Line-Up in this video.   Each repetitions, Poe is put in a sit and I take a step in front of him.  I release him to Line-Up next to me and at my side.  We work off both my right and left sides.   In the video, Poe line-up with his butt out and away from me when on my right side.  I show how I scoop my hand with the treat and Poe quickly starts sitting straighter.  Poe is understand his job well.  

Video Notes: Karrde is working on Line-Ups in this video.  We are still building his DESIRE to get into the position.  First, I use a treat to lure him next to me and start to build reward history.  Once he has been rewarded a few times, treats are no longer in my hand. 

Then we start having him get into position from different distances, angles, and positions.  While we have done Line-Ups before, he has never done one from a down position.  What a GREAT training opportunity!  I continue to use my hand as a target, BUT do not move it around.

In the next clip, Karrde is working at more extreme angles. I do encourage and help where needed but I try to keep any “help” to a minimum.  The less I use, the easier to wean off later!  Karrde did not give me effort in his attempt to get next to me.  The consequence was a negative marker and a push out of the way.  He understands my communication with him and gives loads more effort.


Line Ups ug week1

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

How are YOU doing?

Revv/Settle – This valuable tool is important to work on a bit in every training session.   It is useful when waiting your turn to go into the ring too.  HOW and WHERE are you using the Revv/Settle skill?

Post some examples on the Facebook group!

RSG – These games are a must!  Are you using these games in every training session when leaving your dog?  What percentage of games are you using opposed to practicing a sequence?    Are you seeing your dog stay in an “active” state?

Post results on the Facebook group!

Questions? Ask DebbyQ