Focus Fun August Week 2

Training Tip and image ..

first of month – challenge instead of topic

goal is 4 skill topics per week

Page LinksTopicMonthly Drill ProgressionTransitionsLine-UpsZero SecondtitlePDF Files

Topic –

Topic – 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.
Lastly, the W2W Game is an awesome skill that builds my dog’s ability to focus on me. When I start teaching this to my dog, I reward my dog a lot for looking at my face. Over time, duration staring at me is added along with distractions to test his ability. As you can see in the photo to the right, Sly understands his job and has been staring at me for some time when this photo was taken.
Redirect 2 Win. A great way to deal with reactive or over stimulated dogs, It is taught this week.
Lastly, go back and review the Get It Game. Many people overlook the value and intent of this game. The Get IT Game teaches and builds the HABIT of running out, grabbing, and running back. Many trainers miss the finer points of this skill. Click here, Get It Game, to learn all about how to do this game correctly.
The most important thing for you to remember is, it takes TIME, PRACTICE, and PATIENCE to teach and get the focus I have with my dogs. I have trained all sorts of dogs and temperaments and ALL had the focus you see in the photo of Sly. You TOO can DO IT!

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Monthly Drill Progression

warm ups




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Transitions – backing – zig zag


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LINE-UP GAMES – Once my dog has learned a Line-Up, it’s MY job to keep them fun!  As a rule, use games at least seventy-five (75) percent of the time when training “Line-Ups”.   This rate of reinforcement will encourage your dog to “stay on his toes,” and “remain focused on you.”  The balance of games you use might change periodically.  How often you use games when training depends on your dog’s attitude, and desire to work or show.

Over time, the attitude your dog develops on Line-Ups, will carry over to the skill that follows.  When teaching a “Line-Up”, have your dog in a stand or sit, at your right or left side.  Use treats and toys to surprise and reward your dog!  Break into a game to motivate and compel your dog to pay close attention and be prepared to move.

What you will need
• Toys and treats.
• Leash.
• A dog eager to train.

Below are FUN games I use when teaching, or polishing my “Line-Ups” with my dogs.  When teaching and training, I randomly release and reward BEFORE my dog actually gets next to me and sits, or I release as we are moving to the position we will practice.  Mix up what you do to keep training interesting.  NOTE: These games can be done as you are moving to the spot where you will begin a skill, or as your dog is getting into a stationary position to sit/down/stand next to you.

Reward with a Spit OR Get OR Toy/Treat over your Head

  • Sit your dog on your right or left side, and quickly –
      • Spit a treat at him.
      • Drop a toy from under your arm or over your head.
      • Have your dog jump to get a treat or toy from your hand.

Through your legs    

  • Have your dog standing in front of you or at your right or left side.
  • Ask your dog to go through your legs, and up to either your right or left side.
  • Praise and reward with a toy or treat from the hand closest to your dog.

Unexpected commands

  • While practicing a “Line-Up”, suddenly ask for a skill your dog is not expecting.
  • The command can be any skill, or trick your dog knows and understands. Example, ask your dog for a line-up and as your dog gets next to you, ask your dog to spin or twirl.

Thumb Touch – hand touch

  • As my dog and I are moving towards where we will begin training, I ask for a Thumb Touch.
  • OR as my dog gets next to me to sit, I ask for a Thumb Touch.
  • Occasionally, I ask for multiple touches. :>)


  • Your dog loses focus when lining-up on either your right or left side.  Practice the games, etc. BEFORE you ask your dog to sit. Make being next to you rewarding and fun.
  • When you ask your dog to do an unexpected trick or skill, he looks at you like you are nuts.  Hahaha.  This often happens.  While I am training my dogs and they do not do a command, I quickly push them out of the way a bit, and rib them saying something like “where were you?”  I accompany with loads of laughing and follow with a game of tug or the “KrazyKookie” Game.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Advertising rewards or using lures.  Once your dog knows the skill, it is time to wean off any visible toys/treats.  Resist the temptation to grab a lure if your dog does not respond to a cue.
  • Excessive motion or torqueing upper body.  Shoulder wiggling or “sexy” shoulders, is when the person uses a lot of should cueing to get their dog into position.  While this is not necessarily a bad thing when lining up for Agility, it is when lining up for Obedience or Rally.  The “finish” in either sport resembles the line-up motion.  In the long run, extra movement of your shoulders will affect your “finish line”.  This is the line your dog sees on finishes and is covered at length in the “Fab Fronts and Finish” class.

Video Notes: Karrde and Sly are helping me demonstrate games in this video.  Karrde is just learning to add games to Line-Ups.  At the start, Karrde and I do a few rewards over my head and dropped down to him.  He loves toys, so this is a great reward for him.  At marker 0.56, I give Karrde a Thumb Touch signal that he does not respond to.  I give a negative marker to him and give him a chance at the skill again. Hahahaha.  He gives a lot more effort on the next signal and is rewarded.  At marker 1.13, I switch to line him on my right side, and he looks away.   The consequence is a tap on his head, verbal reward marker when he looks back to me.  Lastly, I ask Karrde to spin or twirl while he is on my side.  Actually, he has never done this combination of skills, but really does a great job.  I slow my signal down to help him understand the cue.  Note I do not put a lure in my hand.  I give Karrde time to understand and preform the skill and then reward him for his effort.

Sly is next in this video.  He is an old pro at these games and line-ups.  We start with the over the head game and then through my legs to line up on my right or left side.  In the last video, Sly and I do a few sit and spits and then a jump to hand.

Practicing Line-Ups will establish a “HABIT” that will help you and your dog to walk into a ring with confidence.

  • First, we need to be able to move into a Line-Up with ease.
  • No special equipment or area is needed.
  • Pre-plan a spot/ location you will move toward.
  • With that location in mind, move forward with your dog on your right or left or your dog moving backwards in front of you.
  • Once at that location, Line-Up your dog.
  • Praise and reward your dog and play.
  • Plan a new location to move and line-up.
  • Repeat this process until your dog and you can confidently move to any area and perform a line-up.
  • ALWAYS praise, reward, and add games.  Make the “act” of lining up FUN.

Here are a few examples of how to use games and rewards to keep your dog engaged and excited about training or showing.

  • As you with your dog move from point A to point B, surprise your dog with a game, a thumb touch, or jump up to get a toy/treat.
  • While heading towards or performing a “Line-Up”, have your dog go through your legs, and come up to your right or left side.
  • As you are lining-up, use a command your dog is not expecting, such as a down, sit, or spin.
  • Add in turns or pivots before you ask your dog to sit at the end of the ”Line up.”  For example, practice an about turn to the right or left, or a right or left turn, and then have your dog sit.  Encourage your dog to sit promptly one step out of the turn.

Preparing for the Show Ring

  • Have an area that simulates a ring.  This can be an actual ring or barriers and equipment that you set up.
  • Plan where you will go to do your line-up.
  • Have in mind how you will get there, what games, etc. will you play on your way there or once there and your dog is in a sit.
  • NOTE:  I use the example of a sit at the end of a Line-Up, but it can be a down, sit, or even and stand.
  • Once you perform your Line-Up, praise and play with your dog.
  • Keep your dog engaged while leaving the area.
  • Repeat the process in different ways and using different games.
  • Think of all the ways you might need to Line-Up in the ring,  write your ideas down and practice them all.
  • Be ready next time you show!
  • Make your Line-Up a great FUN activity.   :>)

Be creative and imaginative inventing your own games to use on “Line Ups.”  Have fun training your dog! Once your dog’s focus and drive is apparent, continue to play a variety of “Line Up” games at least fifty percent of the time during training sessions for the remainder of your dog’s career.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Rewarding incorrectly.   Keep your reward where you want your dog to be.  In this case, in heel position.   BUT adjust the position as needed to enhance your training.  In other words, your dog sits behind you, reward a little forged and once the new position becomes habit, adjust again if needed.
  • Becoming boring on Line-Ups.  Hahaha.  This is easy to fix.  Be fun and reward a lot.  Mark the Line-Up activity something your dog looks forward to doing.

Video Notes – In this video, Sly, Riker, Karrde, and I are practicing Line-Ups for Rally or Obedience.  Of course, this training can be used for any sport that you enter a show ring or area.

Sly is first.  We work on entering the ring and rewarding.  The reward will be anything from treats to tug to praise and petting.  He LOVES lining up and finds it a very rewarding activity all in itself.

Riker is next.  He too loves this activity.  We enter the ring in various ways and even work on the Leash On/Off skills.  We add pivots and when he hits a chair with his rear end, I bump up the praise.  He will now associate hitting objects as a positive thing.

Last up is Karrde.  He is just learning about this skill and we are still building desire.  First, we work on him backing into the ring.  Hahaha.  Very hard for him, but I love the effort he offers.  Sorry, Sly is the noise maker in the background.  Karrde gets loads of reward for all his efforts.  His desire to do the skill is great, but he will continue to get more rewards for a while longer as we work on precision.

Video Notes – Karrde, Riker, Sly and I are working on Line-Ups for the Agility ring in this video.

Karrde is first in the video.  The environment is a very exciting place for him and is hard for him to control himself.  We add in Leash On/Off to our session too.  Overall, I am very pleased with his effort but I do see more work ahead of us.

Riker is next.  We also add Leash On/Off. Riker and I do several repetitions, approaching the start line several different ways.

Sly is last in the video.  We walk between two chairs as an entrance while practicing.  While training, I add games and fun when Sly does a great job.  When training, it will be important to practice lining up in front of different obstacles.

Video Notes – In this video, a Novice class is working on a Line-Up drill.  There are four (4) ring gates set up.  Each person is to Line-Up in a different direction to the gate and visits all four gates.  During the drill, students were to watch focus and attention during the Line-Up.  Also, they were to maintain focus and engagement while moving from one location to the next.  If a student’s dog missed the Line-Up, the student was to redo the Line-Up scenario.  This is a great drill.  In general, the dogs needed this practice. During this short session, students were pleasantly surprised to see the improvement in their dogs.

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bump up idea


Zero Second Drill –the ground is NOT rewarding.

Just love this game.  My floors do not have the “ten second rule’, they have a “zero second rule”.  Hahahaha.  This drill will teach your dog that treats or toys on the floor are not his UNLESS you say the Get It command.  A skill EVERY dog needs.  In addition, it teaches my dog I am much more rewarding.   The GET IT Game is the foundation of this skill.  Please make sure your dog is proficient with the Get It Game BEFORE teaching the Zero Second Drill!

Teaching the FUNdamentals

  • Begin with your dog on leash.
  • Sit on the floor or in a chair and either hold your leash in one hand or place the end under your foot.
  • Your dog is NOT on a stay/sit/down command, rather he is near you in a relaxed position.  In other words, DO NOT command your dog in a position.  This stage is to teach him there is NO value in trying to get the treats off the ground.
  • Let your dog see you place several small treats on the floor.
  • Place the treats very close to you so you can cover the treats with your hand or foot if your dog takes a dive for them.
  • If your dog moves forward and tries to get the treats, COVER the treats with your free hand or foot if sitting in a chair.
  • DO NOT give a command.  I.e., there is no “leave it” command used.  Hahaha.  I usually laugh at the dog as I cover the treat.
  • Only when your dog backs off the treats and does not attempt to get it, will you remove your hand off the treats.
  • As long as your dog stays away from the treats, take one treat from the floor to give your dog.
  • Default behavior often is your dog backing away from the treats.  Some dogs start sitting or downing on their own and making eye contact with you.
  • Praise and reward when your dog chooses wisely.
  • NOTE: during the teaching phase, do not release your dog to any treats on the floor.  We want to build a history of rewards from you and not the floor.
 The key to this exercise is that your hand/foot ONLY covers the treats if or when your dog moves forward to get the treat.  Let your dog learn that he will get the treat only when YOU offer. 

Bump Up the game.  :>)

  • Stand up and drop a few treats on the ground a distance from each other.
  • Once your dog is ignoring the dropped treats, point out one treat and tell him to “get It”.   This gives him permission to eat that ONE treat, but none of the other on the ground.
  • Cover or block your dog from getting any other treats if he attempts to grab more than the one treat you indicated.
  • YES.  Do this game with toys if your dog plays tug.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Saying “leave it”.  This drill teaches your dog that it is his responsibility NOT to shop.  If you say something to your dog, then you are assuming the responsibility.
  • Not rewarding for effort.  If you see your dog trying to decide on what he should do, praise.  If he backs off or looks at you, praise and reward!

Video Notes:  First in the video, Sly and I are training this drill.  Sly did this drill when he was very young, but clearly, we needed a refresher course.  Hahaha.  He loves to offer and tries everything and then starts to realize what he is supposed to do.  Once Sly starts to show he understands criteria, I stand up to increase the level of difficulty.   I drop a treat on the ground and block him from getting a treat if I see him getting ready to dive for one.  At this stage, I will always pick the treats up and not allow him to pick one up off the ground.

Next, Sly and I start to bump up our training.  I am standing and dropping treats on the ground.  When Sly looks at me after dropping treats, I praise and reward.  Again, I will pick up treats and not permit him to take a treat off the ground.  At the end of the session, a number of treats are tossed on the ground and Sly does a great job of resisting them and then refocusing on me!

Karrde is next in the video and is just learning this drill.  When training, one treat is dropped and Karrde is rewarded.  Then I will drop another treat and reward him.  When he is steadily resisting diving for the dropped treat, I give him permission to get one of the treats.  The first attempt, Karrde tries to dive for the second treat dropped and I block him.  After that, he does a great job and is beginning to understand the rules to this drill.

Sly is last in the video and is showing the utmost in resisting dropped treats and getting one off the ground with a given command.  When releasing him for a treat, I am always ready to block him IF he opts to get a dropped treat.  At this level of training, I will sometimes release for a treat and other times pick treats up.

Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week

Focus Fun A-Z 2023-Training-Log-______ Week-


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