Focus Fun August Week 2

Most of us want and even strive for a dog that exudes enjoyment when training and showing.
What many of us ultimately look for is a partner that shows willingness and precision along with drive and desire.
The question is – How do we achieve that balance between speed and yet keep the accuracy?

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“Achieving a Balance” in training

Most of us want and even strive for a dog that exudes enjoyment when training and showing. What many of us ultimately look for is a partner that shows willingness and precision along with drive and desire. How do we achieve that balance between speed and yet keep the accuracy?

Back in the old days, training methods were designed for precision without much care for motivating the dog. Although some dogs performed well with this technique, many dogs didn’t appear to enjoy the work itself. Dog training is all about balancing between two ends of a scale.

Drive vs Precision – Training is all about learning how to balance building desire yet maintain an adequate amount of self-control to be accurate when performing skills. In general it is important for a training method to take into account the dog’s willingness and “want” for learning skills. Temperament often plays a role in how a trainer structures training sessions. Dogs that show a high work drive are typically easier to motivate but many times need more training in self-control skills. On the other hand, dogs that show lower drive often need more motivation and shorter sessions while training. With these dogs it might be more important to build the drive and desire before actual training of skills begins. The key in training is motivating your dog during sessions to build the drive you want. Regardless of the level of working desire your dog has, building or maintaining the drive and desire is an important component to take into consideration before you start working with your dog.

TOO MUCH DESIRE – Dogs motivated beyond their threshold or capability become dogs that have a hard time focusing on a task. Some people call this “happy” and “high drive” – others call it frantic and stressed. Many times dogs like this seem to have a hard time remaining calm or unable to think while training.

What to do with a highly excitable dog:

  • Work on “rev/settle” games.  Anytime your dog sees or hears excitement, have your dog turn to you, settle and drop him treats.  Reward periodically while he is in a down and in a calm state. If your dog notices an exciting event either reward for your dog for looking back to you or release your dog off the down and play then put in another settle.  Over time this game teaches your dog to focus on you during exciting events.
  • Feed your dog half his meal before the training session and use low value treats such as kibble for food rewards during training.
  • Keep praise low-key and brief and all petting should be calm and slow.

TOO MUCH PRECISION – What happens when you have too much work and do not get enough time for fun? You as a person become sad, overworked and depressed. When you train without reward or motivation, your dog doesn’t have joy in the work. Often dogs trained in this manner are ones who quit trying altogether or go into a “shut down” mode. Other dogs become overly stressed and get completely hectic and scattered commonly sniffing or looking for enjoyment visiting other people. Either way, you tend to get a dog who responds only when he “has to” and who avoids tasks at all other times.

What to do to get more joy and drive:

  • Lighten up when you train!
  • Enjoy the time and the journey with your dog!
  • Motivate your dog using surprising games and reward with food and toys your dog really enjoys.
  • Remember to back away from your dog.  This helps build drive coming towards you.
  • If in doubt go back to foundations. Reviews of foundations often find holes in your dogs training or understanding.
  • Train in shorter training sessions. Keep it short and sweet.

Achieving the balance between precision and desire is possible.
It takes time and planning along with rewards and motivation.
YES, you too can have a dog that shows willingness and precision along with drive and desire.

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Redirect2WIN 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.

It is a Must Have drill!

Challenge for August Week 2

Redirect2Win – adding Low Distractions

  • Get your dog, a leash, and some yummy treats.redirect2win
  • With your dog on leash, go and walk around your front yard.  We want to start with light distractions to teach the proper response.
  • When your dog is busy sniffing or looking at something interesting, say your “come” command and take a few steps back and away from your dog.
  • Make sure your dog is distracted!
  • We want your dog to be facing you with his back to the distraction.
  • When your dog comes to you, place your hand in your dog’s collar, ask your dog to sit, and feed your dog a number of treats.
  • Release your dog from the sit and begin walking again.
  • Always reinforce this command by praising your dog as he moves toward you.  Make sure you feed your dog high value treats once they get to you
    and remain in a sit.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Giving your dog too much time to respond to a cue.  Don’t wait to see what happens.  Give your dog a command and expect an immediate response.  If your dog doesn’t respond, take his collar and muzzle and back up and have your dog sit.  Praise calmly.
  • Your dog refuses to turn his back to the distraction.  If your dog will not turn his back to the distraction, he is telling you he is over his threshold.  Move away from the distraction while you keep insisting him turn his back.  Progress slowly with this skill and only increase difficulty when your dog is confident and successful.  If the area you have chosen turns out to be too difficult, move away 10-20 feet and try again.   Time and persistence pays off!

Video Notes: In this video, Poe and I are practicing Redirect2Win in my front yard. This is a low distracting location but does provide a little more challenge. Each time I call Poe, he comes to me quickly. Then I take his collar and muzzle and or feed him a few treats. We repeat the drill a few times.


Redirect 2 Win – Adding Low Distractions week 2

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Moving Backward is my FAVORITE transition game.  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 2

Backing – 2 Leashes and adding more Steps straight back

  • Have your dog on 2 leashes and in front of you.
  • Start to slowly take 2 steps forward (toward your dog) and reward your dog for moving backwards.
  • If your dog can catch, it is best to spit treats as this will get immediate rewards and heads up focus.
  • Keep your arms and hands at your side, FEET forward and together walking toward your dog.
  • Move slowly, giving your dog a lot of verbal feedback and reward as your dog moves backwards.
  • Over time, increase the number of steps you take to 5 before rewarding your dog.
  • Reward your dog while in motion.
  • Keep the number of steps you take before rewarding your dog to a minimum.  The more you reward steps 1-5, the better your dog will get.
  • If your dog is successfully backing 5 steps, add 2-3 more steps, but continue to move slowly in a straight line, reward frequently and ALWAYS give your dog a lot of verbal feedback.

Problems?  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 and I are working on his backing while in front of me. 2 leashes are used and if he goes off to one side or the other, I use the opposite side leash to correct the off center. Loads of input and rewards are given when Poe is walking backward.


Transitions-2 Leashes and Adding Steps Backwards week 2

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.

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 2

Understanding how to maintain and move in position.

  • Once your dog understands your “close” and “right” command and can readily line upmove up into the correct position, it is time to teach your dog how to maintain the positions as you move.
  • Have your dog on leash, with the leash behind you and held in the hand furthest from your dog.
  • Ask your dog to “close” or “right” as you take a few steps forward with your dog.
  • When you stop, say sit to your dog.  The sit command is given as you are planting the first foot as you stop.
  • Tension on the leash behind you will help your dog maintain position as you move.
  • Praise and reward your dog for effort.

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’s 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.
  • Your dog’s sits are crooked or rear out.  When first starting to teach this skill, keep it fun and build a history of rewards.   Only once the desire is built, work on precision by using a leash OR a barrier next to your dog to ensure his sits are correct.
Always give your dog “brain breaks” when working on precision.  Break with a great game of tug or the KrazyKookie Game.

Video Notes: In this video, Poe is learning how to move into a line-up.  I am using a target hand to teach him and will wean off the treat in my hand in the next few sessions.  Keeping the treat in my hand too long makes it harder to wean off later.

Video Notes: In this clip Karrde is learning how to move into a Line-Up. We will start to “polish” position, and I will begin to wean off my hand use. Karrde gives me great “Leash On” focus, marker 4.12, which is taught in this class. :>) At marker 6.02, Karrde looks away, and I use a Knee Bump consequence followed with praise as he looks to me. Notice how I am using the leash behind me to correct proper position. Karrde gets loads of verbal feedback, praise, and breaks with a tug game.


Line Ups-Understanding How to Maintain and Move In Position. week 2

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Just love the Zero Second Drill.  My floors do not have the “ten second rule’, they have a “zero second rule”.  Hahaha. 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 your dog that you are much more rewarding than the floor.  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!

Your Task for August Week 2

Zero Second Drill Intro

  • Begin with your dog on leash and 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 grab treats.
  • We will start with a treat in your hand with your palm up.
  • If your dog moves forward and tries to get the treats, close your hand.
  • DO NOT give a command. I.e., there is no “leave it” command used.  Hahaha. I usually laugh at the dog as I close my hand.
  • Once my dog has backed off my hand, I will open my hand and praise my dog.  NO treats just yet!
  • After a few seconds and if my dog stays away from my open hand, will I give him a treat either from my hand or a container close to us.
  • Default behavior often is your dog making eye contact.  Some dogs start sitting or downing on their own while making eye contact with you.
  • If your dog sits or downs, just toss a treat telling your dog to get it and restarting the drill.
  • Praise and reward when your dog chooses wisely.

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: Poe is being introduced to the Zero Second drill. HaHa. He is VERY food driven, so this is VERY hard for him. He learns quickly to stay away from the treat hand and even starts giving me eye contact. When he chooses wisely, he is rewarded with either treat from my hand or another treat stash I have close by. Poe even starts to offer a sit while making eye contact with me. Toward the end of the video, I start to test Poe a bit by moving my treat hand. The hand closes if he moves toward it and is rewarded for staying away.


Zero Second-Sitting Down week 2

Questions? Ask DebbyQ