Focus Fun January Week 1

The Journey Begins

When training or showing, I look for my dog to want to be with me and excited about training.  My dog is looking forward to doing whatever I have planned.  He stays focused regardless of the environment. 

REMINDER – Focus is offered, not asked for.

Page LinksMonthly Drill - DESIREKrazyKookieGet It GameRevv/SettlePDF Files

Monthly Drill –  Desire building  – With Desire, I will have Focus

January challenge is to build desire on 1 skill.  Only move on to a “new” skill once you have built the ultimate desire in the first skill you have chosen to work on.

GOAL – To build the utmost desire in a skill.  ONLY move on to teaching desire in a NEW skill once your first skill has meet your criteria.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  :>)

When I begin to teach a skill to my dog, the first thing I want to do is build DESIRE in my dog to LOVE and WANT to do the skill.  This approach also applies to improving a skill I have already taught but may be lacking pizzazz or the desire I seek.

When you are building desire on a skill, you want to use something the dog loves!  In other words, you will pair what you want your dog to love with something he already loves.   We want to use the HIGHEST VALUE to build desire.

Example:  Sly loves toys/tug.  So, to build desire for focus, I placed his favorite toy with me, either hidden or in my hand.  Initially, I start a skill and immediately break and play.   When I see that he is “gaga” about the skill and willingly offering or even anticipating that skill, I will add more duration.

In order to teach your dog true “DESIRE”, every skill you want your dog to have focus on needs to be paired with something your dog loves.  This should be done with each skill BEFORE sequencing skills.  Over time, you will see your dog start to look forward to training those skills.

Building DESIRE

  • Pre-plan and pick which and how many games or treats you are going to use and when you plan to use them.  That includes not only the time you are “officially” training your dog, but also at mealtime, at the park, etc.
  • Keep a notebook of the games, the type of rewards, and how much you used.  You will not want to continually use the same types (or amounts) of treats, or games over and over.  Variety is the spice of life so keep training FUN and Unpredictable.
  • My Skills Worksheet Focus PDF to help training
  • The BALANCE between precision and desire is ever changing.
  • When training, always choose DESIRE over precision.  A dog that is having fun will continue to give effort!
  • Remember to build and maintain your dog’s focus, attention, and desire by randomly releasing your dog with games.  Too much repetition or sequencing without enough fun, is a sure way to de-motivate and bore your dog!

Your Task for the Month of January

  1. Describe and write down what desire looks like to you.
  2. Pick a skill to build desire on.
  3. Video your training session building desire on the skill you have chosen.
  4. Analyze your training session.  Did you get the results you where wanting?  What do you need to change to improve your next session?
  5. Post comments on the Facebook group.

When working to build DESIRE and “I WANNA” in your dog, keep these points in mind:

  • Begin your session when your dog “wants to participate.”  Have your dog in a crate or a different room for an hour or so before training.  Make sure your dog is bored and has nothing to do, so he will be looking forward to being with you.
  • Reward your dog’s effort using a very HIGH reward, something your dog LOVES.
  • Present the reward very close to completion of the skill or activity.
  • Practice for short periods of time.  Always quit when your dog wants more!
  • ONLY when you have the DESIRE do you GRADUALLY increase the Distance OR Duration.
  • KIS – Keep it simple.  Make it easy for your dog to be successful and earn rewards.
  • Training is 24/7, so be aware of what your dog does in everyday life.
  • Working for a living.  Think of your dog as an employee.  He works for what he gets, and gets what he earns.
  • Make sure you and your dog are having fun and enjoying yourselves!

Rapport is so much more than rewarding a dog.  It is structure and boundaries in everyday life.  Also, it is discipline when misbehaving and reinforcement when offering effort.  The rapport you have with your dog is all about the BALANCE of the relationship.

DESIRE always comes first.  It’s hard to proof or challenge if the DESIRE isn’t there. 

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Assuming a dog has enough desire built for a reward or skill.  Continue to monitor and build desire for all rewards and skills and throughout your dog’s career.
  • Not maintaining desire.  Once skills have been put into a sequence, randomly reward each skill in the sequence on a regular basis.  Break off to play unexpectedly to keep different sections of the sequence fun.

Make a conscious effort to maintain a “BALANCE” in every aspect of your training.  YES!  In Every Aspect! 

Video Notes: In this video, I am building DESIRE in Karrde’s sit while balancing with precision.

Two (2) things to remember:

  1. My sit command criteria is that my dog remains in a sit until given another command or released.
  2. My dog must remain in an “active” state, meaning ready to go at a drop of a hat.

Actually, this is a great training session.  It shows building desire for the sit and also maintaining focus. See how treats are delivered in a fast manner, and then either a slow delivery of treats or a “jump to hand”.  The slow delivery reinforces the sit, while the jump to hand teaches Karrde to stay in an “active” state.

At marker 0.42, Karrde looks away and I add the U-Missed It game as a consequence.  I drive him crazy teasing and laughing at him.  On the next repetition, I ask for and he gives a great sit and he is rewarded with a “jump to hand”.   

At marker 0.55, Karrde does a “Jump to Hand” and the treat falls to the ground.  NOTE how I stay on him to HURRY and get back to me.  THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT HABIT TO CREATE, getting something off the floor and hurry back to me!

Again at marker 1.02, Karrde looks away and I start a “Jump to Hand” BUT since he looked away, I tease him and do not let him have the treat.  On the following repetitions, I reward him more often with several treats OR a “Jump to Hand”.   As training progresses, I will build in duration on Karrde’s sits but I will not accept lack of focus or an inactive state.  :>)

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

KrazyKookie – Review

The “KrazyKookie” Game is a personal favorite game of mine.  I use this game to build desire in dogs that do not play with toys.  It makes the dog work for the treat so there are no “freebies.”  As a result, a dog HAS to give more effort to “WIN” the reward.  This is a FUN game for both the handler and their dog.

Playing the “KK” Game with your dog will encourage your dog to return to you quickly and continue to maintain focus and desire to remain engaged.  Keeping your dog engaged is always better than just handing him a treat.  It is never too soon or too late to begin teaching your dog how to stay engaged.  Regardless of your dog’s age or experience, the benefits he will reap from the introduction to this concept are many.

Review KK game – start slowly with treat hand dog’s head level … let dog catch hand rather than stopping and giving treat to dog …  your dog does the work ….

See all the steps to teaching the KK game on this class page.  KrazyKookie Game

Your Task for Week 1

  1. Review all the steps before getting your dog.  Post any questions on Facebook group.
  2. Grab some high value treats and your dog.
  3. Slowly move your treat hand and as your dog catches the head, release the treat.
  4. Reload hand an repeat a few times.
  5. Video your training session.
  6. Post comments on the Facebook group.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Moving the treat hand too quickly when first teaching the game.  As your dog learns the game, keep your hand going at a speed that your dog can easily follow it.  This will give your dog confidence and help the desire to chase.  Only speed up the treat hand once your dog is engaged and loves the game.
  • Stopping the treat hand and giving the dog the treat.  This game is all about YOUR DOG doing the work.   Instead, slow your treat hand so your dog can “catch” the treat hand.
  • Not using appropriate treats.  Use treats that are of high value to your dog and something he can eat quickly.

Video Notes: Poe and I are reviewing his KrazyKookie game.  While playing, I move the reward hand just fast enough for him to chase and CATCH the treat in my hand.  When he gets to my treat hand, I let him get the treat BUT will still slowly move my hand away.  This ensures that he will continue to move toward as well as to learn to drive to rewards.  I.e. I will not deliver or hand to him.


KrazyKookie checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Get It Game – Review  

Playing the “Get It” Game with your dog will encourage your dog to leave your side in a brisk and determined manner.  He will also learn to turn promptly and return to you with intensity, drive, and focus.  The “Get it Game” will enhance your dog’s agility, obedience, and rally performances.

Just think about how many applications this game will have in your training and everyday life with your dog.  This one skill is the foundation of all skills that require your dog to come to you quickly, to see and know where you are, any retrieve, fast turns back toward you, and so on.

The foundations for this great game can be found on this page.  Get It Game

Make the principle part, grab and return, of this skill a habit!  That means once the HABIT for the spin and return is established, wean off all verbal encouragement to return to you quickly.  

While you play the Get It game with your dog, be sure to regain his focus after he returns to you, jumps for a treat or toy in your hand, or chases a tossed treat!  You can do this by having him jump for an additional treat, playing tug, or by simply praising, clapping your hands, and talking to him as you prepare to play the game again!

Your Task for Week 1

  • Review How To Steps before getting your dog.  Post any questions on Facebook group.
  • Grab some high value treats and your dog.
  • While hanging on to your dog, toss a treat out a short distance and send your dog.
  • Use extra encouragement to get your dog to grab and come back quickly.
  • Greet your dog with the KK/tug game when he returns.  This will help build DESIRE to get back to you quickly.
  • Repeat the sequence a few times.
  • Only wean off extra verbal encouragement IF your dog has the HABIT to get back to you quickly.
  • Video your training session.
  • Post comments on the Facebook group.

End Goal – For your dog to run out, grab a toy/treat and return to you quickly with enthusiasm, and without any extra motion or verbal commands.  The skill of running out and returning quickly should become a HABIT.

COMMON ERRORS – Handler Make

  • Accepting a slow pick up.  Insist that your dog grab the treat quickly.   Use verbal words and walking away from your dog to get him to hurry.
  • Allowing the dog to stop and chew a treat.  Haha.  Your dog can eat and run at the same time.  Make it urgent for your dog to hurry and get back to you.  If needed, teach your dog to hurry and eat before starting to teach the Get It Game.  While he is close to you, feed him small treats one after another in a rapid fire progression.

Video Notes: In this clip, Poe and I are reviewing the Get It Game.    The first few repetitions, I use a command to ensure he will snatch treat and get back to me quickly.  I see from the start that he has developed the “habit” to grab and run back quickly.   This is the most important criteria in this game.   If you watch Poe closely, you can see his thought to return and his head starting to turn back to me.   At video marker .58, I start to wean away from additional encouragement.  Poe does an awesome job and I am delighted with his responses.  If at any time I see him taking too long to pick up, eat, or dash back, I stop the progression and get the criteria I am looking for.  


Get It Game checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

REVV/SETTLE GAME is a FUN game and is another Special Secret Game of mine that I play with all my dogs.  During this game, my dogs learn how to settle, stay calm and focused on me in an exciting and distracting environment.  

I play the Revv/Settle Game with my pups when I first start training them.  However, this game can be taught to any dog at any age and at any stage of training.  The Revv/Settle Game introduces your dog valuable tools that will enhance your training and showing.  In addition, the Revv/Settle Game teaches your dog how to become energized and focused on you and ready to work from the calm state OR settle an over aroused dog.

What You Need

  • A leash.
  • High value toys and treats for KK.
  • Toy for tug.
  • Low distraction area.
  • A dog that knows a settle down or a down with the dog on a hip.

If you use treats to reward, “activate” the treat by playing the KrazyKookie Game (see Tab).   Just handing your dog a treat is BORING!   Instead, “activate” the treat and tell your dog to “get” it.

FUNdamentals – Activate Game.

  • Use a no distraction location when introducing the game.
  • Tell your dog to “get” the toy for a game of tug or play the KrazyKookie (KK) Game.
  • If you are playing tug or the KK Game, stop playing and ask your dog to settle (lay down).

NOTE:  Settle to my dogs means to roll on your right hip.  This is also the command I use when at ring side waiting our turn as well as the command/position when doing group stays.  It is a relaxed position, but my dog still has to maintain my criteria and stay in an “active” state.   Down/Settle Classroom   How to teach the settle can be found on this page.

  • Reward your dog while he is in the settle position by randomly dropping a few treats between his front legs.
  • Ideally, he will go into a relaxed state in the settle.
  • If at any time your dog looks away from you, immediately say “GET IT” to the toy/treat, and play tug or the KK Game.
  • This step starts teaching your dog that when something happens, to look at you for FUN.
  • If your dog maintains focus on you, REWARD the effort with a game of tug or the KK Game.
  • After playing, have your dog settle once more, and reward your dog by dropping treats between your dog’s front feet.
  • Do a couple of repetitions, but keep your session short and fun.

While Playing this game:

  • Each time you finish a game of tug or the KK Game, place your dog back on a settle and reward him randomly by dropping treats between his front paws.
  • While your dog is in a settle, look for a relaxed state and focused on you.
  • This training takes time and patience.  Take your time and build a solid foundation.
  • Keep your training sessions short and fun!
  • When you finish your training session, remove your dog from the training environment.

Your Task for Week 1

  1. Teach a settle, down rolled on 1 hip.
  2. Reward a number of times by dropping treats between your dog’s front feet.
  3. Once he is comfortable on the settle, revv him off by playing tug or the KK game.
  4. Again, place him on a settle, randomly dropping him treats.
  5. After a short period of time, revv him off the settle with a game.
  6. Video your training session.
  7. Post comments on the Facebook group.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog will not settle when asked.  Teach a settle skill before introducing this game.  Also make sure your dog is in a non-distraction location.
  • Your dog springs up out of the settle before being released.  Reward your dog more often while in the settle.  Give your dog a treat every few seconds and then do a huge release.
  • Your dog will not release the toy when asked in order to have him settle.  Tell him to settle while he is holding onto the toy.  In most cases the dog will drop the toy when he settles.  :>)

Video Notes:  In this video, Poe is being introduced to the Revv/Settle.  He is learning a settle, so I lure and position him.  Poe gets paid a lot while in the settle position and when we break to tug I insist that he tugs.  As you can see, at first he has a bit of a hard time going from a settle to play.  That is ok, but I will continue to insist and he will learn “how to” go from a relaxed state to a driven one.  HAHA.  Karrde did a video bomb.

Video Notes:  First, Riker and I are in my living room working on Revv/Settle.  His settle needs work, roll on his hip, but his effort is there and that is more important at this level.  Loads of focus and effort show me that Riker understands the game so it is time to up or training. 

We then move to the porch.  This is a more distracting area with the birds and noises.  Again, he gives great effort and is rewarded with a fun game of KrazyKookie. 


Revv-Settle Checklist

Questions? Ask DebbyQ