Focus Fun July Week 1

Training Tip and image ..

first of month – challenge instead of topic

goal is 4 skill topics per week

Page LinksMonthly ChallengeSlow HandTransition GamesDIGCheck-In Revv/SettlePDF Files

staying out of exercise box article —-

monthly challenge

mixing skills learned together



balance, come, sit/down, with me


leash on/off

get it



with me



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stand distance



Your Task for this Week 




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Wean off of the treats.

  • Begin to vary when you give your dog a reward for touching your hand/thumb.
  • Start by giving your dog a treat for 2 out of 3 touches, then 1 out of 3, and so on, until you are randomly rewarding your dog for the best responses (faster, more definite bumps with his nose, etc.).
  • Make sure you give your “reward mark word” for ALL touches, including the ones that you do not reward with a treat.

Visual cue only. I prefer using a signal only.  Hahaha.  In order for of my dog to see the cue, he has to be looking and watching me.   :>)

  • Keep your hand low when presenting your thumb making the transition to no verbal easier for your dog.
  • Present your thumb cue and whisper your command.
  • Continue to whisper until your dog becomes proficient at the TT with no verbal.
  • Only when your dog is proficient with the TT signal, should you raise your hand to a comfortable position.

Adding motion.   nextweekjuneweek2

Until now, we have been training in a stationary position.  For this step, we will add back in the verbal cue word, and the treat in the hand, to simplify adding movement for your dog.

  • Review the thumb touch steps before beginning to add motion.
  • Have a treat in your TT hand closest to your dog.
  • With your dog at your right or left side, begin slowly walking forward.
  • As you move forward with your dog, present your thumb low, and quietly say your cue word.
  • Reward and praise your dog for the touch.
  • Only increase the height of your thumb, or weaning off of a treat or verbal, as your dog becomes confident and is consistently touching your thumb.

Proofing the Thumb Touch.

Once your dog will touch your thumb/hand while standing or in motion start adding new easy distractions to test your dog’s knowledge of the skill.

  • Test your dog’s knowledge on your right and left side.
  • Practice at different paces, i.e., walk at slow, normal or a jog.
  • Walk your dog through an open ring gate and do a Thumb Touch in the middle of the gate.
  • Stand or walk next to a person or a dog asking for a Thumb Touch.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog shows no interest and will not touch the back of your hand.  Put a dab of peanut butter (PB) on the back of your hand.  Lower your hand so your dog can easily lick the PB off.  Test to see if your dog will touch your hand.  If so, continue with fundamentals above.  If not spend more time with the PB.  :>)
  • Your dog seems confused when you are training this game.  Make sure you are putting your signal hand behind your back or at your side BEFORE presenting the cue.  Wait a moment, and then present your thumb to your dog again, and say your “cue word” as bumps your thumb.
  • Your dog will not touch your thumb on a signal only.  Keep your hand low when beginning to wean off verbal command.  Over many repetitions, gradually wean off using your verbal touch command and make the cue just the “presentation” of your thumb.


VIDEO NOTES: In this video, Karrde and I are training the TT.  First, he is showing how he touches the back of my hand/thumb.  My hand is held low, and we work with him on both my right and left sides.  Then, leaving my hand lower, we begin to add the TT while we move forward at a slow pace. 


In the next section, Karrde and I work on starting to raise my hand a bit higher, so he has to jump up a bit to TT.   All in all, he does a nice job.

Next, Sly shows how to add the TT with movement.  We move together forward at a slow pace.  When I give the cue, Sly jumps up, and is rewarded for his effort.  Once Sly shows he understands the cue in slow motion, we start working on a signal only and no verbal cue.

Lastly, Sly and I are moving at a normal pace while doing TT.  Remember, when training the TT, to keep your hand low, and raise it as your dog understands the concept.  Make sure that you “present” the signal each time, whether your dog actually touches your hand.  If my dog does not TT, I will simply remove the signal and try again.


Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ



DIG – turning negatives into positives – what is negative to your dog?  Make a list … what does your dog LOVE?  Make a list –  DIG work –toward ring entries and “stuff” your dog will be exposed too … turning negatives into a positive … dog backing, person yelling,  thunderstorms, etc.


DIG= DISTRACTIONS INITIATE GAMES – DIG is all about making distractions positive and rewarding for your dog!    Many times a distraction can cause your dog to lose focus, to worry or even become a negative experience.  However, distracting situations are a optimal time for you to turn a possible “negative” experience for your dog into a “positive” experience.  Not only will your dog become more confident, but your dog will “keep trying” and focus more intently on you no matter what the situation. The first dog I taught this skill to was Solo, my Golden Retriever.  I started training this concept to him when he was 6 months old.  He was trained this skill a few minutes in EVERY training session.  At the same time I was training Solo, I also introduced the DIG concept to the dog I was campaigning in Obedience, my Border Collie, Easy.  The results were so incredible that this skill has become a foundation for all my dogs and students.

I want to STRESS that this skill cannot be rushed! A few minutes working on this in every training concept will pay you back BIG TIME later!  Remember that what might be negative to your dog might not be anything to you.  Examples: A favorite person approaching your dog, a streak of light on the ground, the exam on a sit or a stand, etc.

Concept: DIG is the start of Proofing for your dog.  It is an introduction of how to be successful at proofing.  Distractions, visual and auditory, become a cue to your dog that a reward or game is coming. Pay close attention to discover what your dog’s threshold is in a variety of environments and situations! Some dogs work comfortably 10 feet from a distraction while others need more or less distance. Working with distractions will help your dog to become confident and will enable him to concentrate and successfully do his “job” in many different situations and locations. The “ring” is a continually changing environment. Train for ever-changing conditions and situations!

NOTE: Teaching your dog to ignore distractions build confidence, reliability and focus in your dog.  Your dog learns  that ignoring distractions in the environment means something great will be coming from you!!!

Your Task for this Week 




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how is it going?


points to remember


new challenge?

Your Task for this Week 




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PDF Files useful for this week

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


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