Focus Fun July Week 2

Training Tip and image ..

first of month – challenge instead of topic

goal is 4 skill topics per week

Page LinksTopicMonthly Drill ProgressionSlow HandTransition GamesDIGCheck-In TugPDF Files

Topic – Building training duration/endurance —-  train and end on something your dog loves … Adding duration to focus … Building training duration/endurance —-  train and end on something your dog loves … Adding duration to focus …




Questions? Ask DebbyQ





Questions? Ask DebbyQ


Your Task for this Week 




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TT motion

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.

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

Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ

DIG – Teach intro toward object – chair, table, trash can

Session 1

DIG=DISTRACTIONS Initiate GAMES – Make distractions positive!

Distractions can cause your dog to lose focus on you. Distractions are the perfect time to turn what could be a “negative” experience into a “positive” one.

Not only will your dog become more confident, but he will also learn to “keep trying” and focus more intensely on you no matter what the situation is or where you are.


New distractions – starting to generalize a behavior

Steps to Success ~ Start with your dog in a stand, sit or fall into heeling from play.

  • Walk towards a barrier such as a ring gate, wall or table.
  • Reward and release your dog BEFORE your dog looks at the barrier.
  • If you dog looks at the barrier make a mental note of how far away from the barrier you were when your dog acknowledged it. Were you 5 feet awsy? 10 feet?  Things to look for from your dog include:   your dog dropping his head and looking at the barrier, your dog changing his gait, your dog’s ears went back, or he closed mouth, etc.  Basically any sign that he knew you are approaching something.
  • Repeat the going towards the barrier only this time release your dog to a toy/treat BEFORE getting to place where your dog previously acknowledged the barrier. For example, you are moving towards a wall and your dog closes his mouth and then looks at the wall.  You noted that you were 6 feet from the wall when your dog started paying attention to the barrier.  So your marker would be reward your dog 7 feet from the wall.
  • Heel/move towards the wall again. This time again release your dog to a toy/treat 7 feet from the wall.
  • Once again walk towards the wall. This time see if you can get 6.5 feet from the wall without your dog looking at it. Remember to take your time and do not rush.
  • Do not advertise that you have food or toys. Make the reward quick and a SURPRISE!
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Repeat this sequence until your dog is confident.  This may mean practicing many repetitions during many training sessions.  The next time you practice reward at 7 feet then try 6.5 ft away, etc.

HOW do you know when your dog is confident?  Your dog will exhibit an increase in focus, i.e. he will increase his intensity or look harder at you.  If you are having a hard time seeing this, ask a friend watch or better yet video yourself and see the difference in your dog’s posture and focus. ONLY when you see this intensity can you move to the next step.

Use a consequence, like the “U-Missed It” game (in the HEELING Games section), when your dog is not giving 100% effort or loses attention. Tell your dog to “get it” when he is not looking or has gotten distracted. The second he looks back or focuses on you, start to tease him and say something like “ha ha you missed it.”  Be theatrical with the toy or treat but don’t let him have it. Repeat the skill he where he lost focus and reward him if he gives you more effort and focus.


  • As you move closer to the barriers over many training sessions, watch your dog for lack of focus, or signs of worry and stress.  Signs of stress or worry may be lip licking, pacing, ears held back, or a glazed look on his face.  Be sure to release your dog before you see any of these signs. BE PROACTIVE!
  • Keep in mind that an old distraction in a new place should be treated as a “new”
  • DO train your dog in many new locations or towards many new and different types of barriers. If you have been training going into ring gates, try going towards a line of chairs, a table, a car or a hedge row.
  • If you run into or knock down a fence or other object while training, immediately praise, reward and release your dog. Be sure to follow this release with a reward of a jackpot of treats and play. It’s a PARTY!
  • Learn to read your dog.  If he makes a mistake ask yourself, is he afraid, distracted, or is he blowing you off?  Does he really know your criteria?  Being able to answer these questions will enable you to help your dog to be successful in any situation.
  • Once your dog understands how to “win” at the DIG game, utilize “heeling games” to help keep your dog focused and motivated.

Proofing against distractions is a lengthy and time consuming process. If you try to rush or take shortcuts, you run the risk of creating a worried dog lacking in confidence and enthusiasm.

NOTE in the video, on the first repetition, Slyder looks away. His consequence is that he doesn’t get the toy/game. In the next repetition, Slyder was reinforced slightly before the spot where he was previously distracted.

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Your Task for    Week


Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ


how is it going?


new places?



Your Task for this Week 




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PDF Files useful for this week

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


Questions? Ask DebbyQ