Focus Fun July Week 3

It is not bad for your dog to be wrong.
Your dog being wrong is your opportunity

to teach your dog how to be correct.

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Distraction Training

(or proofing) builds your dog’s confidence, focus, and attention on you so that your dog can perform a skill any place, anytime, no matter what is happening.


I introduce and teach my dog a NEW CONCEPT, such as distraction/proofing, using non-traditional skills.  In this case, proofing/distraction work will be done first when my dogs are doing fun tricks/games.

What things impact your dog’s ability to work and focus?

  • How far your dog is from the distraction.
  • The distance you are from your dog.  The closer you are to your dog, the more confidence your dog will have.
  • The value of the distraction.  High value reinforcements (A’s) used as distractions are more difficult for your dog to be right than low value reinforcements (C’s) used as distractions.
  • Whether the distraction is moving or stationary.
  • Whether your dog is moving or stationary.
  • Your dog’s basic temperament.  Some dogs worry about things in the environment; some dogs are very visually sensitive, some dogs have noise sensitivities, etc.

Watch your dog for signs of stress when working with distractions.  Your goal is to build confidence, yet not make your dog worry.

Some of the signs of stress are:

  • Ears laid back
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Mouth tight
  • Low body posture
  • Eyes wide or glassy
  • Tail tucked

If your dog is unsuccessful two to three times in a row, simplify what you are doing, BUT keep the distraction present.

Examples:  If you are working away from your dog (such as doing a recall), and your dog was unsuccessful two or three times, decrease the distance between you and your dog.  So, if you were standing 20 feet away when your dog was unsuccessful, shorten that distance to 10 feet, but keep the distraction in the same location.

Another way is to increase the distance between your dog’s position or path, and the location of the distraction.  So, if the distraction was 5 feet away from your dog or your dog’s path, move the distraction so that it is 8 feet away from your dog or your dog’s path.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Making it too easy. If your dog is right all of the time, you are not getting the most out of proof your training.   Your being wrong is your opportunity to show him how to be correct.
  • Making it too hard. When training, look to the 80% rule.  That is, I want my dog to be correct 80% of the time.
  • Correcting a dog that does not understand the skill. During proofing, I will repeat the proofing challenge 2-3 times.  If my dog is always wrong, he doesn’t understand the skill.
  • Simplifying too much when the dog is wrong.  Once my dog shows me that my proofing challenge is too much, I will gradually simplify until a proper proofing level is found.
  •  Once a dog knows a skill, luring can longer be used!

It is not bad for your dog to be wrong.  Your dog being wrong is your opportunity to teach your dog how to be correct.

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

This Month’s Challenge is ALL about staying OUT of the Exercise BOX!

This week we want to look at our training.  When making a training plan, think of and list all the individual skills your dog needs to complete a particular exercise.  Take  that exercise and break it down into all the tiny pieces that make it up.

For example the recall.  Individual skills would include the sit, staying as you walk away, staying as you turn around and stand there, waiting until called, coming immediately when called, the front, and finally the finish.  Teach, perfect, and proof each skill individually.  Once a few skills are perfected, start to combine them, two skills at a time.

Your Challenge this week

Above I have listed the skills in a recall, with what you have already learned in this class (games, etc.) write a training plan to train a RECALL.

  • Add into your plan what you will do on each repetition and how many reps.
  • What you will add where so you stay OUT of the BOX.
  • NOW, Go out and train what you have planned.
  • Video to post.

Video Notes: Poe and I are having a fun session working on Recalls. Haha. We have not really worked on “recalls” per say so this was an excellent training opportunity. What was mixed up with all sorts of RSG games and I found that the release though my legs needs work. Always a work in progress.

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

This week we start the Slow Hands from a Standing position.  This will help teach a solid position that will carry over to start-line stays or any stand in Obedience or Rally.   

Your Task for June Week 3

Slow Hand – Teaching in a Stand

  • Grab some treats and your dog.
  • Ask your dog to STAND and move a few feet in front of your dog.
  • Start to slowly deliver a treat from in front of your dog.   Reminder when teaching something new, we simplify!
  • As you bring the treat slowly to your dog, give him verbal feedback to tell him if he is right or wrong.
  • Release your dog from the stand position after delivering a treat, and play or engage with your dog.  This is his time for a mental break.
  • Repeat the sequence leaving your dog and delivering a treat from above your dog.
  • The sequence is – Stand your dog, leave 4-6 feet and then slowly deliver a treat, withdraw treat hand if your dog moves and give verbal input and praise, release.
  • Occasionally release with a Jump to Hand to keep your dog in an “active” state.

Remember this is where your dog learns that movement makes the treat go away!

Video Notes: This is a little extra. Poe actually does not know a stand yet. HaHa. What a great time to teach and show you how I teach. Details are in the “Stand” Classroom. Poe really did well and I love that in this first session, he started to think and anticipate the stand. If you look toward the end of the session, we even get a little slow hand work. Once I even withdrew my treat hand when he moved. Watching his response, he KNEW what the withdrawal of the treat hand meant. LOVE IT!


Slow Hand – Teaching in a Stand

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

The THUMB TOUCH (TT) can be used when you want your dog to focus on you.  Think about the possibilities.  The dog drops his head on turns, TT in the middle of the turn so his head is held up.  The dog stressing going into a ring, TT going into the ring.   The dog drops his head to look at rally signs, you got it, TT on the approach to the sign.

Your Task for July Week 3

TT – Wean off of the treats. 

  • Begin to vary when you  have a treat in your hand and 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 “positive reward marker” for ALL touches, including the ones that you do not reward with a treat.  Yes, you will make your marker words random as well but not until your dog has been proofed.

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 as you are moving. Keep your motion very slow to start and build on success and reward history.   Keep your hand lower to start training only raising it when your dog is confident.
  • Your dog will not try to touch your thumb if there is no treat in your hand.  Take your time weaning off and varying when a treat is in your hand.  Make sure your hand is low enough for your dog to easily reach.

VIDEO NOTES: This was a fun training session with Poe. We started weaning off the treat in my hand. The mark is given when Poe jumps for the TT, but the treat comes out of my pocket. Poe had no issues doing the TT without the treat in my hand. Why? He has loads of desire built in the act of the TT.


Transitions-Thumb Touch Weaning Off Treat

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

DIG work – Moving toward an entry is the start of great performance when showing.

It is time to get to work.  Set up or use an entrance such as baby gates, a gate going into your yard, a doorway, or a sidewalk between hedges.  Anything that will simulate an appearance of an  entrance.  Getting to the ring with focus is your first step to success in the ring.   Remember: one bad unfocused step can break a performance!

Your Task for July Week 3

  • Start with your dog playing.  After playing, walk slowly towards the simulated ring opening.
  • Ideas may be used such as, fence gate, doorway, between cars or shrubs.
  • Release and reward your dog BEFORE your dog acknowledges the opening.
  • Keep your rewards hidden until you break into a fun game.
  • This means BEFORE he actually LOOKS where you are going!
  • Repeat until your dog is confident.
  • The GOAL is to reward your dog as many times as possible BEFORE going through an opening.
  • Only when your dog remains confidently focused on you.
  • While training, mix up how you reward and what games you play.

This is a crucial part of your showing later.  Spend loads of time and don’t be in a rush to go “through” the opening.  It is your dog’s focus and attitude you are seeking.

TIP – When training or showing, our performance starts when you take your dog out of the crate and continues until he goes back into the crate.  Treats or rewards are NOT given at the crate after we show.  Instead, continue to work when leaving the ring.  Your dog gets rewarded for working/training.  Have you ever seen the dog that looks like he is beaten when he is in the ring BUT he becomes lively and pulls his owner back to the crate?  Now guess why?

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog constantly drops his head as you are approaching an entrance.  Work on upward releases BEFORE you get to the opening you are walking towards.  Make it fun to approach and rewarding to look at you when you are approaching something.
  • Your dog looks worried or concerned about going through an opening.  Use your Heeling Games to reward your dog BEFORE or AS you go through the opening.  Also, use many different types of openings so that your dog will generalize the behavior.
REMEMBER – It’s not about getting to the barrier it’s about building confidence and rewards so when your dog does come to a barrier, they are prepared and HAPPY.   It’s about the journey and not the destination.  

Video Notes: Poe is being introduced to DIG toward openings in this video. I was thrilled with how Poe did with this new challenge. My goal was walking toward the opening WITHOUT getting close to it. It is the confidence that I am striving for. Getting through the opening is NOT my goal. Focused confidence is! Poe is on his way.


DIG – Working towards Barriers week 3

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

How is YOUR RSG teaching going?

RSG Games (Ready, Set, Go) in your training will increase your dog’s “active” state and focus when in a stationary position or coming toward you and will greatly enhance your dog’s focus.

How are YOU using these games in training?

RSG Game Reminders

  • When leaving your dog, your treats need to be hidden from your dog. Do NOT advertise that you are going to play a game or that your dog is going to get a treat or toy!
  • INSIST your dog return to you FAST anytime you toss a treat!   This is a MUST!
  • Make it FUN and rewarding to get back to you.  This will increase your dog’s desire to RUN when coming back to you.
  • Work with your dog on your right side if you do a sport that requires your dog to line up on your right side.
  • Add a consequence if your dog looks away from you or becomes “inactive” such as the U-Missed It Game.

Questions? Ask DebbyQ