Focus Fun July Week 4

Training Tip and image ..

first of month – challenge instead of topic

goal is 4 skill topics per week

Page LinksTopicMonthly Drill ProgressionTransition GamesRedirect2WINDIGPDF Files

Topic –

Topic – Focus on the handler during the exam whether a stand for exam, moving stand, or signals as well as when person or judge approaches table, start line stay etc. .  How to keep a dog focused and in an active state.

Yes, any stand with exam can be very challenging ESPECIALLY for a dog that loves people. Been there!  My golden, Solo, LOVED people.  We did all the stay training in this class.  I also do lots of Ready, Set, Go Games.  We played the RSG Games as people were approaching, touching and examining him as well as when the person was walking away.  Yes, you read it right.  I would release him for a game during the stand and while others were going over him.  I started playing the RSG Games with him on the Novice Stand way before we ever showed.

I started up close and adding the RSG Games, 95-100% of the time.  Over time and with success, I gradually increased my distance from Solo.  I had built such desire in watching me, he would never even think of looking at someone else.  Remember to teach the RSG games first in a sit, then a down and finally the stand.  When teaching the Stand for Exam or a Moving Stand, start close and gradually add distance.  DO NOT add another person into the mix until your dog is confident and knows his job and the games.  When adding the new person, start-up close again.  Always simplify when increasing difficulty.  With time and patience your dog can have an awesome moving stand!

I spend loads of time training and making the “HABIT” of always giving focus on line ups, recalls, etc.  In the video below, I am doing the games when my dogs are paying attention OR setting them up with proofing.  DO NOT proof your dog unless he knows his job!




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intro backing

Moving Backward is my FAVORITE transition game.  First, it is a great way to warm up your dog before training or showing.   Backing up also helps to keep your dog’s focus on you, is an easy way to get through the crowds, AND it is fun!

What You Need

  • 2 leashes.
  • Soft treats that your dog loves.
  • Low distracting location like your living room, a hall, etc.

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.


  • I like using 2 leashes that are attached to my dog’s collar.  I put one leash in each hand.  This helps me to encourage my dog to move to the right or left to maintain being in front of me.
  • Attach both leashes to one collar with the clip under the dog’s chin or if using 2 collars attach one leash to each collar with one on each side of the dog.
  • Keep your arms and hands close to your side and your feet pointed toward your dog.
  • Begin with your dog standing in front of you, and focusing on your face.
  • NOTE: hanging a visible treat from your mouth will help your dog focus on your face.
  • Take one step towards your dog.
  • Praise your dog for ANY movement or for stepping back.
  • Reward your dog for movement while he is standing rather than sitting.


  • 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.
  • 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 he moves backwards.
  • Over time, increase the number of steps you take to 5 before rewarding your dog.
  • Reward your dog while he is in motion.
  • Keep the number of steps you take before rewarding your dog to a minimum.
  • If your dog is successfully backing 5 steps, add 2-3 more steps, but continue to move slowly, reward frequently and ALWAYS give your dog a lot of verbal feedback.

Bump It UP!

  • Now that your dog is backing up while in front of you, start asking your dog to back while you slightly turn to the right or left.
  • Turn a small amount, and give your dog praise and REWARD for any effort.
  • I find it helps to apply tension on the leash to the side you are turning toward.
  • Keep your arms and hands at your side.
  • Slowly increase the amount of the turn while you are backing.
  • Reward a lot for any effort from your dog.


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 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 visa 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.




Proofing – Once your dog will walk backward and in front of you at a normal pace, start adding a few
simple distractions to test your dog’s knowledge of the skill.

For example:

Have your dog walk backward in front of you as you walk through a ring gate opening.

  • Walk your dog backward past a person or another dog.
  • Walk your dog backward past chairs, jumps, trash cans, etc.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Hands held out and away from the handler’s body.  Hold hands close to your body.  This body posture will transfer easier on the finished skill.  The photo to the right is wrong.   :>0
  • Rushing the training or going too many steps when first teaching your dog.  This skill takes a lot of time and patience to train, take your time and build a history of success and reward.
  • Lack of reward and verbal feedback.  Let your dog KNOW when he is doing well!
  • Handler DUCK walking.  LOL.  The handler’s feet apart and walking one step, then the other around the dog.  Many handlers do this to avoid stepping close to their dog.
  • Not building DESIRE before asking for precision.  The more reward and encourage the better!


Video Notes:  Riker is in the first clip and is learning this skill.  I use a lot of praise and reward for all effort he gives.  I prefer to use 2 leashes when I train this skill.  This goes back to my old horse back-riding days.  :>)


NOTE: how I keep my arms close to my body while tightening the leash.  Also, I give Riker verbal information, and spit treats to him as he is moving.

Sly is in the second clip and he LOVES this skill as you can see by his enthusiasm.  Again, I toss or spit treats to Sly while he is moving.

Rip is in the next clip.  He has been doing this skill a long time, and although not as flamboyant as Sly, Rip has fun backing up too.  Even with my experienced dogs, I randomly reward backing up, by either spitting or tossing a treat. 

Finally, there are a few clips of a dog show.  This skill is great for going into, or coming out of the ring.  Be sure if you are in the ring, that you do not want to waste time, or delay the ring.  My end goal while doing this skill, is that I am moving with my dogs at a normal pace.

Your Task for this Week 




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step 2

Redirect/WIN 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.


    • Get your dog, a leash, and some yummy treats.
    • With your dog on leash, go to and walk around your front yard.  We want to start with light distractions to teach the proper response.
    • When he 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 he 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 his collar, ask for him to sit, and feed him a number of treats.
  • Release him from the sit and begin walking again.
  • Always reinforce this command by praising your dog as he moves toward you and feeding him high value treats when he gets to you and while he is in a sit.

Bump up the Skill

  • Once your dog is responding well, it’s time to start adding more distractions.
  • Over training sessions go to new locations such as parks or retail stores.
  • Save the most distracting locations for last, training buildings and dog shows.
  • Always simplify in new location by staying further away from distraction and reviewing criteria of the skill.
  • The GOAL is to be able to Redirect/WIN in any environment and with all distractions.

This is an easy way to redirect your dog from a distracting situation.  Say your dog’s name OR “come” while taking a few steps away from your dog and the distraction.  As soon as your dog turns toward you, reward him with several pieces of “high value” food.  Many times this exercise will defuse an adverse situation.

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.   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: This is Poe’s first effort at Redirect/WIN skill.  We stopped and trained at a few places while I was out running errands.  Each session has been just a few minutes.  I would rather spend a few minute at several places rather than all my time in one place.  

Poe picked up on this very well.  Distractions were a bit high for his first attempt, but overall did well.  I would have simplified anytime if I felt what we were doing was too much for him.   When training, I waited until Poe became distracted to practice the Redirect and praised big time while holding his collar.  

We stopped at the vet’s office and got a bit more training in.  This was a great opportunity to show how I address a dog that starts to bark at a stranger.  Redirect and insist he sit in front.  We will definitely continue to work on this.  

Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ

DIG – people – DIG work with moving people and strangers moving behind


Steps to Success ~ This week recruit a friend and their dog to help you.

Moving towards a stationary dog.

  • Start with your dog in a stand, sit or fall into heeling from play.
  • While your friend’s dog is sitting or is in a down, slowly heel your dog toward the seated/down dog.
  • Release and reward your dog BEFORE your dog acknowledges the other dog. When you release your dog use any of the heeling games or the Jump to the Hand Game.
  • Go back to where you started and again come towards the sitting dog. This time try to get a foot closer to where you released your dog before.  If you dog looks at the sitting dog, mark the distance.  Go back and try again only this time release your dog before he looks at the sitting dog.

Moving towards a moving dog.

  • Start with your dog in a stand, sit or fall into heeling from play.
  • While your friend’s dog is walking, playing, or heelingslowly heel your dog toward the other dog.
  • Release and reward your dog BEFORE your dog acknowledges the other dog.
  • Repeat coming toward the moving dog again, releasing before your dog acknowledges the other dog.

Remember that distractions initiate games (DIG) from you!

  • Repeat the sequences until your dog is confident. This may mean practicing many repetitions in several training sessions.
  • Watch your dog for lack of focus, or signs of worry and stress (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.
  • If your dog makes a mistake, is he afraid, distracted, or is he blowing you off? Does he know the skill? Being able to answer these questions will enable you to help your dog to be successful in any situation.
  • Remember to use the “heeling games” to keep your dog focused and motivated.
  • Use a consequence like the “u-missed it” game when your dog is not giving 100% effort or loses attention.

Proofing against distractions is a lengthy process. Do not rush or take shortcuts.

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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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