Focus Fun June Week 1

Training Tip and image ..

first of month – challenge instead of topic

goal is 4 skill topics per week

Page LinksMonthly ChallengeReadySetGoSlow HandTransition GamesPDF Files

balance toys and food

do’s and don’ts

how to

only on known skills that have been proofed to some extent

challenge …

an easy skill … sit ..

visible treat when teaching

random rewards — no rewards in your hands

mark and reward best efforts



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

proofing leaving

Using the RSG Games (Ready, Set, Go) in your training will enhance your dog’s focus, increase your dog’s “active” state when in a stationary position, and become a great tool to increase focus when proofing.  Also, RSG games are wonderful to help build your dog’s desire to remain engaged while you are leaving, turning to face, or calling your dog.

What do you do when your dog loses focus or becomes inactive?   Why not add a consequence if your dog looks away from you or becomes “inactive”.  Break into a RSG Game, but don’t let your dog get the reward of the game.  Tease and taunt your dog with the reward.  Let your dog think he might get the reward, instead pretend to eat or play with the toy yourself.  Be theatrical and have fun without your dog.  This will make your dog want it even more.  After, repeat the skill and reward your dog IF he gives more effort and focus.  Simplify the exercise if needed to make sure that your dog understands and is rewarded for focusing on you.

RSG Game Reminders

  • When leaving your dog, your treats need to be in your right or left hand and hidden from your dog.
  • If you throw treats, throw only one treat at a time, and use treats that will not break apart.
  • INSIST your dog return to you FAST!   This is a MUST!
  • As soon as your dog returns to you, reward him by praising and playing a GREAT game of tug, or the “KrazyKookie” Game.
  • 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.
  • Do NOT advertise that you are going to play a game or that your dog is going to get a treat or toy!

RSG games can be used during recalls, signals, broad jumps, start line stay, the table as well as contacts and more!  Mix and match which games you use and keep your dog guessing what you will do next.

Ways to increase and TEST your dog’s focus.  PROOFING!

  • Go to a new location, such as a show.  Practice in different locations on the show site increasing the distraction level ONLY as your dog show confidence.  At first, start your game closer to your dog.  With success, increase the distance you are from your dog before breaking into a game.  Randomly, turn to your dog, praise, and return to reward your dog for his stay.
  • Use distance and space to increase your dog’s confidence.  When using people as a distraction, start your game closer to your dog, and have the person in a sit or stand about 5-10 feet from your dog.  Either move the person closer OR increase the distance you are from your dog before breaking into a game as your dog stays in an active focused state.  Randomly, turn to your dog, praise, and return to reward your dog for his stay.

PROOFING is done slowly and methodically over a vast amount of time and throughout the career of your dog.

Here is an example of what a training session might look like.  

  • Pick an appropriate location for your dog’s level of training.  This will be dependent on your dog’s age and level of training.
  • Practice leaving your dog for a skill.  Example: leaving your dog for broad jump, start-line stays, signals, with your dog on a table, etc.
  • Break into a RSG game at various distances from your dog.  In other words, when leaving break into a game when you are a step away, or half way on the side of the jump, or once you have turned at the side of the jump.
  • Randomly go back and reinforce your dog’s stay with a slow treat delivery, or throw a reward back to your dog, or release your dog to run to you for a game of tug or the KrazyKookie Game.
  • Periodically do the skill you set your dog up for BUT do less of the exercise and more of the games.
  • If your dog loses focus or becomes inactive, break into a game with the U-Missed It Game.   Your dog missing the fun and reward is a great consequence.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Advertising a game is coming.  When you are going to play a game, sneak the treat or toy into your hand BEFORE throwing or turning to face your dog.  Make it a SURPRISE!
  • Turning slowly or starting the game in a hesitant manner.  Be quick when you start a game.  The quicker the better.
  • Slowly walking away from your dog.  When leaving your dog, walk off “as if” you are in the ring.
  • Forgetting to reward the dog occasionally for the stay.  Training is all about balance.  Always watch your dog when leaving him on a stationary position.  If he starts to move off the stay position, balance your training by rewarding the stay more often.
  • While playing a game your dog stops and shops on the ground.  If you throw treats during training sessions, throw one treat at a time, and use treats that do not break apart.  Make it urgent to hurry and get back to you.  As soon as your dog returns to you, reward him by praising him and feeding him multiple higher value treats or play the KrazyKookie Game or playing a game of tug.  Also, go back and review the “Get It” Game.  It is important to build the HABIT of your dog picking up and dashing back to you when a treat/toy is thrown.
  • Your dog has great focus when you are close to him, but it wanes when you are farther away.  Vary the distance your dog is from you when you begin a RSG Game.  Start close and only over time and success gradually add distance.  Do not be in a rush to build distance.  The more thorough you are building focus and distance, the more desire you will have in the future.
  • While working on exercises or skills your dog’s attitude and focus deceases.  It seems he is inattentive and bored.  Play RSG games routinely and randomly to help maintain your dog’s interest, focus, and desire. Balance game play according to your dog’s needs.
  • Your dog is fast when you call him and he knows you have toys/treats.  Do not use a lure to “speed your dog up!”  Instead, hide all treats/toys and play games spontaneously when your dog least expects it.

Video Notes: In this video we are demonstration RSG Games in action and a few examples of working on proofing the RSG Games.

RSG in action.  In the first section, Riker, Karrde, and I are training various skills adding RSG Games.  Riker and I are working on the Broad Jump.  Notice the active sit that he maintains through training.   Then Riker and I practice his 2o2o contact behavior.  This training ensures he hits his criteria, BUT also stays focused.  Karrde and I work on his table down behavior.  His criteria are the stay active and release quickly.  These games will reward and enhance his focus and desire to do my criteria

RSG Proofing – In this section, we are testing the dog’s focus and confidence lining up next to a person.  It is great to release him from the sit INSTEAD of doing a full length recall.  We want confidence and desire!  We only increase the difficulty of the drill as the dog is exhibiting confidence.  If he is not, we isolate the position or section that needs to be rewarded or applying a consequence to get the dog to try harder.

Lastly, Karrde and I are working on the RSG Games at a show site.  This is the first time we have worked in a distracting location, so I picked an area with moderate distractions.  This will challenge and test Karrde’s ability to stay focused and in an active state.  When starting this session, I broke into RSG games close to Karrde.  This will build the desire and focus that I will want when we are showing later in his career.  As we progress in training, I get further and further away as he shows confidence and understanding of his job.  Overall, I was thrilled with Karrde’s ability to focus even though people were walking nearby and dogs were barking in the background.  When I felt he was waning on focus or glimpsing away, I broke into a RSG game and instead of letting him get the reward, I played U-Missed It as a consequence.   The variety games were played at different distances to continue to build his focus.


Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Slow Hands is how I reward my dog while he is in a stationary position.  This skill serves several purposes.   First, it teaches my dog that impatience makes the reward go away.  Also, it starts to add duration and proofing to stationary positions such as a sit, down, or stand.   Lastly and probably the best, it is a great way to reward and encourage self-control.


  • Grab some treats and put your dog on a leash.
  • Ask your dog to sit, as this is the easiest position to teach this skill.
  • While your dog is still in a sit, move a few feet in front of and face your dog.
  • Start to slowly deliver a treat.
  • As you bring the treat slowly to your dog, give him verbal feedback to tell him if he is right or wrong.  For example, while bringing the treat to your dog, if he starts to move, simply tell him “no” and quickly withdrawal your treat hand.
  • See if he will sit again on his own.   If not, place him back on a sit.
  • As soon as he is seated again, tell him “good dog,” and begin to slowly deliver the treat again.
  • Release your dog from the sit position after giving your dog a few treats, use your release word and play or engage with your dog.  This is his time for a mental break.
  • Repeat the sequence a few times.  Sit, slowly deliver a treat, withdraw treat hand if your dog moves and give verbal input and praise, release.

Bump the Skill UP – Increase the distance and reward delivery angle; vary your dog’s position.

  • After your dog is able to hold a sit 90% of the time and in various environments and situations, while the treat is slowly delivered, start to lengthen the distance and angle of the delivery of the food.
  • Examples- Hold the treat at his eye level or above his head, or from his right or left side.
  • IF at any time your dog starts to move or lean forward, QUICKLY withdraw your treat hand.
  • Remember this is where your dog learns that movement makes the treat go away!
  • Release your dog often and ask your dog to sit again and then reward at different angles.
  • When working on the sit, vary where your dog is sitting in relationship to your body.  Sometimes have your dog sit at your side or sometimes have your dog sit in front of you.  You can also ask your dog to sit and move your own body so that you are standing beside your dog or standing in front of your dog.  All of these changes help your dog to understand the skill in all situations.
  • Continue to gradually increase the distance (up to 6 feet) you are from your dog before slowly delivering a treat.
  • Add other positions such as the down or stand only when your dog is rock solid on the sit.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Progressing too quickly.  Make sure your dog really understands his job before adding duration or distance.
  • Helping the dog to be correct.  I.e. delivering the treat quickly so the dog will not move.  Let your dog learn remaining still will get loads of treats, moving make the rewards go away.
  • Not withdrawing the treat hand quickly Really exaggerate moving your hand away.  This communicates to your dog that he has lost the opportunity to get the treat.
Give your dog verbal feedback to let him if he is right or wrong when training the Slow Hand skill.  For example, while bringing the treat to your dog, if he starts to get up, simply tell him “no” or “wrong” and quickly withdrawal the treat.  Only after your dog seats himself will you start to deliver the treat again.


Video Notes: First in the video, Karrde and I are working on Slow Hands.  He has only done this drill a few times, so we start easy and keep growing the drill with Karrde’s success.  While training, I noticed that Karrde is looking away from the treat hand.  This is effort to be correct, as he is trying to ignore the treat so he will not get into trouble.  BUT I do not want him disengaging.   If he looks away, I stop motion and wait until he looks back.  When he does, he is praised and I continue my slow hand toward him.  During this session, we try from a down position as well.  When he moved, I marked the error and then placed him back on the down, I do not give another command.   At the end of our session, we added the Jump To Hand game randomly to keep Karrde on an ACTIVE sit.


Next in the video, Riker and I are working on his sit and remaining in place.  We have started adding distance between him and me during training.  Riker gets a reward occasionally just for the sit.  This is to maintain the “sit” behavior.  Once, Riker thinks about moving for the treat and thinks twice and decides to remain in place.  He got loads for praise for choosing correctly.






Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Transitions Games – Spin/Twirl

Transition Games are one of my favorite SECRETS.  I use transition games to move my dog from his crate to the working area or show ring, and back to his crate again.  I also use these Transition Games during training and in the show ring while moving between exercises, lining up for a start line stay in Agility, or Nosework, or any exercise, etc.

People often “lose” their dogs between exercises when showing, because their dogs are looking around and not focused on them.  During training, play tug and do things to keep your dog’s focus as you move around.  However, you cannot bring toys or treats into the show ring.

The Transition Games, that I teach you in this course, CAN be taken into the show ring to keep your dog’s attention and focus on you. Transition Games need to be taught, have desire built, and should be practiced and proofed like all skills and exercises.

What You Need

  • Soft treats your dog loves.
  • LOW distracting location like your living room, or training building with only you there, etc.
  • Tug toys if your dog love to tug.

Your Task for May Week 3

Both of the following skills are great Transition Games to keep your dog’s attention and focus on you AND they are also great tricks that are sure to please your friends and a crowd.  In addition, they are wonderful exercises for your dog’s flexibility and warm-up before training or showing.  These Transition Games easily blend into obedience, rally, and agility training.

SPIN – teaches your dog to turn clockwise on command.

  • Have your dog standing in front of you.  This is a relaxed stand and not a command.
  • Place a treat in your right hand.
  • Lure your dog in a CLOCKWISE direction, with the treat in your right hand making a complete circle.
  • If your dog has a hard time doing a complete circle, slow down the motion of your hand and hold the treat closer to your dog, so that the treat encourages your dog’s head to be level.
  • After a few repetitions, introduce a command, “SPIN” as your dog is moving.
  • Practice several times before going to the next skill, Twirl.


TWIRL – teaches your dog to turn counter-clockwise on command.   

  • Have your dog standing in front of you.  This is a relaxed stand and not a command.
  • Place a treat in your left hand.
  • Lure your dog in a COUNTER-CLOCKWISE direction, making a complete circle.
  • If your dog is not able to do a complete circle, slow the motion of your hand and hold the treat closer to your dog so that the treat encourages your dog’s head to be held level.
  • After a few repetitions, introduce a command, “Twirl” as your dog is moving.


COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog will not turn when teaching the Spin/Twirl.  Slow down and keep your signal hand lower.  Praise and reward your dog while he is turning.  Say YES or use your positive marker, while your dog is in the middle of the turn.  After a few repetitions, your dog will be able to complete the turn.
  • Your dog will not Spin/Twirl while you are moving.  Practice walking very slowly and lure your dog for a few repetitions if needed.  Wean off any luring quickly.


Video Notes: Here Poe and I are working on Spins and Twirls.  Overall, he does a great job.  During the session, we break periodically for tug and to give his brain a rest.  I find brain breaks are important for any dog learning new skills.  Over time and more training sessions, I will ask for faster turns and will add verbal cues.

Video Notes:  Sly and Riker help demonstrate the teaching steps on Spin and Twirl.  Sly is first in the video and he LOVES both of these Transition Games.  We work on Spin/Twirl in slow motion, with a treat in my hand, and Sly in front of me.  Then we progress to working on the skill at a faster pace and a treat in my hand ever other repetition.  Sly and I then try the skill without a treat in my hand and a smaller hand signal.  Once I know Sly is confident with the skill, we move him to my right or left side.  Finally, we do the skill while walking slowly forward. 

Riker is last in the video.  We do the same sequence I did with Sly.  Slow exaggerated hand signals with a treat.  Then a faster, smaller signal, and finally weaning off the treat in signal hand.  Skills on my right or left side, as well as  while walking forward at a slow pace. 

Your Task for this Week 




Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week

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


Questions? Ask DebbyQ