Focus Fun June Week 2

Training Tip and image ..

first of month – challenge instead of topic

goal is 4 skill topics per week

Page LinksTopicMonthly Drill ProgressionReadySetGoSlow HandTransition GamesPDF Files

Topic – Videos – why do videos?  I highly recommend that you video your training sessions at least one or two times a week if not more.  If you are having challenges in your training, videotape it!  Even if it’s just a few minutes of taping, you will be amazed at what you will see!

There are MANY benefits of videotaping your training sessions.  You can see what you and your dog are doing when training. 

While watching your video, look for the following:

  • How are you moving your body?  Choppy?  Slower or faster than normal?
  • Are you giving extra cues or gestures you aren’t aware of?  Leash or hand movements?  Extra shoulder motion?
  • How is your timing of verbal markers?  Did you mark the portion of the behavior you meant to mark?  Or unwanted behavior?
  • How and where are you rewarding your dog?  Proper reward placement will enhance your training while incorrect placement or use will sabotage your training.

Videotaping also gives you the opportunity to watch your dog’s reaction to commands, releases, and corrections.

  • Does your dog release on a verbal or physical cue?
  • Did your dog release himself when you didn’t intend it?
  • Are your dog’s responses to commands or signals prompt?
  • What did you do when your dog didn’t respond quickly to your command/signal?

Finally, you will have the chance to see if there are any imperfections in the position or attention you might be missing.

  • Is your dog’s position consistent in heeling or on contacts?
  • Is your dog speeding up or slowing on cue or when called?

You will be surprised at the imperfections, miscues, and extra “help” you can see when reviewing your training and showing videos.  Go for it!  You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself and your dog!

Video Sessions – When I first started training dogs, I used a camera to video at least 2 of my training sessions every week.  Sometimes, it would be out in the front yard, and other times I would go to a new location.  After each session, my dog would go into its crate, and I would spend some time reviewing the video.  I looked for any head drops from my dog, incorrect handling cues or turns, my dog’s response to my cues, and general appearance of our team.  To this day, I still feel that all the time reviewing videos, sharpened my “EYE” to see errors and mistakes.  It is a MUST for all dog trainers!

Easy way to video training.

A tripod or chair allows you to press the record button and film a little of your training, then watch and analyze what is happening.  You will be amazed how much you will see and learn!

Here is the tripod that I use when I am out and about and want to stop and train.  It is easy to use and set up.

Once you have videoed your training session, slow down the video to analyze how you and your dog did.  You can post the video on YouTube to save your video and if you do not want anyone seeing it but you, set it for “private”.

YouTube NOW offers playback in slow speed, but it’s not obvious to find.  To adjust the playback speed, click the “Settings” icon in the lower-right corner of the playback window, then click the “Speed” selector.

Here is an example of how to video a training session.

  • Go to a training location.
  • Before getting my dog out of the crate, set up any equipment we will need for the training session, and set my video camera or iPhone in a good location.
  • Cones can be placed out for a reminder of the camera frame  the edges.  Beyond the cones, I will not be in the video.  Note the photo to the right where the cones are placed.
  • Once set up, I take my dog out of his crate and train and ignore the camera.
  • The session will be kept short, 5-10 minutes.
  • After training, I engage with my dog to maintain focus as I take my dog back to his crate.
  • Then it is video review time.
  • I will note any “help,” “lures” or “extra commands” I gave, how my dog responded to commands, and if my timing was consistent, etc.

With time, viewing your training sessions will improve your training as well as your “eye.”

Questions? Ask DebbyQ






Questions? Ask DebbyQ


rsg proofing coming

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 




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slow hand down position

Your Task for this Week 




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Transitions Games – Spin/Twirl Progression – proofing?  weaning off food in hand?

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 4

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.

reminder for SPIN  & Twirl – 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.


  • Weaning off the visible lure.  Once your dog is correctly spinning and/or twirling with some speed, ask for the skill WITHOUT the treat in your hand.  Praise your dog lavishly for correctly spinning or twirling.  Now alternate having a treat in your hand and begin rewarding your dog on a random basis.
  • Once your dog is doing Spin and Twirl easily in front of you, move your dog to your left or right side.  Ask your dog to Spin or Twirl at your side.  When your dog is spinning and twirling at your side, begin to move forward at a slow pace with your dog.   Add a spin or twirl as you slowly heel or walk forward.
  • Proofing is the next step in training.  Once your dog is GREAT with the Spin and Twirl, bump up or PROOF your training.  Proofing ideas include having your dog do a Spin or Twirl next to a chair, table, person, or dog.
  • Proofing between objects is another good proofing addition is to have your dog do a Spin and Twirl.  I.e.,  between objects replicating a gate opening such as in a doorway or between chairs.
  • Lastly, proofing against your rewards.  Place your dog’s favorite toys or treats on the ground of chair for your dog to Spin and Twirl next to.

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. 



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week

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


Questions? Ask DebbyQ