Focus Fun May Week 1

One of the hardest things about dog training is balancing between Desire and Precision.

DESIRE should ALWAYS come FIRST when training.


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This drill gets its name from my first golden retriever, Kandu, or Du as everyone knew him.   Hahaha.   He always DID.  :>)    As a pup, Du was into everything and my job quickly became keeping him busy.  He loved and wanted to see, visit, and be a part of everyone’s “life”.   Du was a handful and this drill is something I came up with just for him.  It helped teach him to focus and how to respond to commands regardless of what we were doing or where we were.

Since Du, I have trained this skill with all my dogs.  It teaches the dog to know where you are and be able to respond to commands at a moment’s notice.  Also, this drill improves both direct and indirect focus.

The following video is just one example of how important this skill can become and yes, this has happened to my dogs on more than one occasion.  This was Sly’s first time in Open JWW.  Thankfully, the incident did not adversely affect Sly or his career, but without his fast response, it could have been much worse.  His response is directly attributed to Kandu!

Goal – To begin to teach your dog how to comply quickly to the sit command.

Your Task for May

 Teaching the FUNdamentals

  • Start with your dog on leash.
  • In a low distraction area, start to walk on a loose leash with your dog.  This is not heeling, rather a loose leash walking.
  • While moving forward with your dog, give a sit command.  Praise your dog for sitting quickly.
  • If he does not, immediately step in toward him and abort the repetition.    Use a consequence such as a negative marker and or lightly pulling up on the leash, anything that you use when training.
  • Release your dog from the sit and start to walk again with your dog.
  • After a few steps, give the sit command again.  Praise and reward for effort.
  • NOTE:  I often do a few repetitions in a row.  I.e., walk a few steps, sit, walk a few steps, sit, walk a few steps, sit.

 COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Giving more than one command for an incorrect or no response.  When first introducing this concept to your dog, it is OK to repeat the command as you are add a consequence.   If your dog gives no effort to sit, use  upward tension on the leash.  In the near future we will expect our dog to perform the command the first time, every time, and in any location.
  • Waiting to see if your dog will respond to the command.  In the long run, waiting for your dog to see if he will perform a sit will teach your dog a “delay” in a command.  In other words, if I ask my dog to sit and wait 3 seconds to respond to compliance, then I am building in a 3 second delayed sit.  If you want your dog to respond quickly, YOU need to be ready to mark or abort an attempt that is less than your criteria.

Video Notes: Poe is learning about the Kandu drill in this vide. He does a good job. I did notice at the start of training that Poe was moving forward a bit. To help him learn correctly, when he would scoot forward, I would step toward him with 1 foot. Praise when he performed well and feed treats.



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Using the 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.  These games will greatly enhance your dog’s focus.

Goal – To continue to teach and build focus and desire with your dog by adding this new game as your dog is running toward you. 

RSG Game Reminders

  • When leaving your dog, your treats need to be in your right or left hand and 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.

Your Task for May Week 1

Game 9: Spit or Toss as the dog gets close to you.

  • Put your dog on a sit and walk away from your dog.
  • Turn and call your dog.
  • As your dog is coming toward you, take him by surprise and throw a toy or  spit/toss a treat at him.
  • Tell your dog to “get it” so he can go after or catch the toy/treat and have him return quickly to you.
  • Tossing a toy/treat toward your dog is a great way to SLOW down your dog.  I .e. if your dog has a tendency to run into you.  BUT use this game sparingly, since you don’t want to create a habit of your dog getting use to stopping too far from you.  Likewise, do not use if your dog comes in slowly.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Your dog shops on the floor for treat tossed.  Throw one treat at a time, and use treats that will not break apart.  Keep running back to you FUN by rewarding him by praising and/or feeding him higher value multiple treats or playing a great game of tug.
  • Your dog is anticipating the recall/game.  Good job on building DESIRE!   Now, start to balance game play and stay reinforcement, according to your dog’s needs.  If you have a high desire dog, balance games with rewarding the sit or stay more often.  If you need to build your dog’s desire, play more games.
This RSG Game will help slow down a dog that runs into or passes you.  Use it wisely.

Video Notes:  In this video, Poe is first in this video. Since he is still learning recalls and how to drive to me quickly, this is a game I will not use in regular training until I see he is driving to me.

Karrde and Riker are demonstrating this RSG Game.  I LOVE the way both boys are staying in an “active” state when leaving them in a sit.  While training, both boys “thought” about anticipating coming to me.  In order to maintain their sit stay, I rewarded each dog a few times in their sit.  OR after leaving, I praised my dog for effort to stay and “thinking” about the correct behavior.

Next, both Karrde and Riker have no problem with this game. I do notice Karrde thinking about anticipating and reward his effort to stay in place.  Also, I see Karrde starting to put on his breaks on the last repetition of this game.  That is telling me that I did too many repetitions with him.  No worries, a few other games will speed him up again!



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Watch2Win – Adding Duration

The progression of this game teaches your dog to remain focused on you for longer periods of time.  Your dog has no idea when he will receive a reward, or what type of reward you will have for him.  This duration of focus on you is critical no matter what sport or venue you choose to pursue with your dog.

Goal – To begin to add duration that your dog watches you when you break eye contact with him.

Your Task for May Week 1

  • Have your dog on leash if in an unenclosed area.
  • Engage and play with your dog by playing tug or the KrazyKookie Game.
  • Stop all interaction, break eye contact from your dog, and slightly turn away and then stand still.
  • Keep your face in your space, i.e. your face should be pointing in the same direction as your shoulders.
  • Your dog may quickly move and look at you, or it may take him a few seconds.  Wait him out and let your dog do the work.
  • When your dog moves and looks at you, wait 5-10 seconds before looking at your dog.  No MORE.  Build reward history!
  • Waiting 5-10 seconds will begin to build FOCUS DURATION.
  • If your dog maintains focus on you, praise, and start to interact and reward your dog by playing tug or the KrazyKookie Game.
  • Over several training sessions, continue to RANDOMLY increase the amount of time your dog looks at you prior to giving him a reward.
  • Work up to your dog focusing on you for 30 seconds before rewarding your dog.
  • Build a history of success and reward!
  • Once your dog can hold his focus on you, start to vary the time you wait before rewarding him.  Sometimes wait 4 seconds, other times 20, or sometimes 10 seconds before engaging with your dog BUT no more than 30 seconds.   Let’s build a solid foundation and desire for the task.
  • Your dog should start trying to engage with you quicker each time you stop interacting with him.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Trying to HELP the dog focus on you.  If after a reasonable amount of time (60-90 seconds), your dog still has not looked at you, STOP the session and put your dog in a crate.  Before starting the game again, make sure your dog is hungry and bored (put him in a crate a few hours before training).  Review foundation steps to make sure the skill is understood.
  • Your dog seems to get stuck and cannot seem to be able to move.  Take a step back and away from your dog.  Often exaggerating the error, kicks the dog’s brain back into working mode.
  • Your dog is not giving you effort.  Add a consequence such as the U-Missed It Game if your dog disengages from you.  Once your dog has sustained focus on you, 10 seconds, reward him with the KrazyKookie Game or short tug session.

Video Notes: First in the video, I am starting to add focus duration on the W2W drill with Poe. He is doing a great job with remaining focused on me whether I am looking or him or not. Poe is ready showing me that he is ready to move on in training.

Video Notes:  Karrde and I are working on W2W.  We are just starting to add duration to this skill.  When he seeks my face, I praise and reward.  I like to review foundation skills before adding difficulty.  I.e., duration or pivoting away.  A few times, Karrde gets stuck or is not sure what I expect.  I just wait him out and even move away from him once when he is stuck for too long.  This just helps to unstick and jump start him again without me actually interacting with him. 

Later in the session, when I start to pivot away from Karrde, he works even harder to maintain focus.  I praise for his effort, but wait a few seconds before giving him a reward.  This will help build his confidence and desire as well as start to add duration.  I did make a mistake in this training session.  Having my other dogs in the building while training this skill was a bit too much distraction for Karrde, but he seemed to work through it, and I was pleased with his effort.

Video Notes:  Sly has played this game before, BUT this is a great review.  I am a firm believer in reviewing the foundations on a regular basis.  I look over or out away from Sly, but can still see what he is doing out of the corner of my eyes.  Sly LOVES this game and works hard to solicit my attention.  At the end of the video, I even “test” Sly’s knowledge of criteria by quickly turning away from him.  See how Sly drives to stay engaged and maintain focus on my face?   Sly passed the test. :>)    This skill is teaching Sly, that if he stays focused on me, he can push me to reward and start the play! 



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Lastly, we are adding Remain With Me to our Balance list.   This is out last piece of the BALANCE drill.  For this skill we DO NOT say the “With Me” command.  Rather, this is where, when your dog comes to you, he is expected to remain in your “space” until he is told differently.  This will help teach your dog he cannot leave you without permission.

Goal – To complete the Balance training by adding that your dog remain with you until commanded to do differently.

This Drill is awesome for many reasons.  Anytime you are out training or showing, and you see a problem such as, your dog leaving you, not coming when called, breaking stays including start-line stays, or becoming clingy, practice this drill.  It is a great way to re-BALANCE your dog and his skills.

Your Task for May Week 1

Balance Remain With Me.

  • Have your dog and bed in a low distraction location.
  • Treats and toys MUST be in your pockets, and NOT in your hands.
  • Stand with your dog close to the bed.  Since we are adding a new skill, we will simplify by being close.
  • Send your dog to his bed and toss a treat on the bed to reward your dog.
  • Release your dog by giving your “come” command, praise and reward your dog when he gets to you.
  • Stand still and wait.  If your dog remains with you, praise him and move one (1) step away from your dog.
  • If he remains with you, moves with you, praise, and give a few treats.
  • Consequence – if your dog wanders off, mark the incorrect behavior, calmly go to your dog, take his collar, and move back to the area you were in.  Let go of his collar, if he stays with you, praise your dog.
  • Send your dog back to the bed and reward by tossing treats on the bed.
  • Call your dog to you and praise.
  • Take one step away, praise your dog if he stays with you, and reward with a number of treats.
  • Repeat the sequence a few times building distance only once your dog is going to the bed and comes to you.

COMMON ERRORS – Handler Make

  • Increasing your distance too quickly.  It is better to stay close to the bed and practice perfection before challenging by adding distance.
  • Not rewarding enough for your dog’s effort.  The reward should be given anytime he is learning a new skill or sequence.
  • Repeating the same sequence too frequently.  Anytime you see your dog anticipating, check to see if you are doing the same sequence over and over.  Keep your dog guessing by changing up what you do.
 Use all the balance skills with your dog on a regular basis and your training will be a balanced event.  :>)  




Video Notes:



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week

Focus Fun A-Z 2023-Training-Log-


Questions? Ask DebbyQ