Focus Fun May Week 3

Take your time and make notes when training and showing.
ALWAYS evaluate your training!

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Making Notes – a must for Training and Showing

Evaluate Training.  A common mistake some trainers make is forgetting to evaluate their training on a regular basis.  As a result they continue to do the same thing over and over even if it isn’t working.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein


There are a lot of things to evaluate after a training session.  For example:

  • Did you make notes when training or immediately following? You would be surprised how much is forgotten in a short period of time. Notes help you plan for future sessions and keep you from falling into bad habits or routines.
  • Did your training plan work?  Did you plan too much or too little for your session?  While we all want to train everything in one session, most of the time it is not practical and may often be too much for your dog.  Organize your sessions so you have just enough time to accomplish what you have planned. Be aware of problems that prevent you from having the time to train what you have planned.
  • Do you need to make changes to your future training plans? Did you reinforce and review foundations? Did you add enough or too much proofing? Did you think about going to a new location? When planning a session, make sure to include reviews of foundations as well as proofing skills.
  • If the session did not go well–what happened?  Where you able to fix the issue and if so how? If your dog never makes a mistake, he is not really learning. Problems are a part of the learning process and you need to be prepared to handle any situation. Be proactive in your planning. Think about what might go wrong and have training solutions ready before you take your dog out of his crate.
  • How long was your session? Did you train too long? Was your dog tired or did he became unfocused? Always end your session with your dog wanting more. This will keep him looking forward to training instead of dreading it!
  • Did you keep the session fun and motivating? What was your rate of reinforcement? Did you use a variety of reinforcements? Did you use a balance between food and toys? Variety is the spice of life! When training, take a number of different toys that your dog loves and a mixed bag of treats. Use some of high, medium, and low value treats for your dog. He will always be surprised when receiving reinforcements.
  • Did you video tape your session? Recording sessions is a great way to assess how your training is progressing. It will help you see issues you were not aware of or missed during training and will sharpen your eye for seeing problems in future sessions.

In addition to training notes, I like making show notes.  Some examples:

When showing in agility, I like making notes on a course map for agility.  I take the course map and circle specific sequences that created problems.  When I get home, I review the video to add to my notes.   Is my dog missing my cues, am I cuing late, are there any miscommunications and why it happened.  Later when training, I set up that section of a course and practice the skill for my dog and various ways of handling for me. 

When in Obedience,  as soon as I leave the ring, I note any areas of my handling that needs improving and any errors or missteps my dog might have made.  When I get home or to the hotel room, I review the video to add to my notes.  This also helps with future training plans.

When in Rally, I make notes on any signs that created problems for me.  Did I read or perform incorrectly?  Did my dog need additional cues?   Was he distracted or not giving effort.  Again, his is a great way to see holes and improve on my training plans.  Usually I do not set up Rally courses.  Instead, I will either take a sign and perfect it OR pick a section of a course and set up 2-4 signs to perfect and sequence.

There is a lot to consider when making a training plan.  Take your time, make notes when training and showing.  ALWAYS evaluate your training!

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

The Kandu drill is a great way to increase your dog’s focus PLUS improve performance of skills.  

Goals – This week is to adding a new low distracting location and using the sit and down and then mixing up commands to test your dog’s knowledge to the Kandu drill.


  • Use a NEW low distraction area that your dog has not been to train this skill.
  • Add a consequence if your dog does not immediately respond to your command.   Step 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.

Your Task for May


  • In a NEW low distraction area, using your sit and or down.
  • Start to walk on a loose leash with your dog.
  • While moving forward with your dog, give a sit/down command.  Praise your dog for complying quickly.
  • If he does not respond to your command, immediately step in toward him and abort the repetition.    Use a consequence such as a negative marker and or anything that you use when training.
  • Release your dog from the sit/down and start to walk again with your dog.
  • After a few steps, give the sit/down 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, down, walk a few steps, sit, etc.

 COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Giving more than one command for an incorrect or no response.  When working with your dog, it is OK to repeat the command as you are add a consequence.   If your dog gives no effort to down, use  a consequence.
  • 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 down will teach your dog a “delay” in a command.  In other words, if I ask my dog to down and wait 3 seconds to respond to compliance, then I am building in a 3 second delayed down.  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.
  • Increasing distractions too quickly.  Always build a solid foundation and reward  history BEFORE increasing the difficulty.


video poe new location


Video Notes:



Video Notes: Karrde is learning how to do the Kandu drill in new locations.  We are in the training building with low distractions.  Karrde does well, but I felt his response to the “sit” command was a tad slow.  As a consequence, I quickly add a slight pull up on his leash.  This is letting him know he is not responding or sitting fast enough.  He does not get rewarded on every effort, rather I save rewards for the best efforts.  Also, during this training session, I utilize slow delivery of treats to reward stays.



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Using the RSG Games (Ready, Set, Go) in all of your training will enhance your dog’s focus, increase your dog’s “active” state, and become a great tool to increase success when proofing.

Goal – To continue to add new games and to teach, build focus and desire with your dog when he is in a stationary position or running toward you.

RSG Game Reminders

  • Keep ALL treats 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 or toy!   This is a MUST!
  • Make it FUN and rewarding to get back to you quickly by adding KK or tug EVERY TIME your dog comes to you.
  • Work with your dog on both your right and left side.
  • Add a consequence, such as the U-Missed It Game, if your dog looks away from you or becomes “inactive”.

Your Task for May Week 3

Game 11: Run Away

  • Put your dog on a sit.
  • Walk away from your dog.  Turn around and face your dog.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths.  This is a great way to proof and test a stay.
  • Now call your dog.
  • Once your dog is coming toward you, surprise him by running away from him.  When he catches you, greet him with a game a tug or the KrazyKookie Game.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Advertising that you are loading up with treats/toy OR that a game is getting ready to begin.  Be fast and unpredictable when you are going to break into a game.  Keep your dog guessing.
  • Once your dog is in a sit, you creep or walk away slowly.  When you leave your dog, walk away “as if” you were in the ring.  Brisk and with purpose.
  • Not keeping an eye on your dog as you are leaving.  Use a mirror or assistance of a friend to let you know if your dog looks away of becomes inactive.

VIDEO NOTES: Poe is the first in the video and is just learning the RSG Game 11. He does a great job and I am pleased with his effort.

Next is Karrde and he is still learning the games as well as how to stay in position until he is released. At one point, Karrde moves thinking I am getting ready to play a game.  A GREAT training opportunity!   He is placed back in the sit, and I walk away again.  I go back to him to reward, but he insists on moving his front feet.  Karrde has been an interesting dog to train and we are still learning about each other.  One thing I do know, Karrde loves motion and only remains still because I ask.  Hahaha.

Riker knows this RSG Game, but during our session, and as I am leaving, Riker moves as I shift a toy in my hand.  TRAINING OPPORTUNITY!  Again, I leave him and repeat shifting the toy and he sits still and is rewarded with a thrown toy. 



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

 Watch2Win – new location medium distractions

Once your dog is present in focusing on you when you are not looking at him or while you are turning and while in a new low distracting location, it is time to increase the distractions and make it a little harder for your dog to remain focused and engaged.

Goal – To continue to grow the W2W game.  It will not be long before your dog will be able to go to distracting locations and require automatically focus and engagement.

Only move to this level, if your dog has been successful with the previous steps.   The more reward history and success your dog has, the better!  Build a solid foundation.

Your Task for May Week 3


  • Use VERY HIGH VALUE rewards and have a hungry dog.
  • Increase distractions.  When visiting new locations, keep it easy by looking for an area where there are few people.  New locations are often very distracting by themselves.  While we want your dog to be challenged, we also want him to have a reasonable amount of success.
  • Success is your dog being correct at least 80% of the time.

Adding distractions.

  • Go to a new low distraction location.
  • Play with your dog, then stop all interaction with him.
  • When your dog re-engages and looks at you, back up or turn, keeping your face in your space, and periodically break eye contact.  That is DO NOT look directly at your dog.
  • Your dog is required to remain engaged and looking at you for a short time 10-30 seconds.  If your dog continues to focus on you, reward your dog with a KrazyKookie Game or a brief tug session.
  • NOTE: If your dog disengages with you at any time, turn away from your dog.  Once your dog moves and looks at you, praise your dog, then again move slightly.
  • Simplify on the next repetition by slightly decreasing the duration you are not looking at your dog.
  • If your dog does not look back or attempt to engage with you at all, use a U-Missed It Game as a consequence.
  • When you are finished training, end the session with your “that’s all” marker, praise and tell your dog that he is wonderful.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • The handler isn’t keeping their face in their space Move your feet only and not your shoulders or head.
  • Too much work and not enough play.  When training, keep rewards plentiful and breaks often.  Play breaks are an opportunity for your dog to relax and de-stress.
  • When going to new locations your dog looks away.  If your dog disengages with you at any time, turn away from your dog.  Once your dog tries to engage and looks at you, praise your dog, then again slightly move.  If your dog continues to focus on you, reward your dog with a KrazyKookie Game or a brief tug session.
  • Your dog seems too distracted when going to a new location, he almost seems overwhelmed.  Make sure you are not increasing the difficulty level too fast.  When going to a new location start a bit further from distractions. Play and engage with your dog before starting to train.
  • our dog disengages with you during your movement.  Once your dog moves and looks at you, praise him lightly, then begin to move around again.  Give your dog feedback and encouragement.  If your dog continues to focus on you, reward him with a KrazyKookie Game or a brief tug session.
This game will teach your dog that he can make “fun” happen if he focuses on you.   In other words, your dog can push you to start playing!


new video poe



Video Notes: In the video, Karrde and Riker are working on W2W in a new location.  This is a more distracting area for training.  There are loads of vehicle noises and there is a basketball court over to the right. 

Karrde is first.  This training area is new for Karrde and I know heading out that he may not be ready to be bumped up with this level of distraction.  At the start, I make a classic handler error.  I do not engage with Karrde when we are heading out and reaching the training area.   Also, I do not have my treats ready.  :>0   At marker 0.32,  Karrde moves around in front of me to focus on me.  We kick play into gear and he loves the reward.  Karrde does find the area distracting, but I am thrilled with his effort.  He takes glances away, but does learn that looking at me makes me happy and is rewarding for him.  Karrde  needs more training sessions at this location BEFORE kickin up the distractions. 

Next, Riker and I venture out to the same area.  I play with Riker and then we start our training.  Riker just shines with the challenge.  No noise distracts him, and he remains focused the entire time.  We are even able to add duration to this session.  It will not be long before Riker will be able to go to a new location and automatically focus for engagement.   I.e.  Focus will then be a HABIT!



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Balance low distraction home – come, go, with me and sit/down

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 portion of the 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 3

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 – Handlers 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 poe in garage


Video Notes:





Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week

Focus Fun A-Z 2023-Training-Log


Questions? Ask DebbyQ