Focus Fun September Week 2



Page LinksTopicMonthly Drill ProgressionLine-UpsRing-A-LingTransitionsPDF Files


The problem ~  When showing, your dog is leaving to sniff or go visit?   There might be several problems or a combination of issues contributing to the sniffing.

1) Stress of environment.  I.e. New places/shows seem to create stress. Is the trainer going to “new” locations to train on a regular basis? This doesn’t mean other training facilities. The new place doesn’t have to have ring gates or rally signs to be effective. Examples could be store fronts, outside dog park fences, business centers on the weekends, etc. It is the “new” that is getting the dog. When going to a show, you are going to a “new” location. Even if you train at that facility on a regular basis the environment is a new one when you go there to show. Why? Different dogs, people, and new atmosphere add to a heightened level of excitement and stress.

2) Stress of inconsistency.  I.e. what does the criteria of a skill really mean? This refers to the trainer not asking their dog for skills to be performed the same way anytime or anywhere. For example, is the skill “sit” always performed the same? At home, in the ring, out running and playing with other dogs, or chasing a squirrel etc. When asked to “sit” does the dog sit the same way and speed every time? If the dog is expected to sit in 3 seconds, then the sit should always be 3 seconds. In order for a dog to know how to perform a command/skill in the ring and under stress, the skill/command should be performed to the same criteria every time no matter where or when.

3) Stress of emotions.  I.e. mom is nervous when in the environment (the ring) and so the environment must be a bad place. Making sure the ring is “fun” is important for a dog to learn in order to perform in a confident relaxed manner. How? It is important for the trainer to be able to control emotions when in the ring. How do you do this? 2 ways – first, the handler should practice mental toughness training (there are loads of resources out there and I feel truly a must, for anyone doing competition of any kind). Second, confidence in what the dog has been taught. My question to students often is “will you bet me $100 that your dog will perform all the skills needed for the ring if you enter?” If not, then your dog might need more training and proofing before he is ready to show.

4) Stress of lack of reinforcement. Have you gone to the next step in training or randomizing your reinforcement? It is important in training to wean off giving your dog a reward every time he does a skill. Once your dog knows a skill, it is time to pick the best efforts and reinforce only those worth the reward. Examples, if you ask your dog to sit five times, pick the best 2-3 sits to reward. Too many times trainers get in the “habit” of always giving a reward for every repetition the dog gives. The result then becomes your dog will not work if not getting a reward. In the ring your dog must be able to chain a number of skills together to create the performance. Randomizing your reward in training will help accomplish this goal.

5) Stress of poor rapport. The one main thing you take into the ring with you, besides your dog, it the relationship you two have. Good rapport and steady consistent leadership will be clear whether you win or qualify. You and your dog will look like a team. This relates mainly to everyday life with your dog. Does he work for affection? Treats? To go outside or to play ball? How many times during your daily walks have you trained your dog? It is easy to incorporate training into everyday life. Ask your dog to do a skill or two before getting his meal. When out for a walk, ask your dog to do a trick or come to front. When playing ball, ask for a drop or a sit while the dog is running to the ball or coming back to you. It is easy and once you have established the habit of training 24/7 your dog will find time with you reinforcing and fun.

The issues above are easy ones to fix.  Take your time and consider how you can add and or adjust training and everyday life with your dog to benefit showing.

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Just like any athlete, your dog needs both a physical and mental WARM-UP before training or showing. There are many ways to warm-up your dog, and each dog will need his or her own personalized way to prepare to go into the ring.

What happens outside the ring, impacts what happens in the ring!

Your Task for this September Week 2

Make a PLAN –  The next phase of creating a WARM-UP ROUTINE is to make a plan of how to warm-up your dog while keeping him on his toes.  This step gives you the tools you need while getting your dog ready and focused on you before going to the ring.

While warming my dog up to show, I often do maneuvers that will test my dog’s focus and awareness.  These will be maneuvers my dog will not be expecting, and I will do them in situations where my dog would be anticipating something different or I feel he is not totally “thinking” about me.  In addition, I will occasionally throw in a command my dog is not expecting such as a moving drop or spin.

For example:

  • I will do unexpected stops or freezes of motion while doing turns or walking past people or objects.
  • I will give commands that my dog isn’t expecting, such as if he looks away, I will give a drop/down command, or while we are moving through a crowd/chairs I will give a touch command, etc.
Keep in mind; anytime I ask my dog to perform a command, I expect that my criteria for that command MUST be met.  No matter where or when the command is given.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Not having a plan in mind before taking your dog out of the crate.  Being prepared for all possibilities will be your first step to success when showing.
  • Reverting back to luring when the dog will not focus.   Keep the rewards hidden and give in a surprising manner.
  • Letting your dog go inattentive.  This will become a slippery slope.  If your dog is out, he needs to be focused on the task at hand.  Letting him do anything other than that will become a “grey” area for your dog.

Making a PLAN!

  • What type of warm-up does your dog need?   Go out to potty?  Jumps or muscle warm-ups?
  • Does your dog need more self-control worked into a warm-up?
  • Is there a weakness in a skill your dog needs tuned up before showing?

Post your list On the Facebook group!

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Practicing Line-Ups will establish a “HABIT” that will help you and your dog to walk into a ring with confidence.  The more confidence you have in what you have taught, the better your dog will perform and the less likely your run will go south.

Challenge for September Week 2

  • First, we need to be able to move into a Line-Up with ease.
  • No special equipment or area is needed.
  • Pre-plan a few spots/ locations that you will move toward.
  • With your first location in mind, move forward with your dog on your right or left or your dog moving backwards in front of you.
  • Use your transition games!
  • Once at that location, Line-Up your dog, and praise, reward and play for his effort.
  • Move to your next planned location and move into a line-up.  Then head to your next location.
  • Repeat this process over many training sessions until your dog and you can confidently move to any area and perform a line-up.
  • ALWAYS praise, reward, and add games.  Make the “act” of lining up FUN.

Here are a few examples of how to use games and rewards to keep your dog engaged and excited about training or showing.

  • As you with your dog move from point A to point B, surprise your dog with a game, a thumb touch, or jump up to get a toy/treat.
  • While heading towards or performing a “Line-Up”, have your dog go through your legs, and come up to your right or left side.
  • As you are lining-up, use a command your dog is not expecting, such as a down, sit, or spin.
  • Add in turns or pivots before you ask your dog to sit at the end of the ”Line up.”  For example, practice an about turn to the right or left, or a right or left turn, and then have your dog sit.  Encourage your dog to sit promptly one step out of the turn.

Be creative and imaginative inventing your own games to use on “Line Ups.”  Have fun practicing with your dog! Once your dog’s focus and desire is apparent, continue to play a variety of “Line Up” games at least fifty percent of the time during training sessions for the remainder of your dog’s career.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Rewarding incorrectly.   Keep your reward where you want your dog to be.  In this case, at your side.   BUT adjust the position as needed to enhance your training.  In other words, your dog sits behind you, reward a little forged and once the new position becomes habit, adjust again if needed.
  • Becoming boring on Line-Ups.  Hahaha.  This is easy to fix.  Be fun and reward a lot.  Mark the Line-Up activity something your dog looks forward to doing.


video – poe


Video Notes:





Questions? Ask DebbyQ

This week we are adding on to the Ring-A-Ling skill.  Rings can  often “feel” tight or confining to a dog.  Just think, there are chairs, jumps, walls, baby gates, people, etc.   

So this week we are adding skills, transition games, that you would use in a ring as we continue to build desire while being in a ring environment.   That is a great reason  to add thin into your training. 

Challenge for September Week 2

Building desire and adding skills in a ring environment.

  • When training this drill, have your dog on leash and on your right or left side.
  • Walk toward the “opening” maintaining focus from your dog. Remember to randomly add a surprising reward as you approach the entry.
  • Once through the opening, use transition games or play with your dog.  Thumb Touch, Spin, Line-Up, etc.   We want your dog to associate the environment with FUN!
  • When your dog does the skill, break and play tug or the KrazyKookie Game and leave the ring while you play, interact and engage with your dog.
  • As soon as you are out of the ring, stop playing BUT do stay engaged with your dog back to his crate.
  • The next time you go out training this drill, change to a new location and repeat the above.


  • Your dog keeps looking at the gate opening and not at you.  Reward your dog further away from the opening. If you were going to 5′ feet from the opening, start to play with your dog ant 10′ feet.  Continue to do so until your dog is excited to approach the opening.
  • When starting to go through the gate, your dog starts to worry.  Take time to play more when you are approaching and starting to go through the opening.  Do not rush the process or try to go through the open before your dog is ready.
  • As soon as you enter the ring, your dog starts to worry.  Only play and make the setting rewarding for your dog.  Do not add additional sills until your dog will readily play and engage with you.

Video – Poe


Video Notes:




Video Notes:  First in this video is Karrde.  He is just starting to learn this drill.  On our first attempt to go into the ring, Karrde dropped his head.  The consequence used was a spit treat that he was not allowed to get.  Instead, I teased him, then we tried to enter the ring again.  The second attempt was more successful, and Karrde was rewarded for his effort.  We then proceeded to do our planned training, line-ups and transition skills.  Karrde was actually better than I expected during this training session.

Next up is Riker.  He enters the ring like a professional.  Between our play sessions, we do some heeling, line-ups, and thumb touches.  During a section of the thumb touches, Riker was trying to see the toy I had in my right hand.   GREAT training opportunity!  When Riker does well,  he is praised and rewarded.  If he doesn’t maintain criteria, I give him a negative maker to let him know his effort was not correct.

Sly is last in the video.  He has years of a positive association in rings.  While training, I insist that Sly gives effort and also is accurate with all skills.  We practice, spins, line ups, thumb touches, and backing up.  Always great fun to train with Sly.

During all three training sessions, first and foremost, I want to build my dog’s desire and fun to be in the ring.  Next, is followed with my dog’s effort to perform, and lastly the accuracy of my dog’s criteria of skills.  As this drill is built, my dog’s focus will grow.

Video Notes: This video is Ring-A-Ling in an Agility training area.

First in this video is Karrde.  This is a tough location for him.  Right now, what I want from Karrde is focus and effort to perform skills.  Overall, he does a nice job.  When leaving the ring, he lost focus and as a consequence, I poked him in the side a few times and then played the U Missed It game.   He made an effort after that.

Riker is next.  He knows this game, so we can ask more of him during the session.  At first we play.  Then I take the leash off making sure he is focused on me as it is removed.  Leash On/Off.   After, we play and then I ask for a skill and play again.  This is how I build FUN.  I only build on a sequence of skills when I see Riker giving me his utmost.  A few times, I make sure he misses the toy I offer.  This too will increase his effort and focus.  We even work on a bit of Watch2Win that is taught in the Gmes4Focus class at the end of our session.

Sly is last and we are showing another twist on this drill.  This is a great “Rapid Fire” drill and really builds on focus and desire.  Go into the ring with focus, play, and leave.  Play outside, go inside with focus, skill, play, and leave again.  We repeat going in the ring with focus, doing a skill or two, then leaving again.

During this drill, it is always focus going inside, focus and play/skills while in, and then focus out.



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Transition Games that you have learned can be used to move your dog from his crate to the working area or show ring, and back to his crate again. 

When training or showing, TRANSITIONS are a great way to move with your dog in a motivated focused way.   Being able to sequence or use multiple transitions in a row will also aide your dog to keep engaged when training and showing.

Challenge for September Week 2

This week we are going to start practicing adding spin, twirl, thumb touch, and backing to your training.  This is the first step needed before using them in the ring.

While training try the following examples or mix up and make up your own.

  • Get your dog out of his crate and do the leash o/o:
    • Then with your dog at your side, use TT’s to your training area.
    • OR after the Leash o/o, have your dog walk backward in front of you as you move to your training area.
  • Once to your training area:
    • Train a skill and then use spin/twirl to keep your dog engaged while you ready for the next repetition.
    • After you have finished raining, use backing up OR TT back to your crate.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Not building DESIRE before asking for precision on transitions.  The more reward and encourage the better!
  • Letting your dog go inactive while training.   Instead use transitions to move around a training area.
  • Accepting your dog pulling to leave a training area or the ring.    Use transitions to move to and from training areas of show rings.  Build the “habit” of engagement.


Video Poe


Video Notes: 





Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week




Questions? Ask DebbyQ