Focus Fun September Week 4

DogIf you had to GRADE your dog training and showing practices,  what grade would you give YOURSELF?

Page LinksTopicMonthly Drill ProgressionLine-UpsRing-A-LingReady2Show?ReviewPDF Files

How Do You Grade Yourself?

If you had to grade your dog training and showing practices, what grade would you give YOURSELF?

Base the grade on effort and time spent in planning training sessions, thinking about goals, consistency when training your dog, and working on YOU (handling an metal), either by continued education or fitness.

Many of us get by with just an “average” grade spending some time in planning training but rarely set goals.  Sometimes, we fail miserably, rarely putting any thought into how or what to train, or even when or where to show, much less looking at our physical and mental ability.   Inconsistency in training often results in a confused dog which in turn demotivates the trainer.

Do you feel like you only give 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%?  Maybe you only spend a small amount of time, if any, planning your training sessions, taking training notes, and setting goals, knowing full well that you should have done more?

So how would you grade yourself?

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Now is the time to rehearse your PLAN!  Once you have come up and tested your Warm-Up, it is time to rehearse your plan at a show or match.  This will help you decide if you need to change and or update your plan.

You do not have to be entered in a show to practice!

Have everything ready BEFORE getting your dog out.  All equipment ready to use and toys and treats hidden.

When rehearsing your warm-up, mix up what and how you interact with your dog and help keep him “on his toes”.  Be prepared and have consequences in mind if your dog fails to meet criteria.

TIP – EXPECT attention, don’t beg for it!

Your Task for this September Week 4

While rehearsing your warm-up, keep in mind that you want to; 

  • Work on focus out of the crate, and while you put the leash on your dog.  If it isn’t perfect, put your dog back in the crate, close the door, and try again.  Do not progress until you get the criteria you want!
  • Engage with your dog.  Start with a fun game of tug or the KrazyKookie Game.  Continue until your dog engages happily with you.  If he is distracted, play a U-Missed It Game or put him back in his crate and try again later.  We want to build on success.
  • While walking toward the ring, work on heeling, backing your dog up, mix in some touches or transition games.  Does your dog preform each skill and transition game to your criteria?  Have a consequence in mind so you can respond as needed.   If your dog seems dull or disinterested, consider playing a few games with a U-Missed It consequence.
  • Maintain all your criteria, and require attention and prompt responses to all of your commands just like you would in training.
  • Avoid advertising rewards.   Keep them hidden and in pockets.  Only pull them out when you see maximum effort.
  • Your GOAL is to expect  and have your dog to stay engaged and attentive.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Not having a plan in mind before taking their dog out of the crate.  Being prepared for all possibilities will be your first step to success when showing.  Have consequences in mid as well IF your dog doesn’t give effort!
  • Using lures or visible rewards when warming up.  If your dog needs lures, he is not yet ready to show.  :<(
  • Letting their 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.
  • Overworking a dog during a warm-up.  Each dog needs a different length of warm-up.  The “instant on” taught in this class will help teach your dog to turn on quickly. Rehearsing your warm-up is a great way to develop duration in working/training.

Rehearsing your PLAN!

  • Did you get out all equipment and treats prior to getting your dog?
  • Where did you rehearse your warm-up?   A fun match or a show?
  • Are there any changes or additions you feel are needed to your Warm-Up?

Post your list On the Facebook group!

Video Notes: In this video, we are rehearsing our Warm-Ups at a show.  When arriving at the show, both dogs were allowed to go potty, and then we played to our crating area, where the boys were put in their crates.

Riker is first to train.  When coming out of his crate, I ask for focus and leash on focus.  Then, we practiced backing up while going to a ring.  Riker did great backing between crates with barking dogs.  I did notice a glance away once when going past a few people.  This is something we will put in our notes to practice more.  We do a few thumb touches, front, and a line-up then ended place him in a settle, acting “as if” we are waiting to go into the ring.  Because he has a tendency to revv up, I like to give him a bit of a relax time before heading into the ring.  This is a warm-up Riker and I have practiced quite a few times.  The skills we use are not always identical or in the same sequence, but it gives us a chance to get into sync with each other.

Next is Sly, and he loves to back up when going to a ring.  I find that backing up is a GREAT warm-up as well as helps us connect with each other.  Because of Sly’s age, I do extra warm-up with him.  We do heeling and line-ups, a few fronts, and pivoting as I feel it helps with flexing his legs and back.  The floor is slippery, so I was careful what we did so he would not strain himself.  Sly was placed on a settle ready to go into the ring and I loved that I could watch the ring and he remained focused on me. 

Questions? Ask DebbyQ

The last step is testing Line-Ups at matches or in locations and places that will resemble shows.  You can set up a ring or similar or go to a training facility where you will have access to a show type environment.   Be creative and imaginative inventing your own games to use on “Line Ups.”  Have fun training 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 or when going to matches for the remainder of your dog’s career.

Your Task for this September Week 4

Preparing for the Show Ring

  • Have an area that simulates a ring.  This can be an actual ring or barriers and equipment that you set up.
  • Plan where you will go to do your line-up.  Will you line-up near a baby gate, table, or jump?
  • Have in mind how you will get there, what transition games, etc. will you play on your way to your line-up spot or once there.   Will you sit your dog or play a game instead?
  • NOTE:  I use the example of a sit at the end of a Line-Up, but it can be a down, sit, stand or even a game.
  • Once you perform your Line-Up, praise and play with your dog.
  • Keep your dog engaged while leaving the area.
  • Repeat the process in different ways and using different games.   Add one (1) short skill and then break and play.  Example: line-up in front of a jump and do a stay then brake into a game or have your dog jump the jump and the release and reward. OR leave your dog for a recall or signals and break into a RSG game as you leave.
  • Think of all the ways you might need to Line-Up in the ring,  write your ideas down and practice them all.
  • Be ready next time you show!
  • Make your Line-Up a great FUN activity.   :>)

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Doing Line-Ups without periodical rewards and games.  Keep your training fun and spontaneous.  Your dog will become more focused and enjoy training and showing more.
  • Rewarding incorrectly.   Keep your reward where you want your dog to be.  In this case, in heel position.   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 Notes – In this video, Sly, Riker, Karrde, and I are practicing Line-Ups for Rally or Obedience.  Of course, this training can be used for any sport that you enter a show ring or area.

Sly is first.  We work on entering the ring and rewarding.  The reward will be anything from treats to tug to praise and petting.  He LOVES lining up and finds it a very rewarding activity all in itself.

Riker is next.  He too loves this activity.  We enter the ring in various ways and even work on the Leash On/Off skills.  We add pivots and when he hits a chair with his rear end, I bump up the praise.  He will now associate hitting objects as a positive thing.

Last up is Karrde.  He is just learning about this skill and we are still building desire.  First, we work on him backing into the ring.  Hahaha.  Very hard for him, but I love the effort he offers.  Sorry, Sly is the noise maker in the background.  Karrde gets loads of reward for all his efforts.  His desire to do the skill is great, but he will continue to get more rewards for a while longer as we work on precision.

Video Notes – Karrde, Riker, Sly and I are working on Line-Ups for the Agility ring in this video.

Karrde is first in the video.  The environment is a very exciting place for him and is hard for him to control himself.  We add in Leash On/Off to our session too.  Overall, I am very pleased with his effort but I do see more work ahead of us.

Riker is next.  We also add Leash On/Off. Riker and I do several repetitions, approaching the start line several different ways.

Sly is last in the video.  We walk between two chairs as an entrance while practicing.  While training, I add games and fun when Sly does a great job.  When training, it will be important to practice lining up in front of different obstacles.



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

The final step in “Ring-A-Ling” is starting to sequence entering the ring with a skill.  It’s important to work on this and keep your dog is engaged without extra cues, visible or advertised rewards.

This training is geared toward getting ready to show and NOT for everyday skill training!  A good trainer NEVER sequences the same pattern or combination of skills on a daily basis. 

Have a plan before you get your dog out.

  • What will you sequence in the training session?
  • Which transitions you will use to and from the ring?
  • What consequences will you use if needed?
  • Where will your Line-Up be?
  • To start this step, pick 1 skill to start if you are doing Obedience, one sign if doing Rally, or a drill or simple combination of 1-2 obstacles if doing Agility.   You can build from there BUT not until your dog shows desire and confidence.
  • Which games will you use randomly or where will you add a surprise release?

Your Task for this September Week 4

Sequence skills.

    • Use transitions and games to work to the ring keeping your dog in an active state and focused.
    • Once in the ring, practice leash on/off if taking your leash off.
    • Engage with your dog, using transitions, to your starting point and Line-Up.
    • Randomly surprise your dog with a game or reward and leave the ring to restart the training process. In other word, do not complete the sequence, instead reward your dog for effort.
    • Restart the sequencing again.  Transition to the ring, once in the ring practice leash O/O.  Start your planned sequence either doing a surprising game OR when complete, transition your dog to the gate, use the leash on/off skill if your dog’s leash is off.   NOTE: randomly reward your dog for focus with leash O/O.
    • Keep any skills you sequence short and quick.  Anytime you leave the ring, maintain focus with your dog.
    • Once you are finished, transition your dog to  a crate, and analyze how the training went and any changes for the next session.
    • When your dog show desire and confidence with easy sequences, add 1 more skill, obstacle, etc.  This could take MANY training sessions.  Do not rush the process!
    • Examples when training a sequence:

    Obedience Example:  A recall.  I work with my dog into the ring, maintaining focus and line-up.  I will leave my dog as long as he remains focused and active.  Depending on my dog’s level of training, I will break into a Ready Set Go Game (RSG) while walking away, or if my dog remains focused, I will turn and praise.  During the training session and if my dog’s focus remains good, I will add in a recall and a front with my dog.  Caution: DO NOT always finish from a front.  Break and play, or reward and release, at least 50% of the time when leaving or calling your dog.

    Agility Example:  Set up 1-2 jumps.  I work with my dog into the ring, maintaining focus and line-up before the first obstacle.  As long as my dog remains focused, and active, I will leave and start walking towards and or past the first jump.  On the way, I will either throw a toy back to my dog, or turn and release him to take the first obstacle.  While training, I will add more obstacles only as my dog gains confidence and remains focused and in an active state on the start stay.  As a general guideline, I will add games randomly while doing this training to maintain or build more desire.

    COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

    • A dog loses focus and keeps looking at the gate opening. 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.
    • Letting the dog worry when starting to go through the gate.  Take time to reward more when you are approaching the opening.  Do not rush the process or try to go through the opening before your dog is ready.
    • Letting sequences to become boring.  Break up and randomly reward all portions of a sequence.  This will keep the training fun and your dog in an active focused state.

    Followed are examples, 2 Obedience videos and followed with 2 Agility examples. 

    Video Notes:  In this video, Sly, Riker, and I are training for Obedience.  While training, I used different transitions while going into the ring, line-up, or leaving the ring.  Also, I praised for effort and added in random releases and rewards.

    Sly is first and the exercise I have picked to train is a Recall.  We work on entering and lining up for an exercise.  He bumps into the ring gate and is rewarded.  Leash on and we train leaving the ring. Next, Sly and I work on going into the ring and knocking down the ring gate.  Hahaha.  Kidding, but I LOVED that the gate falling did not bother Sly at all.  During this session, I liked Sly’s effort and attention going into the ring and the leash on/off skill.  He stays in an “active” state while I walked away from him too.   All this is great habit building for showing later.

    Riker is next.  In the first repetition, marker 3.29, Riker lost focus on me.  I pushed him and laughed, then we restarted the process.  We will not continue training a sequence if there is an error.  When Riker gives effort and focus, I release and reward with a thumb touch.  Riker is just starting this concept. 

    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:  In this video, Sly, Riker, and I are sequencing Agility drills.  During this training session, the boys and I work on going into the ring, and lining-up with focus.  We use a variety of transitions to go into the ring and practice with my dog on either my right or left side.  I spend extra time rewarding my stay, this keeps my dog “active” and focused while I do a lead out.  Note, we work on leash on/off skill in every repetition.  BAD TRAINER!  I should have rewarded, at least one great effort from each of my dogs on the leash on/off skill.  I build distance only as my dog shows confidence and stays focused as I walk away.  Never will I continue with a sequence if my dog makes an error.  Even when we leave the ring, we work on leash on/off focus and maintain focus out of the ring.

    My goal when training sequencing is to rehearse all the “habits” I would like my dog to have when we show.  Focus, active stays, and engagement are all number 1 on my list. 

    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

Are you really ready to SHOW?

Resist the temptation to enter your dog before he is truly ready.  Have you heard or said the following.  

“My friends are going to Nationals, and I want to go too, so why not enter?”
“My breeder/friend says I should already be showing.”

Entering a show with the hope that your dog will perfect an exercise, may only result in frustration and disappointment for you both.  Set your goals and decide what level of performance you expect from your dog.  When your dog performs the exercises in a confident, reliable, and accurate manner, in a variety of circumstances and situations, it is time to send in the entry fees!  Do not sabotage your dog’s show career for one show.  Hahaha.  There will always be another show!

TEST before Entering

How can you test?  It is easy.  Go to a new location with distractions.  The distractions do not have to be a show environment or even dogs.  It can be a busy park, a shopping center store front, etc.  Take your dog to the new location.  Leave your dog in the car.  Set up any equipment you will need.  Without any treats or toys, get your dog out and go the new spot using your transitions.  Immediately start training.  No!  Do not do a “run through” BUT do train duration before releasing.  In other words, train for a length of time to build the duration your dog can work.

For example, assume that I am thinking about showing in Open Obedience.  Before getting my dog out at the new location, I will set up whatever I am going to use during that training session.  No, I do not need to train every exercise in a single training session.  When I get my dog out, I will transition or stay engaged with my dog from the crate to where we will train.  BTW (By the way), I expect my dog to stay engaged with me without my having to lure, ask, or work hard to keep him engaged with me.  We will move to where we will do the first bit of training.  We will do a bit of heeling with a few moving drops/sits and release.  Then I will transition my dog to another area where we will do a retrieve or a drop on recall.  Many times, I will set a timer for 4-5 minutes.  When the timer goes off, my training session is over, and I will transition my dog back to his crate.  That is my training test for that day.  ONE MORE IMPORTANT THING!  I ALWAYS video the test!

Before entering a show, I like to test my dog’s knowledge of his job.  This will give me an idea of his knowledge, and enable me to better access if it is time to send in the entry and spend my $$$.

Your Task for this September Week 4

When you are ready to TEST, use the following to plan your session.

  • Pick 3 skills you will use in the test.  When testing for Agility, I will pick 5-10 obstacles depending on the level we are testing.
  • Think which games, transitions, or how you will move from the crate to the test area, and back to the crate.
  • No ADVERTISING treats or toys!  Make a plan of hiding treats/toys on your person or pre-place treats/toys in the area.  If having rewards on you, be sneaky about putting treats/toys in your hand or mouth.
  • Go to your training location, set up your camera, and any equipment you will need.
  • Set your timer and get your dog out to transition to your test area.

After your test session video review.

  • Were you obvious or sneaky putting treats/toy in your hand or treats in your mouth?  Note: when putting treats in your mouth.  Do you do this when your back is to your dog?
  • Did your dog respond quickly and with accuracy to all your commands and signals?
  • Was your dog happy and confident doing the TEST?
  • Did you give your dog and extra commands, verbal encouragement, leash corrections, or help?
  • How did the session go?  Was it great or :<(
  • Do you feel you are ready to enter a show?

Video Notes:  In this video, Sly and Riker are doing an Obedience Pre-Show Test, followed by Sly demonstrating an Agility Pre-Show Test.  The following are my thoughts when doing the test as well as watching the video.

Sly.  Skills – Heeling, Figure 8, and Recall.  Thoughts after the test.  Overall, I felt Sly had awesome attention.  He was not distracted by yard men that were working nearby.  Sly’s heeling, while good, needs some work. His rear end was flaring out on about turns, and he was pushing forward a bit too much.  The Figure 8 was good, although the flaring of the rear end was happening a bit on the outside post.  The recall was awesome and with beautiful attention and the front was perfect.  The great front deserved a reward instead of doing the finish.  Watching video notes.  Hahaha.  This is why I love videos, I forgot to note, that our line-ups need some work.  Sly was a bit high, and I caught myself using my left to get him into position.  Oops, flare on right turn too.  Crooked sit because of a flare.  Line up for recall nice, and his focus while I left him was awesome!

Riker.  Skills – Heeling, Figure 8, and Sit and walk around.  Thoughts after the test.  Riker did a good job. He had a little bit of hesitation on our first step of heeling.  Riker seemed a bit distracted with the yard men that were working near us.  We will need to go to and train in more new locations.  His effort was good, but he needs a bit more work on driving on the about turn.  Sit Stay was great and he seemed very steady.  Riker did a great job and gave loads of effort.  Watching video notes.  Yep, hesitation on thet first step in heeling, but it improved as we continued.  Would like more drive on the about turns and outside post of Figure 8.  On the list is to go to more new locations to train, also to build duration while heeling.  Lastly, we need to polish up transitions, too.

Sly.  Skills – 8 obstacles with Dogwalk and A Frame.  Thoughts after test.  Very pleased with his reaction to cues. He stuck his contacts, too.  :>)  Watching video notes.  Good focus into the ring.  Good start line stay. He handled the backside well, BUT he was guessing a bit between the jump near me, and the jump behind me.  The backside skill needs more work.  Rewarded after Dog walk.  Great test!



Questions? Ask DebbyQ

Wow, it is that time again for a monthly review!

Monthly drills- Warm-Ups.  This month we planned out, practiced and rehearsed a warm-up.  As we have worked on Warm-Ups we have seen the importance of warming our dog up both mentally and physically.  Continue to work on improving your warm-up with your dog.  And remember that it might need tweaked and improved as you two become and team and your dog get older.

Line-Ups – During the month, we taught how to Line-Up as well as move at your side into a Line-Up.  Since the Line-Up starts all runs or exercises, it is important to continue to work on and build desire as well as maintain focus with games and fun releases.   Consistent training AND rewarding of Line-Ups will ensure that the first step in the ring is a successful one.

Ring-A-Ling – What a fun drill to teach your dog that the ring is a FUN place to be!   Entries into the ring as well as playing in the ring is a great start to build desire in that environment.   Once the desire and fun is built, we started to add sequencing into the drill.   Take your time and periodically revisit this drill and keep your dog loving the ring!

Ready2Show – While this was only in Week 4, it is important to know how to “test” your dog BEFORE sending in your entry fee.  Showing too soon and when your dog is not ready and create an unpleasant feeling for the ring to your dog.



Video Notes:


Questions? Ask DebbyQ

PDF Files useful for this week




Questions? Ask DebbyQ