Is there a difference between a skill and an exercise?

You bet there is!

What is the difference between a skill and an exercise????

An “exercise” is something I am required to do in the ring. It is a sequence of skills.  The Drop on Recall, Heeling, courses in Rally or Agility etc.   All of these are exercises.  They are the “Things” we are required to do at shows.

Skills, on the other hand, are individual tricks that we teach our dog.  As your dog learns more tricks, you can start combining tricks that will be combined together to complete an exercise at a show.

Think of all “exercises” as nothing more than a bunch of tricks chained together! 

So…. Tricks include things like going around me for the short finish, jumping to my either my right or left hand for the beginning of the long and short finish, successful completion of weave poles or contacts, etc.

When training, teach the skills first and separately.  Break down any exercise you might need for a show and teach all the skills in that exercise separately. Once your dog is proficient with all the skills, start to mix and match what you may need for a ring performance but also mix and match the skills just to be random and test your dog’s knowledge and understanding of all the skills.

My point is for you to start thinking out of the “exercise box”.   Don’t just train exercises.   Start training skills/tricks.   Proof and perfect each trick/skill to meet your criteria (which you should set high).   Mix and match tricks/skills, to test your dogs knowledge and have fun!!!

Please leave comments or email me with future article ideas at Ask DebbyQ. 

Visit my Youtube and watch training videos at

2 thoughts on “Is there a difference between a skill and an exercise?”

  1. Yes!! This an awesome way to explain this. I was in the exercise box, but you telling me to get out of it has been a huge help! I never thought of it this way before, but it makes so much sense. Thanks for all your great ideas!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading