Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Focused and Fun

Today my F is for FOCUSED and FUN. Who doesn't like to have to fun?!? I know our dogs are especially excited for fun things :). And excitement feeds motivation, which gives us a willingness to work that will light our training sessions on fire!

Many times people and their dogs get bored practicing the same exercises over and over during training. That isn't fun for anyone! Think of new ways to practice behaviors - hide and seek for recalls, new places (like on the stairs or in the bathroom) for stationary positions, incorporate novel objects (like boxes or hula hoops), or use toys and play intermixed with the cued behaviors. I try to work as much play into a training session as I can!

Monday gives great focus :).
Which brings us to focus - the more fun your dog has while training, the more likely they will remain focused on you. Focus is key because how can your dog learn what you are teaching if he's not paying attention? :) Here are a few tips to help build focus and maintain the fun:

  • Keep training short: 5-10 minute long sessions a few times a day is easier for the dog to handle. Also make sure to end your training sessions while your dog is still interested in working for you, leave them wanting more :).
  • Work at the right pace: try to structure your sessions so that your dog remains successful the majority of the time. You want to shoot for 80-90% accuracy before making your training harder.
  • Add distractions early: once your dog has mastered a behavior, incorporate distractions before adding the other two variables (duration and distance). For a good example of this check out the two videos I featured in my Stay post last month.
  • Vary the reward: change up the type of treats you offer (remembering to keep them high value) to keep it interesting. Toys can also be alternated with food or with other different kinds of toys. I like to also employ fast movements and games of chase - what dog doesn't enjoy a quick game of chase? :) I use that a lot when working on loose leash walking.
  • Be in the moment: this one is for us :). Make sure to give your dog your full attention - remove distractions like TVs and phones. If you want your dog to focus on you, you have to give them focus right back.
  • And remember to ALWAYS EMPHASIZE THE POSITIVE (plus check your attitude!). Positive reinforcement training builds confidence and joy and in training.

Keep training light and fun for your dog (and you!) by effectively using food, play, and plenty of praise and enthusiasm. How much fun is your dog having?


  1. I just might be a dog expert by the time this challenge is over. Thanks for all the information you share! :)

    1. That is the goal! :) There will be lots of information this month :)

  2. Awesome tips, especially keeping it to a short interval several times a day instead of one long grueling session. :-)

    1. Yes, short and sweet is the way to go! I know my attention spans are more suited those anyway :)

  3. Stopping by from

    So far, your A to Z topics are spot on. Proper food, exercise, and training = healthy, happy, bonded dog and human.

    Glad to have found your site for sure.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! There's tons more coming throughout the month :)