Clean Run - July 2013 - 55

Look!

Teaching
Dogs Where
to Focus
By Sandra Rogers, photos by Laura Tsuk except where noted

© istockphoto

Having trouble finding enough hours in the day to train the basics let alone all this fancy “extra” stuff coming from trainers
who spend a lot more time training than you can? I get it; my
students have jobs and families, too. But this skill is so cheap
and easy to train, with such high rewards, you just gotta give
it some thought—I’m convinced it is totally necessary to teach
your dog where he should be focusing as he learns. Start by
exploring it in your agility training but you will see that your
efforts will benefit you in “real life” as well.

The Roots of Focus
Most dogs learn pretty quickly to keep their eyes on the prize
if they are rewarded for it enough. They know it often pays
to watch the cookie dispenser—you! Most of the time we are
happy for this focus on us, especially from our puppies and
troubled dogs. We are thrilled for their attention on us when we
are passing the fence with the lunging lunatic on the other side
(I did mean other dogs, but I do live in the city where anything
can happen). The “when in doubt look at me and get a cookie”
can be a sweet way to navigate life in many scenarios. Quill,
my Jack Russell Terrier, had to be brainwashed to look to me
for a cookie whenever she faced any trouble, since her instincts
would steer her wrong every time. It was a survival technique.
“When in doubt look at me” can work great in everyday life,
but not always so well during agility training. Our dogs need
us to teach them where they are supposed to be focusing and it
can be done during the early stages of training. But it is never
too late to teach it.

Decisions, Decisions
Before you start to train this skill you should decide where you
want your dog looking and also decide when he can put his attenJuly 13

| Clean Run

tion elsewhere. Try your best to get it all figured out before you
start to train. It can be tricky so take your time and talk to people.
For example, have you made the decisions about where your
dog should be focused and for how long he should focus
when he is:

·	Driving to a two-on/two-off position
·	Executing a running dogwalk or A-frame
·	Making the teeter hit the ground
·	In the process of doing a “Go on”
·	Weaving
·	Exiting a tunnel or chute
·	Jumping
·	Doing distance work

After each obstacle do you want your dog looking for you or
another obstacle, and when should he do it (think exiting the
tunnel)? How will he know? Was the training for this done with
verbal cues, physical cues, or both? Maybe it is easy for you
to answer these questions, maybe not. But either way, the next
question is how much conscience effort are you putting into
training and rewarding focus? Would you actually stop and help
the dog during sequence work to train focus?
One good example to consider is the two-on/two-off position
on the contact obstacles. If the dog starts to look at you before
he gets his feet on the ground has he really done his job? If you
trained him to focus ahead until his feet are in the correct position, he has not done his job if he looks at you before those feet
get to where they are supposed to be. Once the dog gets confused
55



Clean Run - July 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - July 2013

Clean Run - July 2013
Contents
Editorializing: “Internationalization” and Course Design Trends
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Knowledge Equals Speed! Handling Positions: What Do They Mean to the Dog
Focus in the Ring Is Not Just for Dogs!
The 10-Minute Trainer
Power Paws Drills: Serp City
Thermal Imaging for the Agility Dog
Trainer/Student, Coach/Athlete
Channel Weaves Modified
The Judge’s Debriefing
Training with the Stars: Jenn Crank
The Construction Zone: Weatherproof 2x2 Weave Pole Bases
Look! Teaching Dogs Where to Focus
Busting the Myths: You Can Talk, You Can Smile, You Can Have Fun!
Out Spot Out! Teaching Independent Obstacle Performance, Part 4
Clean Run - July 2013 - Clean Run - July 2013
Clean Run - July 2013 - 2
Clean Run - July 2013 - Contents
Clean Run - July 2013 - 4
Clean Run - July 2013 - Editorializing: “Internationalization” and Course Design Trends
Clean Run - July 2013 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run - July 2013 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Clean Run - July 2013 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run - July 2013 - 9
Clean Run - July 2013 - 10
Clean Run - July 2013 - Knowledge Equals Speed! Handling Positions: What Do They Mean to the Dog
Clean Run - July 2013 - 12
Clean Run - July 2013 - 13
Clean Run - July 2013 - 14
Clean Run - July 2013 - 15
Clean Run - July 2013 - Focus in the Ring Is Not Just for Dogs!
Clean Run - July 2013 - 17
Clean Run - July 2013 - 18
Clean Run - July 2013 - 19
Clean Run - July 2013 - The 10-Minute Trainer
Clean Run - July 2013 - 21
Clean Run - July 2013 - 22
Clean Run - July 2013 - 23
Clean Run - July 2013 - Power Paws Drills: Serp City
Clean Run - July 2013 - 25
Clean Run - July 2013 - 26
Clean Run - July 2013 - 27
Clean Run - July 2013 - 28
Clean Run - July 2013 - 29
Clean Run - July 2013 - Thermal Imaging for the Agility Dog
Clean Run - July 2013 - 31
Clean Run - July 2013 - 32
Clean Run - July 2013 - 33
Clean Run - July 2013 - 34
Clean Run - July 2013 - Trainer/Student, Coach/Athlete
Clean Run - July 2013 - 36
Clean Run - July 2013 - 37
Clean Run - July 2013 - 38
Clean Run - July 2013 - 39
Clean Run - July 2013 - Channel Weaves Modified
Clean Run - July 2013 - 41
Clean Run - July 2013 - 42
Clean Run - July 2013 - 43
Clean Run - July 2013 - 44
Clean Run - July 2013 - 45
Clean Run - July 2013 - 46
Clean Run - July 2013 - The Judge’s Debriefing
Clean Run - July 2013 - 48
Clean Run - July 2013 - Training with the Stars: Jenn Crank
Clean Run - July 2013 - 50
Clean Run - July 2013 - 51
Clean Run - July 2013 - 52
Clean Run - July 2013 - The Construction Zone: Weatherproof 2x2 Weave Pole Bases
Clean Run - July 2013 - 54
Clean Run - July 2013 - Look! Teaching Dogs Where to Focus
Clean Run - July 2013 - 56
Clean Run - July 2013 - 57
Clean Run - July 2013 - 58
Clean Run - July 2013 - Busting the Myths: You Can Talk, You Can Smile, You Can Have Fun!
Clean Run - July 2013 - 60
Clean Run - July 2013 - 61
Clean Run - July 2013 - Out Spot Out! Teaching Independent Obstacle Performance, Part 4
Clean Run - July 2013 - 63
Clean Run - July 2013 - 64
Clean Run - July 2013 - 65
Clean Run - July 2013 - 66
Clean Run - July 2013 - 67
Clean Run - July 2013 - 68
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