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Focus

Updated: Apr 2


The first thing I like to teach new dogs is focus. I want their focus to be on me. If they are focused on me, then they aren't worried about other dogs in the ring, they aren't sniffing around, they aren't pulling or getting into trouble.


Focus can be taught many different ways. You have to make yourself more important/exciting/relevant than the surrounding environment.


My favorite ways to teach this are the Look at Me game, Cookie toss/Get it game, or the Chase game.


These are quick interactive games that can and should be played everywhere you take your dog.


Look at Me Game

BASIC GUIDELINES FOR PLAYING THE "Look at Me Game"

1. Trainer must be calm and relaxed.

2. Trainer must have high value treats within easy reach (bowl on table or treat pouch).

3. When using food, it is wise to have small, easily consumed treats so Trainer will not

lose continuity or dog’s attention.

4. Once Trainer engages the “want”, Dog must be allowed to test any response he thinks

of doing. Management tools and plans must be in place to prevent any unwanted or

unexpected responses from being reinforced. For example, Dog should be on a leash which the Trainer stands on so that the dog cannot jump up and knock food from Trainer’s hand.


HOW TO PLAY THE Look at Me Game

With the Dog sitting/standing calmly, the Trainer keeps their arms relaxed at their side

(Neutral Position). Trainer wants the Dog to choose between looking around or looking into the Trainer’s eyes. While you can lure the dog's gaze by holding food up to the Trainer's face, this will require fading of the lure and takes more time than just being in a neutral position and patient at the beginning.


1. WAIT SOUNDLESSLY while Dog decides where to focus!

2. At the precise moment the Dog looks at the Trainer’s eyes, Mark/Reward (M/R) immediately. This first look can be just a passing glance and not sustained. As the dog learns the game, their gaze will increase in duration.

3. Once Dog has consumed the food reward, the Trainer goes back to the neutral position.

4. Again, at the precise moment when the Dog looks at the Trainer’s eyes, Mark/Reward (M/R) immediately.

5. Repeat this sequence until Dog continually looks into the Trainer’s eyes.

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Would you give a quick run down of the 'look at me' game?

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