Homework- Focus Foundation

Welcome! Here are the weekly handouts and my advice for each of the 6-weeks of your Focus Foundation class. You and your dog will get out of it what you put into it. Practice what you’ve learned every day but keep it fun. Turn training into a game. Ask your dog for something (such as a sit or down) before giving something that he or she wants, such as a game of tug, dinner, a ride in the car, a chance to go outside, some time on the sofa with you, etc. Think of more things your dog likes and values and use them as rewards.

Probably the single most important concept for you to know and remember is that training is all about building a relationship between you and your dog and providing or controlling consequences for the dog. It’s important to remember that all animals repeat behaviors they find rewarding. Behaviors that are not rewarding in any way will fade and eventually extinguish.

Dog-friendly training works by reinforcing desirable behaviors with praise, treats and play. Undesirable behavior is either not rewarded, prevented from being self-rewarding through appropriate management of the environment, or redirected into an incompatible activity that can be reinforced by something the dog finds valuable.

Consequences (such as the use of time-outs), when indicated, are used to instruct rather than to punish the dog and are never physically painful or emotionally abusive. The main consequence when your dog makes a mistake and chooses the wrong behavior should be the removal of the reinforcment.

This training outline is an approximation of the order of the exercises. Depending upon the class we may do some things earlier or later.

I am very happy to have you in class! Let’s get started.

Mindy Cox, B.S., CPDT-KSA
Training Director


This was your orientation without your dog. It was nice meeting all of you! Please be sure to read the handouts at the back of your packet to remember what to bring for next week’s class. Please be prepared! Don’t remember what to bring? Here is a list of the items to bring to class -click here to bring up the list.

Here is your homework this week.

1. Find your dog’s favorite rewards (what does he value the most?)

2. Begin Nothing For Free- ask for a sit or other behavior for all interactions (Dog:“Why should I?” Human: “Because I make all good things happen!”)

–Reward with food, toy, or life rewards (ex, going outside)

3. Start “loading” the clicker- click then treat; repeat 20x for 2-3 days. This video will help you do that.

Watch the video: Getting Started With The Clicker

–Begin using the clicker to mark “sit” and “down”. Ask for a sit and as soon as your dog’s butt hits the ground click, then treat.

–Remember our clicker practice the first night. Return your treat hand to the neutral position (at your navel or behind your back) after you have treated. Don’t move it until after you click for the behavior you want to reinforce.

Watch this short video to understand the elements of good dog training and get great results:

Watch the video: Creating Good Training Skills 

4. Reward eye contact, either inside, outside or both.

5. List negative and positive interactions. Decrease the one and increase the other.

6. Before coming to class next week, be sure to read the second paragraph for WEEK TWO homework, below, about increasing your success in class each week (hint: start at your car).

7. Watch the video: Ping Pong Game on the mat. You will use this game when you attend Week Two to keep your dog calm and focused.

8. Watch the short videos to learn the difference between luring, capturing & shaping:

What is luring?
Teach using the capture method
Teach using the shaping method
Shape, Target, Lure. What’s the Difference?
Dog Training Do and Don’t pictorial
Nothing In Life Is Free: Easily fit training into your life


This is your first week in class with your dog. Be sure to bring everything that was on the list including treat pouch, clicker, high-value treats (lots of them cut up pea size), mat, proper collar and leash (no pinch, or choke collars; no retractable leashes); stuffed Kong, toy, water bowl. Please come to class each week prepared for success.

To increase your dog’s attention and success this week (and every week), consider the class beginning as soon as you park your car.

–Have your treat pouch filled with treats and on you before you exit your car.

–Open the car door for your dog and say your dog’s name. When he or she looks at you, treat.

–Release your dog from the car and repeat his/her name. Reward.

–Continue to ask for and reward attention every 5 to 8 steps as you approach and enter the building.

–After finding a seat, immediately put down your mat and begin to drop treats on it. (Watch the video listed in Week One, above, The Ping Pong Game.) What a great start!

It may seem a little chaotic at the beginning of class tonight since this is a new environment with lots of distractions. You will notice that the more distractions, the harder you have to work on getting your dog to do things that he or she does well at home. That’s why I ask you to bring extra special treats such as chicken, hot dogs, cheese, etc. cut up into tiny pieces (we will use a lot of them in class). Next class, please start gaining your dog’s attention by playing Find It! or the Ping Pong Game (off the mat in this context) as soon as you start to walk toward the front door of Lucky Dog. If you see another dog, give it space as there may be some dogs that are a little reactive to other dogs. Either back up quickly and call your dog to you ( use a happy voice and be generous in your rewards), or stop and continue to play one of the attention games.

Here are some training tips:

• Remember to keep training fun for you and your dog and stop before your dog wants to. Keep your dog happy and confident.
• Catch and reward your dog being successful and stay positive. Ignore the times your dog is unsuccessful.
• Rewarding positive behavior will build trust and improve your relationship. Punishment erodes the relationship and in some cases may cause aggression.
• Make a list of what your dog values most (types of food rewards,play, petting, ride in the car, etc.) so you know how to reward.
• Begin training at home in an environment that is not distracting. As your dog learns the exercise, slowly increase the level of distractions.
• Break training into small steps.
• Plan ahead. Have your tools ready before you begin (such as clicker and treats).
• Reinforce highly to maintain a positive attitude.
• Multiple short sessions are better than one long session (boring and tiring!). There are moments of training opportunities all during the day.
• Play and training should be indistinguishable to your dog. They both should be fun!
• Don’t be afraid to act silly sometimes. Your dog will enjoy your playful attitude.
• Be sure your dog gets lots of exercise and environmental enrichment. A tired dog is a happy dog!

How awesome your dog behaves and responds is totally up to you. The amount of motivation, ambition, and standards you have will reflect in your dog’s level of training and attention to you. We will continue to learn a lot over the course of the class. You will be amazed how much your dog can learn in six short weeks!

Please keep me informed if you have any questions or I am not covering the things you are most interested in. I am here to serve you. If you need to reach me before class, please call 561-427-6700. Please let me know by phone or email when you can’t attend.

Name Game
Watch the Video: Name Recognition
Play the Find It Game
Watch the Video: Play the Find It Game (Note: This is a good video to show the steps; just add the cue “Find It” before tossing the treat)
Clicker Training
Clicker Fundamentals
Rewards List
Reinforcement and Use of Rewards
Getting Your Dog to Come

It’s Your Choice: The Game of Self Control

Video: It’s Your Choice
Creating a Reinforcement Zone for walking your dog without pulling

Video: Reinforcement Zone/Walking

What else should you be reinforcing?

Unprompted Attention

  • Reward your dog for choosing to look at you. You may only have to work on this outside if he is already paying close attention to you inside the house.
  • On a walk, stop, wait, and say nothing, be ready to click as soon as he turns to you, and then reward him. He does not have to look you in the eye; reorienting toward you should be rewarded too.
  • Repeat this often until he is beginning to look at you more often.
  • If he has trouble paying attention to you, we will start easier.
    • Take a step and reward him whether he is looking at you or not.
    • Do this for several steps until he is anticipating the reward.
    • Then switch to every 3 steps. Again, continue until he is beginning to pay attention.
    • Then feed him every 8 steps.
    • By now he should be checking in with you frequently. Be sure to mark it and treat every time he looks over at you!
    • Use enthusiasm and praise. It’s contagious!


Keep playing the Name Game to achieve that whiplash turn, even with distractions. The Find It game will help your dog to check back in with you and is great when your dog is very distracted. Reward your dog when he or she offers you attention without you having to ask.

When you ask your dog for a stay, be sure to use the release word you have chosen; it’s not ok if your dog makes the decision when to get up. Maintain your criteria!

Still luring (getting your dog in position using a treat in your hand)? It’s time to make the leap, trust your dog, and stop! You don’t want a dog that will only listen to you when you have a treat in your hand. Also, place your treat pouch behind you. Don’t make the treats so obvious.

Adding the verbal cue: If your dog is completely understanding your commands and doing it the first time asked when you use the hand signal without luring (without a treat in your hand), start adding in the name of the cue (such as “down”). Say the cue, “Fido, down”, pause, then show him what you want with your hand signal. Then click and treat. (Say it, Show it, Pay it.) After many reps you will see him respondng to the verbal cue before you have a chance to help him with the hand signal.

Unprompted Attention: Don’t forget to keep rewarding when your dog chooses to look at you. The more you reinforce it the more often your dog will think it’s valuable to check in with you.

Attention Training and Name Recognition
Sit Happens
Teaching Down
Video lesson: Teach Your Dog to Lie Down
Stay! Working on Duration
Exercise Finished! Release Cues
Watch Me
Go To Mat
Loose Leash Walking: Part 1
Loose Leash Walking: Part 2
Building Success with the 3 Ds: Distance, Distraction and Duration


Continue to practice loose leash walking (which takes lots of practice to master).

Continue to work on Find It, Leave It, Name Game, and Watch. Add distractions to your stay exercise.

If you are practicing at home consistently, you should now notice that your dog is already making lots of progress. If you don’t understand any concepts we’ve gone over, please be sure to let me know. Either give me a call or email me so that I can explain anything you’re unsure of. Many of you are successfully getting your dog’s attention at the beginning of class when they were distracted. Nice work! Next week, please work on that as soon as you get there with your Find It Game. Then ask for relaxation on your dog’s mat.

By now you should not be using a treat to lure into a position. If you still are, please phase it out quickly. Work on moving into different positions (sit from down; down from sit) without your lure.

We are now adding distance to the stay exercise. Be sure not to go too fast too soon. Keep your dog successful. That might mean making it easier by not going so far away, or coming back and rewarding sooner. If your dog keeps getting up when you move away, start by just moving your feet in place. Then take a half step back and return immediately and reward. If you train in a logical, step-by-step fashion your dog will learn without begin confused.

Continue to work on It’s Your Choice (IYC). We also want your dog to understand that it is not only used for ignoring treats.This can be a very valuable skill for your dog to know for so many things in life where he has to make decisions, such as not running out of an open door, waiting to exit the crate, politely greeting someone, and waiting for permission to take a toy or eat his dinner.

Keep track of your pet’s progress so you will know if you are going too fast or if you can add in more challenges. If your dog does an exercise correctly 5 out of 5 times you can make it slightly more difficult. If he or she is right 3 or 4 out of 5 times, keep doing what you’re doing until it’s close to perfect. If your dog is only correct one or two out of five times, you need to make the exercise easier.Always strive to keep your dog successful so training stays fun and motivating.

Clicker: You should be fading out the clicker for the skills your dog has mastered such as sit. The clicker is used to teach new behaviors; it’s not needed for skills your dog knows well.

Rewards: It’s also time to start using a variable rate of reinforcement. What this means is that instead of treating every time your dog does something that you ask for (and that he has mastered) you will treat in a more unpredictable fashion. Definitely reward when your dog delivers outstanding behavior such as a super fsst down or something done in a very distracting environment. Don’t move to variable rewards too soon, but once your dog is reading for this reinforcement schedule, he will actually perform better!

Basic Obedience Skills
Stay! Going for Distance.
No Jumping!
Self Control Games
Continue Nothing In Life Is Free: Check out this infographic
Targeting- a Fun Game
Getting Focused Attention


Try rewarding after your dog successfully completes two or multiple cues in a row such as sit, down, sit..
Here are exercises to work on:

Ready…ready…Go! (holding dog back with hand on his chest) and release to some treats that are several feet away. When the treats are consumed, call your dog back to you. This should be high energy and fun. You can also release to a toy and play a game of tug (be sure you get to the toy quickly so that your dog does not play keep away.

Recall with Treat game: With dog in front of handler, toss treat about three or four feet to one side. Call dog immediately after he eats treat. When dog comes back to handler, click and toss treat to opposite side. Continue quickly from one side to the other. Variation: toss treat and call dog. As he turns to come, handler turns and runs (keep eye contact). Let dog catch up and c/t (click/treat). Again, keep the game fun and stimulating.

Advanced Attention game: Show dog treat in hand, stretch arm out to side. Do it with offered attention: wait until dog looks at handler; to begin with click as soon as you get an eye flick to your face. As he gets the idea of this exercise you can make it harder by clicking with longer attention to you.

Fewer Treats, More Life Rewards
Stay! Adding Distractions.
Video: Ideas on Changing Problem Behaviors


Stay. By now your dog should be doing some great stays and not moving until you release. As you know, the stay exercise has three components: duration, distance, and distraction. Let’s put them all together! When you are moving away from your dog, be sure to go back and reward his great stay often; don’t always move away and then call. Your dog will begin to anticipate this and will start self-releasing.

Stay! Putting It All Together
Nothing In Life Is Free #2: Keep practicing! There’s always time to train if you incorporate it into your life.
Polite Greeting

Video: Polite greeting Step 1: Using toys or treats

Video: Polite greeting Step 2: Using people

Graduation! Job well done. Keep having fun with your dog and don’t stop teaching and learning. Continue to challenge you and your dog with new skills. Take another class. How about Nose WorkMy Dog Has CLASSRally, or Intro to Agility?