Practicing “Forward Focus”

If you live in the Northeast, you learn to dread the term “wintry mix.”  Well, that is what happened overnight and now we have a thin layer of ice on top of 1/2 inch snow.  YUCKO!  I didn’t intentionally train Jake and Lil to understand what I mean when I say EASY or CAREFUL but luckily through sheer repetition, they both  know what those words mean.  Both dogs made it safely down (and then back up) the steps to the yard this AM.

I’ve not been video taping training sessions lately but I was inspired to pull out my video camera in order to capture a couple of training sessions with Jake and Lil practicing “Forward Focus” to share with a friend who wants to train her dog to look forward vs. at her.

(video above) I didn’t initially use a Manner’s Minder to train Forward Focus but thought it would be an easy way to do it.  I also thought using a platform would make it easier for a dog who was just beginning to learn this skill to WAIT before being released.

(video above) The next day I used a toy instead of the Manner’s Minder and moved to a different location in the living room.  I decided to include all repetitions so my friend could see that it is OK to make mistakes as long as we get it right more often than not and are fair to our dogs when we screw up our training mechanics.   I think Jake and Lil are quite forgiving of my screw-ups and are happy to keep playing with me.

The second video is long, so you may want to skip ahead to 6:35 where Lil does a few 180 turns away from me and waits while looking forward, before I release her to a ball tossed over her head.  This was the freestyle trick that inspired me to train “forward focus at nothing” in the first place.

One more quick note:  The reason I kneeled down for some reps was to change the “picture” my dogs see when lining up at my side.  For me, the benefit of kneeling is to experience what it would be like to work with big dogs, whose mouths are right there for easy feeding vs. way down near my feet.  It sure makes delivering rewards easier.

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