Is Your Dog Focused On You?

Dog Training for Beginners
Black German Shepherd

Dennis Dog Training
Dennis and Zeus Training Attention-Is Your Dog Focused On You?
If he is focused, how can you use that attention?  If he isn’t focused, how can you gain that attention?

Is Your Dog Toy Crazy?  How To Train A Toy Crazy Dog

In today’s video, I’m demonstrating how to teach and/or correct behaviors your dog may exhibit when you are using a toy to gain attention.  We don’t want the dog to bite at your hand or jump at the toy.  The toy is to get the dog’s attention and then to focus that attention into the behavior we want.  He has to earn the toy as a reward in training. 

This can happen with any dog, but especially with high-energy, work-driven dogs.  They are just like athetes and require workouts to keep them at their peak, and to fine-tune any sloppy behavior or habits that develop.  I am training with Zeus.  Zeus is a four year old male German Shepherd that is toy crazy and driven.  He loves to work and to play.  But the problem is, he gets too excited and will get out of hand.  He becomes so focused on the toy that he’ll bite and nip and jump at your hands to try to get the toy.

This is dominant behavior in a very dominant dog, so you need to learn how to deal with this type of behavior, and address and fix it, if you want to train and handle a dog like him.  Don’t get me wrong,  Zeus is a well-trained dog. But like any training, when you’re focused on a new task or tasks, you might suddenly find that they’ve gotten sloppy in another area.  This is what happened with Zeus.  Sandy found him surging forward when he was in the heel position.

He wasn’t pulling on the leash or breaking away when off-leash, but he was taking the dominant lead and was positioned with his shoulder at her leg, as opposed to his head being beside it.  This causes a turn to the left to be awkard, as well as his head up heel.  To fix this, we need to go back to basics and fix a couple of areas.  Like I say in the video, this is a part of owning a driven working dog, and it comes with this type of training.

But no matter how advanced your training, you have to remember that it all started with the basics.  And that’s where we’ll fix this problem.  You’ll see that I use the toy to gain his attention and move him back into the heel position.  If he nips at the toy or jumps, I correct and redirect his attention so that he has to focus on where I’m moving and where I’m directing him.

I want to keep his head at my leg, not in front of it, so that I can comfortably turn left with him.  If he surges forward, I’ll back up, using the toy for attention and reset his position at my side.  You’ll see I give him the toy as a reward for the behavior that I want.  You do not give the toy until you have the correct behavior, otherwise you’ll just confuse the dog.  If you tell your dog to sit and he doesn’t, and you have to say it five more times and then he sits and then you give him the toy, then you’ve taught him that he doesn’t sit until you’ve said it six times.

After all, that is the behavior you rewarded.  After I’ve rewarded with the toy, you’ll see that he wants to play tug.  This is okay, if I tell him it’s okay.  And holding on to it and not releasing is good, when I want him to do that and he has been told to.  But he needs to give up the tug when I tell him.  It all starts from basics.  He needs to drop it, or out the toy at my command.  Because if you advance to bite work, he has to give up the sleeve at the command.  The first time.  Focused and driven is fine, as long as the handler is doing the driving.

I started out recording this video for two reasons.  One was to show Zeus’ owner how to fix the surging problem.  And the other was to show another one of my students how to excite and gain her dog’s attention and focus with a toy.  Just like people, all dogs are different.  They have different personalities.  But you can use a toy to motivate a dog, even if they’re not high-energy and at first don’t seem interested.  Then you use it to focus their attention and reward the behavior in the training you are working on.  On the other side, you have dogs like Zeus, who come out of the gate ready and raring to work.  And then, when he sees a toy or pull toy his attention is on one thing only, to get it.  He doesn’t have an off button.

But again, it’s a tool and you have to focus the behavior and not allow bad habits to develop.  If they slip in, we fix them.  If you have this type of high-energy dog, you have to commit to working with him and focusing that drive and energy.  Otherwise, you can have problems and destructive or aggressive behavior.  Fortunately, the owner realized at a young age that Zeus was different from other Shepherds that she had owned and she sought me out for training.  She has continued with advanced training with me because Zeus has drive and needs to work and she really enjoys taking him to each new level.

I love training high energy dogs, because it can be challenging and fun.  My boy Zeus can be a knucklehead sometimes.  But remember, no dog is perfect all the time.  There’s no fun in that for them — or us.  The challenge is in working the behaviors and seeing the results.

Thanks for watching and I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment if you enjoy this information.  My boy Zeus would love to know what you thought of his video too.Black German Shepherd
Enjoy! Dennis



About the author:  All about Dennis Dalia, I’m the guy writing the content on this blog. My goal is to share useful Information and tips on dog training, and Beyond. Follow me @ Twitter and check out my blog.

2 comments… add one
  • Sandy Rieser

    I love watching you work with him. It gives a whole new perspective on the things you are explaining and his positioning when you see it from here as opposed to being beside him. You’ve hooked me for life on the high-energy dogs and I can’t wait for you to get the membership site finished so I have the lessons on line that I can review any time. Your training has given me control of -and helped make him -the amazing dog he is today. Thanks

    • Dennis

      Hi, Sandy, owning a high-energy dog can be a lot of fun. But they need a leader for sure. Keep up the good work with Zeus. Here’s a great dog, and I love helping you train him. The membership will be ready soon. I will let you know. Thanks.

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