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Build focus and connection with your dog

This exercise is a lot of fun and an absolute favourite of many dogs. You can use this exercise for different purposes and achieve results you never thought you would achieve!

How do I do it?

The exercise is easy to learn, but there are a few little things that can be helpful to know before you get started.

Throw treats different distances from you, depending on where you are. Sometimes this exercise can include short throws and at a slower pace if you want your dog to be calm in the situation, and sometimes we can throw far and have the dog on a long leash or loose. You choose if you want your dog to get excited and practice focus, or if you would rather your dog slow down and be able to be calm in the situation.

Wait for your dog to reconnect with you. In other words, you should be quiet, completely silent, until your dog looks towards you again. Then you can say "GOOD" (or your chosen positive reinforcement word) and throw the next treat the other way. This gives the dog the opportunity to take in the environment and depending on how your dog reacts, you will be able to see if the environment is too difficult at the moment. Read on for more tips on why this is important.

Introducing new environments

It's not always the case that we think about how to introduce new environments in a good way for our dog. However, for some individuals, this can be very important to keep their focus on us, and confidence and curiosity up. The exercise will give your dog something to think about while they have the opportunity to take in the new environment. Whether your dog is happy with anything and everything or is a slightly more cautious individual, this exercise is valuable. They will have more focus on you, the opportunity to explore the environment without any demands, and you can avoid unwanted behaviours occurring. With this exercise, you can also see if your dog is comfortable in the situation or not. If they don't make contact right away, it's information for you that your dog might be too excited or insecure and scared. Always watch your dog to know how to help the dog better.

It is very important that you therefore do not nag your dog to come back to you. Give it time to take in the environment between each throw, if it needs it. Usually the dog finds the exercise so much fun that they just want to be with you, but if it chooses to stop, you can observe the dog and see if it reconnects or if the environment has become too demanding for your dog.

Build your cautious dog's confidence

As described above, this is an excellent exercise for the cautious dog. Many environments can feel overwhelming and difficult for dogs who are shy and insecure, so focusing on something else is a great way for them to be in the situation.
Remember: If your dog doesn't take treats, the environment is just too difficult for your dog. Distance yourself and see if you can pick up the exercise again, or choose to train another day instead. It is not beneficial to push a cautious dog into situations that they are not comfortable with. It can damage your dog's confidence and your relationship.

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