FE105: Get Focused!

Instructor: Deborah Jones and Judy Keller

Course Details

Do you struggle to keep your dog engaged and attentive in training? Does your dog find other dogs, people, or even smells on the floor more interesting than you? Do you have a dog that is great when he’s “on” but you totally lose him when he’s “off”? Does your dog work well in the living room but have issues in other settings? Are you struggling to find the key to keeping your dog’s interest and attention?  Do you feel like your dog isn’t giving you 100% in training?  Does your dog get too high & excited or too slow & careful?  

You and your dog need focus! Focus is an often overlooked, but vitally important, aspect of your working relationship with your dog. The goal of focus training is to develop and encourage your dog’s interest, concentration, enthusiasm, and commitment to working with you. This will result in increased focus on you and on the tasks and activities that you and your dog do together.

This class is ideally taken early in your dog’s career. We consider focus work an important foundation for future training. However, focus work at any age will be a benefit. Instilling focus as a habit will make teaching everything else much, much easier. Focus is necessary for success in all dog sports and activities.

In this class you will learn about the concept of focus, and what you can do to encourage it, increase it, and maintain it.

CEUs available.  

Here's a trailer for the class:


There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration will begin at 9:30 AM PST.

Enrollment limits: 10 gold, 15 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level class, you can sign up any time during the registration period.


Get Focused! Class SyllabusBaseline Videos

Lecture 1:  What’s the Problem?

Why is your dog unfocused?

1. Lack of enthusiasm

2. Lack of control

3. Lack of confidence

4. Lack of clarity

*Assignment 1:  What’s the Problem?

Lecture 2:  What is Focus?

What is focus?  How is it different from attention?  

Offered, never compelled

Never ask for focus.  Set up your training sessions so it happens naturally and you can capture it.

Acclimation vs. focus

*Assignment 2:  Acclimation

*Exercise 1:  Rapid-Fire CT

*Exercise 2:  Captured Focus

*Exercise 3:  Offered Focus

Lecture 3:  Manipulating States

States of arousal

Turning your dog “on” and “off”

Working vs. chilling

*Assignment 3:  What’s Your State?

*Exercise 4:  Turning On & Off

Lecture 4:  Reinforcement & Focus

Motivation: why should your dog focus on you?  What do you have to offer?

Make your dog addicted to you!

Skillful use of reinforcers

More cookies does NOT equate to better focus!

*Assignment 4:  Reinforcement hierarchy & choices

Lecture 5:  Arousal Levels & Focus

Arousal levels

Stressing up & down

*Assignment 5:  Know Your Dog!

Lecture 6A&B:  When Things Go Wrong

What do you do when your dog is not focused?  Stop training!

*Exercise 5:  Working with Focus

*Exercise 6:  Adding More Work to Focus

*Exercise 6+  Focused Chain

*Exercise 7:  Building Duration

*Exercise 8:  Developing Moving Focus

*Exercise 9:  Quick Change

Lecture 7:  What’s Your Responsibility?

Are your expectations appropriate and realistic?

Excuses and explanations

*Assignment 6:  No More Excuses!

Lecture 8:  Remote Reinforcers

Keeping focus while reducing dependence on reinforcers

*Exercise 10:  Adding Distractions

*Exercise 11:  Remote Reinforcement

Prerequisites and Equipment





**Optional:  In Focus:  Developing a Working Relationship with Your Performance Dog by Deb Jones & Judy Keller.  Even though this book was written with agility in mind, the ideas and principles apply well to ALL dog sports and training.  


Also, the newest book in the Dog Sports Skills series Book 4: Focus & Engage! goes into great detail about the exercises presented in this class as well as the general concept of voluntary focus.  This is a very good resource to accompany this class.


Course Testimonials


I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical about the idea of an online dog training course and wondered how beneficial it could really be -- I'm thrilled to say that I was pleasantly wrong and we had a fantastic experience. Even at the bronze level, getting specific guided lessons paired with the opportunity to follow the comments and advice given to others turned out to be much more comprehensive and thorough than I imagined. An unexpected bonus was the change in my fearful/reactive dog's attitude toward training; the stressors that she normally associates with taking classes (barking dogs, a lot of strange people moving around, weird sounds) aren't present, so she was given a chance to build enthusiasm for something that she'd previously had mixed feelings about. In turn, forming a habit of focusing assisted us with our "Show me!" trigger exercise and drastically improved her ability to disengage from things that worry her by focusing on me. I'm definitely going to be signing up for more classes! J. Harris  

I felt like we can't get past foundations. So I stepped further back into foundations and took this class! I have really enjoyed working through all the exercises with my dog Lily and we've had some phenomenal results that I plan to keep building on! My other dog is in the throes of a peak in her anxiety issues, so we did not do anything but RFT. I have to say that even just that little bit has done some really nice things and meshes really fantastically with her b-mod/confidence work that we do every day. I would definitely recommend this class to anyone who feels frustrated or unsure about a focus issue!               

I realized that the GET FOCUSED course was working when we recently stepped out of our front gate just as a few guinea fowl came wandering down the street. Normally that would have resulted in a partially dislocated shoulder for me. Hah! Not this time. We calmly did some Rapid Fire Treats and could even step into the road as the last bird squawked past. WOW!! Awesome instructors, great course content. I really liked the logical way in which the course unfolded and one lesson built on another. I also like the fact that I could largely work at my own pace, going back to earlier lectures and assignments as often as needed. Decisions, decisions: Which course to do next? - KarinP                

This was my first, won't be my last. Not only does one get the benefit of well developed successful course material, but the instructors knowledge about canine behavior and psychology has helped me to build a stronger bond with my pups. The improvement in our relationship during this first course has already been huge. Thank You FDSA! Barb S                 

Thank you Deb and Judy for such a great class! It has helped my young dog Sami TREMENDOUSLY!!! Sami is a very social girl, I now have learned skills that I will be using daily. :) Thanks again FDSA for having such great classes and AWESOME instructors!!! FDSA is making a positive impact on not only dogs but people too! :) ~Chris J                 

The overall feel of caring and support in this class was amazing. Even as a bronze it penetrated our work at home and the lurker group postings. Just a very great learning environment, thank you Deb & Judy!                

I found Deb and Judy to be excellent instructors and the Get Focused class was an great experience. It was my first Gold level class and I was quite anxious about posting videos. Their feedback was clear, specific and very encouraging. It is exciting to see the progress we made in just a few weeks! My dog is much more dialed in to me and now has a much better understanding of what she has to do to make it all happen. Being able to see the progress made my my classmates was really exciting. I learned with them while watching and reading their feedback. Thanks so much! Elaine A. 

We have been busy this year filling in all our foundation holes. I knew the course would be good but I never expected it to make such a profound difference in our training. The exercises appear simple but they are really powerful. I found my dog looking for me more and generally more focused on me. This is amazing with such an independent breed. I would recommend everyone take this course whatever the age of your dog! Mary Ellen S.                 

The focus class was amazing and exactly what I needed! Thank you Deb and Judy for providing me with so many great tools. I now feel like I have a better path forward to successful and fun training and eventual showing with my boy who has been more interested in the world than me. Sue N.