The Art Of Attention

By Fred Hassen & Toni Drugmand

Sit Means Sit

A Good Foundation

Whether you are working with a puppy, an adolescent or mature dog, everything you teach your dog STARTS with attention! Attention to your command is the best foundation. There is a bit of an art to teaching attention however.

Training Aids

Using a long line that is attached to the pups collar both helps in leash training and acts as a guide to direct the puppy’s attention from the wrong things he may choose to do. The long line gives the handler the ability to reach out and interrupt an incorrect behavior such as chewing, jumping etc. Be sure to give the pup something he can do such as chew on a safe bone or toy to help manage his idle time.

Motivation & Balance

Finding something that motivates your dog to focus on your command in the face of distractions can be challenging! A leash and collar might be one way to do this; another might involve an enticing food reward or toy. Try Teaching your dog to do something you want before he gets something he wants, such as sit before a meal, or heel correctly for several paces and reward with a ball toss. Training should be both motivational and balanced in order for your dog to learn. Our system can include all or any of the mentioned aids along with the cue of a remote training collar. This tool gives us the ability to clearly communicate to our dog and enhances reliability. If faced with a strong distraction such as a cat running, we want immediate response to our command ;enough to call our dog back from the cat temptation!


Usually, When we bring a puppy home we have enough sense to recognize the need for supervision. Attention starts at this early age, both your attention to supervise and recognize the need for a safe containment area (crate, dog run see last months article for fuller description) is important. Teaching your dog or pup from day one should start with easy attention exercises or games. An example is the “come” game. One person calls the pup and the long line helps guide the puppy if needed while a lot of praise is given and maybe a treat or toy. Using a helper take turns rotating who is calling the puppy.

Age doesn’t matter

Many clients that call us fail to realize an adult dog still abides by the same training consistencies a puppy does. If an adult isn’t house broken, OR has learned to dig and be destructive for instance, we need to be fair by giving clear boundaries, no different than with a puppy. A safe containment and management system is important so positive learning happens. Over see all of your dogs free time to be sure your dog or pup doesn’t learn the wrong things, such as digging up moms garden!


Because it all comes down to attention, you need to decide what training techniques make the most sense for your needs. A clicker gives the dog the ability to have a reward when he does the right behavior. This can be helpful to mark the correct behavior, however it may not be a strong enough motivation if your dog really wants to chase that cat! A leash and training collar can be effective for getting attention, some dogs might even respond well to a toy or food lure. A remote collar is another safe humane technique that works like an adjustable tap on the shoulder to get your dogs attention. It has adjustable settings that can be changed to meet the environmental stimulation.

A remote training collar helps us keep our dog’s attention.

Don’t Change The Rules!

If you are working with your dog at home and your dog just needs clear boundaries, then don’t change the rules! Be consistent every time you ask for a behavior or supervise every step until it is a reliably set pattern. Your dog may amaze you at how smart he really is. If however you have a difficult problem with your dog, especially aggressive tendencies, you may want to seek a professional trainer to help you gain the control necessary to help keep your dog a happy and safe pet. Teaching attention is the art of presenting your dog with choices and letting him compare them. The old saying which states you can’t know short without knowing tall applies.

Feel free to e-mail with questions about your pet

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Fred Hassen
Toni Drugmand


with Fred Hassen

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