Purpose: Focus forward takes the Teaching Stillness exercise to the next level and asks the dog to focus forward away from the handler… Which can be a very difficult skill for some dogs, especially since we’ve been building attention to the handler basically their whole lives!
Equipment: Manners Minder (Treat n Train), Plyo Box, 2 rubber bowls or other raised foot targets
Targets: This exercise will be important moving forward when it’s not possible for the handler to deliver rewards… Either due to location (behind/to the side of the dog, etc.) or because both the handler’s hands are occupied.
In the beginning, moving slowly (meaning no quick movements), and moving only a little at a time are important. I reward A LOT, which helps/cues my dog to look forward, and also builds high value for forward head position.
If the dog DOES look away from the MM toward the handler, wait for the tiniest return of focus to the MM (even an eye flick) and reward with a JACKPOT! On the next repetition, make a tiny body movement, and repeat the jackpot, rewarding heavily for proper head position until the dog is maintaining position happily. Only then would I continue to make the handler location more difficult.
Necessary Skills: Separately from any equipment, Ron Burgundy had already been introduced to the Manners Minder (Treat n Train).