Dog Sports Skills, Book 4: Focus and Engage!

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Denise Fenzi and Deborah Jones
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Fenzi Dog Sports Academy

Struggling to keep and maintain your dog's attention during training or competition? Sure that your dog knows all of the work, if only he would focus and stay engaged?

In the highly anticipated fourth (and final?) book in the "Dog Sports Skills" series, authors Denise Fenzi and Deb Jones turn their attention to the topics of Focus and Engagement. This book is a fantastic addition which is sure to broaden your understanding of a crucial element of training performance dogs.

In the first several chapters, Fenzi and Jones take a hard look at the factors that create Focus challenges in our performance dogs, and then systematically offer solutions for addressing them.

The next several chapters provide detailed, step by step instructions for teaching your dog to focus, covering a focus "foundation", adding behaviors, duration and movement, and finally distractions and other challenges are addressed. The topic of focus is then wrapped up with a series of Focus games which are designed to be light, entertaining for all parties, all while assisting in the more serious business of getting your dog focused!

The second part of the book focuses on understanding and developing trained Engagement; the process of teaching one's dog to push for a chance to work, and to value that training time above all else!

Engagement training is broken down into specific steps, and is laid out in a logical and methodical fashion over several chapters. Handling disengagement is addressed, as is the process of moving away from classic food and toy reinforcers and into the competition arena, where strong Engagement is vital to success!

Between focus and Engagement training, struggling competitors are likely to find the missing piece between training at home with cookies and trialing in the challenging competition setting.

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  • 5
    Dog Sports Skills Book 4 Focus and Engage!

    Posted by Allyson Tohme on 7th Sep 2022

    Book 4 in this series is in the same large format consisting of over 200 pages divided into 23 chapter with copious illustrations.
    In Part 1 the authors start off explaining the difference between focus and engagement and quickly move on to introduce the issues that may affect the former such as Stress, Anxiety, Fear, Curiosity, Temperament and Training.
    These are then explored in detail so that the reader can consider which, if any, apply to them; using a list of questions provides the student an opportunity for reflection and contemplation.
    Part 2 looks at building the foundations of focus to add desired behaviours with duration and distraction. The writers list 18 games aimed at developing various skills and concepts in your dog.
    The final part of this publication investigates Engagement, its meaning, what it looks like on both sides; canine and human and asks, can it really be trained and if so how? Again there are some examples to follow.
    The writers have put some meat on the bone of terms which have no universally acknowledged definition. I think they have met their objective which was to bridge the gap between vague advice and practical techniques in this series so that owners have something tangible to take away from the written word and apply to their own situations.
    There is a lot to learn and digest in this book and it contains something of value for everyone.