Training and Obedience > Question on focus (8 replies)
Question on focus
by Ramage on 01 July 2012 - 22:46
|Some dogs are naturally born with a great ability to focus and some are not. My question is for those that are not naturally well focused. Do you feel this can be worked upon, like the way drive can be built?|
I don't necessarily mean teaching the dog basics such as look/watch, more so on channeling the dog's ability to focus and stay focus.
Thanks for any input.
by beetree on 03 July 2012 - 21:34
|Maybe the focus challenged dogs don't really understand why they need to focus any more than they already are. In that case it would be something that needs to be taught, and that would be ... the teaching, first. Then you would, what, is it they say? Make the bridge to a specific thing to focus. One step at a time. I just say this because I have noticed different "learning styles" in my different dogs, and I wouldn't say one was dumb and the other smart, exactly. I would say they had different learning styles with different areas of excellence.|
My 2 cents. Or maybe 1 cent is more accurate, LOL
by Ramage on 03 July 2012 - 23:55
|Beetree - you have good cents LOL |
I was sort of thinking along the same lines, but was curious what others might say/react to this question.
Although there do tend to be some dogs who naturally have a better focus, but it does seem that all dogs can and do focus ... on something they choose to. Therefore, the focus must certainly be there but perhaps the dog needs a different way to learn to focus on the desired target or perhaps the dog is better suited in another area where his focus is the strongest?
by Sheesh on 04 July 2012 - 00:37
|I was thinking along the same lines as you both. You must find what "attracts" or motivates the dog right? Bu then I thought- what about say- an Afghan Hound or Greyhound? I wonder if one could find a way to get our kind of focus in an Afghan. BTW, I have nothing against Afghans or Greyhounds... ;-) I think they are beautiful! I often think that my young male has ADHD. He CAN focus very well, but has required a lot of patience, thank God for the ball that he will do anything for, and he is very food motivated, so tracking is lots of fun. He is not the brightest... But I have been told his brains will arrive sometime soon..fingers crossed. ;-) Theresa|
by darylehret on 06 July 2012 - 04:06
|I think dogs can benefit in their ability to focus with look/watch/catch exercises, and that what they learn from that can transfer in their ability to focus in other contexts, not directly related to such exercises (ie., article searches).|
Clarity of mind is important, so you probably would want to avoid motivators that "overstimulate" initially, but not continually, as you also want the dog to learn self-composure in the presence of escalated drive.
If the dog is understimulated, lacking drive or interest in the exercise, that can be a problem if you have no motivational means to elevate their drive. It's usually more effecient (and less futile) to have too much drive to work with, than not enough.
Repetition of the focusing exercises will improve both focus and control, but having a natural good focus beforehand is definitely a more desireable baseline to start from.
Drive with focus is preferable, and drive without focus is horrid to deal with. Focus and drive are like two sides of one coin that need to compliment one another. A launched missile is hardly worth a damn without a guidance system.
by magdalenasins on 06 July 2012 - 21:44
|I would think breed more than specific dog or bloodline carries focus and moreso than that training from the get go?|
by darylehret on 08 July 2012 - 12:50
|And prairie dogs have more focus than bison, but so what? There's enough significant variation in our breed, and training for improvement will only have so much impact (just as socialization, confidence building, drive building etc.) as possibly can from an individual's genetic stanpoint. You have some dogs that are so wound up internally that it interferes with their ability to grasp their immediate environment, making them prone to incidents of displacement aggression, more difficult to train in new tasks, and these are the dogs that can especially benefit from these types of exercises.|
by Ramage on 10 July 2012 - 20:18
|I think finding out what motivates the dog definitely must help LOL. |
One of mine appears much more motivated by the tennis ball vs the kong ball. Focus and workability is improved enough for me to NOTICE it by using the tennis ball instead. I guess this is a simplified example
I wouldn't have said breed or bloodline brings focus ... I know it can do so. However, it seems that the idividual dog is what determines the focus. No doubt it will vary greatly from one dog to the next even within the same bloodline. Or do you mean, specifically, that if you want focus you should lean towards a particular line? But if so, wouldn't that rule out some possibly excellent dogs if we don't look at the individual?
by darylehret on 11 July 2012 - 04:45
|Not something you would want to overselect for, but consider other valuable traits as well. For example, examine the overall index of trainability (focus, drive, intelligence, bidability), and not solely for focus. As in all things, there is some interrelatedness, such that focus can be affected by cooperative demeanor or by level of intelligence. It's easy to think that drive IS in some way focus, because of how it affects focus.|
Remember though, the motivation (food, toy, praise, bite, or whatever) is NOT the focus, but the value of such motivators are a reflection of the present drive level for the dog. For these motivators to reinforce a keen presence of mind (meaning, focus), what becomes important is the timing of the reward and manner of presentation. The object of motivation is basically the catalyst for those two points. Some motivators overstimulate, leading to poorer focus until they have become 'conditioned' (for lack of a better word) or accustomed to asserting their attention through elevated drives.