New Year, New Dog
January 2, 2024

New Year New Dog: Learning to Focus

The new year is a great time to learn new skills and brush up on old ones! In our New Year, New Dog series we are going to help you and your dog get started on the best paw! Each week this month we'll focus on one training and pet care topic and provide step by step help and guidance. This week our goal is teaching your dog to focus while helping you develop a plan for keeping your pet a healthy weight, even with all those training treats!

2 dogs learning to focus

One, Two, Three, Eyes on Me

Let’s start the year with your dog’s eyes on you. The more easily your dog can pay attention, the easier everything else will be. This week your dog will learn to look to you for more information. 

Reward your dog for moving towards you, looking at you, or moving with you. The reward might be happy talking, gentle petting, playing with a toy, or a piece of food.  Continue to reward your dog for showing positive interactions with you so that your dog finds you more interesting than many parts of the environment. If you are looking for some additional personalized help, book a live virtual training session.

A Focused Approached - Next Steps

For additional focus training here are some resources to teach your dog to respond to his name.

Through this activity, your dog will learn to look at you. You will develop more intense focus if you use high-powered rewards. Every dog is different with what a high-level reward may be. This could be a pet store treat or it might be a small piece of cheese or chicken. I’ve met a dog who was most motivated by home-made macaroni and cheese!  

Sometimes new places can make it seem like everything your dog has learned just goes right out the window. Don't worry, there are steps you can take to help your dog focus on you, even in the most exciting locations!

With all these treats, we want to be sure that your dog has an appropriate diet and is at a good weight. Our health topic this week is evaluating your dog’s physical condition and weight management. 

Healthy Weight Management During Training

Did you know that over 50% of dogs in the US are overweight? Obesity can affect almost every organ system because fat tissue secretes inflammatory hormones and adds significant stress to the body. Obesity in dogs can cause arthritis or joint degeneration, hypertension, diabetes, as well as put our dogs at an increased risk for many cancers.  A lifetime study of a large group of Labrador Retrievers showed that being moderately overweight reduced their lifespan by up to 2 years!

So how do you balance treats and training? First, it's important to determine where your pet's body condition score is. The chart below can help and our care team is here to guide you.


Treats should only be 10% of your dog's food on daily basis but if you are doing lots of training with great high value treats, you may need to reduce the total calories your dog gets at eat meal so the daily calorie intake doesn't change too much! Don't forget, you dog may be burning more calories as they get active mentally and physically during training!

New Year, New Dog

This is part of our New Year, New Dog series. Check back next week for beginning stay training, including holding still for tick checks. Learn all about parasite prevention so that you can avoid unwanted visitors.