🐾 more than a catch phrase 🐾

by Roxana / Mar 17, 2024

There’s something about these two words, together, that conjures up an image for me.  A dog staring intently at his (or her) handler, spring-loaded with anticipation and ready to work, waiting for a cue…  Okay maybe I’ve been around protection sports and Malinois for a while now — as a trainer, competitor, and as a “pet parent” too.

And focus and engagement are big, really big in many dog sports.  We want our dogs looking at us, wanting what we have (the toys, the treats, the games), ready to do what we ask them to do…

It’s not just about the way it looks from the outside, though it does look good when a dog is enthusiastic about the work.  But what is more important for me is the emotion behind it.  Because emotions are truly contagious, and if my dog is happy, then I get happy too.  And he can sure sense that, so we create a nice positive feedback look between us, and suddenly this is no longer work but it is play and isn’t that the secret of life anyway?

But not everyone is into dog sports, and working dogs can be challenging enough for a seasoned trainer let alone someone who works a “normal people,” 9 to 5 job.  So if we simply want a nice companion who will fit easily into our lifestyle, then why should we even care about focus and engagement?

Well, let me ask you something.  Would you like to improve your relationship with your dog, beyond what you have together right now?  I don’t know who would say “no.”  And when we include focus and engagement exercises in our daily routine, we do see real benefits — both for us, and our dogs. 

For one, yes training sessions do become more enjoyable, dogs learn faster, perform obedience commands with more speed, more reliability, and there’s a boost of confidence on both ends of the leash as well as a stronger bond between us.  But there is also a bigger return on investment here, with positive effects that ripple into our day to day life.  Imagine a dog who is biologically more fulfilled, more mentally satisfied, who overall listens better and gets in trouble less often (so there is less conflict between us and less frustration to go around) so we are able to enjoy each other’s company more… The pluses keep adding up, and that’s even without mentioning the benefits for behavior modification programs, and more.

And if you would like to know how get there with your own dog (or if you are a trainer and would like to learn how to include this in your training plans), I can help.  I am teaching several “Focus and Engagement” workshops this year, plus this is a topic I cover at length during group classes as well as private lessonsWe can start with a free phone consultation and take it from there.

– Roxana Vlasceanu

back to SERVICES →


“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.  And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

– Alan Watts