Pawsitive Vybe S2E4 – Recapping Key Concepts

In this episode you can see Attention, Targeting, and Threshold not only being used but being leveraged to reinforce, teach, and perform behaviors in a controlled and efficient manner. In fact, it kind of looks like everything is a product of those 3 key concepts, doesn’t it?

The 3 concepts we’ve covered so far: Attention and Targeting, and Threshold are active in nearly every cooperative skill you do with your dog. Let’s revisit and focus on leveraging them.


Pawsitive Vybe is a weekly 1/2 hour dog training & lifestyle webseries on YouTube that is seeking wider distribution and production support. It is self produced by Ron Watson of Pawsitive Vybe. If you dig it, share it, it’s free.
crossposted @ Pawsitive Vybe


these concepts are your dog’s behavioral vocabulary
their ideas, tools, and understanding


Surf by Segment:

1:16 – Target to Stand with Loot
1:59 – Targeting for Disc Dog Set Up MovesSet Up Moves are tricks that are used to establish timing and position in disc dog freestyle. Traditional tricks include: Around, Through, Backwards Through, and Scoot, but any or all of your tricks, could, conceivably, become a Set Up Move, just put it in front of something else. Set Up Moves are tricks that are used to establish timing and...
3:05 – Show Intro
7:26 – AttentionUnsolicited eye contact or Attention is a great way to hook up with a dog. If you have something the dog wants he should give eye contact in order to get access to it. This quickly becomes akin to asking permission for things that the dog wants. If your dog offers Attention when they see something they want, most dog... while Standing
9:49 – Capturing the Foot Target
11:27 – FitPaws – Growing Up with Lois Lane
12:25 – Warm Up & Mo Moves with Biscuit
13:59 – Generalizing the ThresholdA dog’s working state can be said to be over or under Threshold. A dog that is over Threshold has trouble working. A dog that is under Threshold is in good shape to do work. Threshold is often the difference between Drive and Arousal. If your dog gets too high and winds up over Threshold then they move from Drive...
16:36 – Q&A – Why Targeting?
18:09 – ShapingShaping is a learning technique where successive approximation and a Positive Marker are used to teach behaviors and communicate concepts. Successive approximation essentially means continually closer to the target behavior. So Shaping is a learning technique where you continually get closer and closer to the target behavior using a Positive Marker to tell the dog when she is right. It... Foot Target Duration
20:49 – Multiple Dogs… Multiple Thresholds
23:02 – Q&A – What Kind of Cookies to Use
26:06 – Bringing It Home with the Biscuit

Leveraging Concepts

Between the Fact of Dog stuff (daily interaction with dogs), your set times for structured work and training, and the happenstance hook ups between you and your dog, there are many opportunities to play around with and exercise these concepts.

These concepts become your dog’s behavioral vocabulary; key words that reliably create meaningful and clever phrases and sentences. Dialogue and action between you and your dog.

Words and phrases are written, but words and phrases are also read. These base level concepts, these powerful words and phrases, start to define your dog’s perception of the world and their interaction with it.

These concepts also serve as tools in your behavioral toolbox that you and your dog carry with you to tackle tough jobs competently and efficiently.

Create and then leverage those tools in your training and your daily life. Define those words and write silly songs with your dog. Once you’ve used a good set of tools or start to reliably write some nice lyrics, it’s kind of addictive… fun, even. Working with your dog gets to be pretty cool.

Rewarding With Action

We talk about cookies a bunch as dog trainers. Cookies are anything the dog wants or that reinforces behavior we are looking for.

Action, in the form chase, is a great reinforcer. So the presentation and movement of a hand target or a presentation and movement of the lure can be reinforcing in and of itself. You can take eye contactUnsolicited eye contact or Attention is a great way to hook up with a dog. If you have something the dog wants he should give eye contact in order to get access to it. This quickly becomes akin to asking permission for things that the dog wants. If your dog offers Attention when they see something they want, most dog... and reinforce with an active lure or a hand target.

If it moves somewhat quickly and is a bonafide opportunity, the dog will hop on it and enjoy it whatever it is. This can be far more motivating than eating a piece of kibble and can be budgeted right into whatever game it is you are playing.

You and your dog get to skip irrelevant behavior like getting set up, and avoid a whole bunch of potential pitfalls like eating crumbs off the floor or getting out of position. It’s pretty nifty for efficiency and flow, too.

Dogs that have a nice working history and reward history can be easily reinforced with the next cue. Whatever cue is next will do. Dogs live for next, and will be keen on it forever if there is always a payout not too far down the line. When and how you offer the cue is key.

Rewarding with Action requires that your action is consequent – that it happens because of the result of a well performed, bonafide behavior. “Attention makes the moving hand target happen…”. It also requires your dog having a keen desire and understanding of work. Trying this with a BS motivator, a meaningless behavior, or because you’re desperate to hook up with the dog, will fail.

Attention as Gateway Drug

Attention is the baseline skill for cooperative work. Here at Pawsitive Vybe it’s the thing that makes every thing else happen. If there is nothing happening, I should be giving Attention. After they give attention, other things start to happen – like eating cookies… or something else that leads to eating cookies or biting a toy.

Attention is Awesome! And Attention is stable. The dog sits and gives eye contact while giving Attention. That’s what happens, and Attention works. Using Attention in a challenging position, like standing on hinds, or while balancing on a challenging pedestalSpot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A Pedestal is a raised spot. Anything a dog can leap onto and perch upon. Spots and Pedestals are important dog training tools.... like my foot, is stabilizing and empowering; emotionally and physically.

Along with being awesome & stable, Attention is the start of everything. So we start with stable position and eye contact and we do something from there. This quickly tells the dog that there is more to do while in this position than just hold position. If you can stand on your hind legs while giving me eye contact, you can Target my hand while standing on your hind legs, you can turn your head and bark!

It’s like a gateway drug. Attention is the Gateway to layering behaviors. And once you start layering behaviors anything is possible.

Discussion in Comments Below

I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions on the show, Attention/DismissalTargeting, or Threshold in the comments below. Don’t be shy, the only silly questions are the ones not asked.