The *Up/Down Game is all about teaching your dog to focus but without the pressure we often put on ourselves and our dogs.
Start by introducing this game at home either in your back yard or inside your house. Take a handful of food and drop one piece on the ground right in front of your dog, when he eats the food and looks back up at you toss another piece. Continue to toss one piece at a time only when your dog looks up at you.
Make it harder by tossing the piece of food a little further away from you and only toss the next piece when your dog looks at you, then you can start to turn your back on your dog and wait for him to come and find you. Over time you can play this game during your walks around distractions.
The Up/Down Game is a fantastic way to engage your dog before you ask him to perform a more difficult skill and it also helps settle over excited or anxious dogs. This game can be played by any dog, at any level and even children will enjoy this game. The only place the Up/Down Game should not be played is in close proximity to other dogs as it has the potential to trigger a guarding response.
If your dog shows no interest in the food or looses interest during the game you may have expected too much too soon, go back a step and use a food your dog loves. For example if your dog can play this in the back yard but looses interest during a walk start playing the game in your driveway as an intermediate step. This intermediate step is great for any dog who has difficulty controlling their excitement at the beginning of the walk as well.
Take a look at the video of Nemo and I playing the Up/Down Game, this is the very first time Nemo has played.
*The Up/Down Game was created by Leslie McDevitt, an American trainer who has written many wonderful books, one being Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program.