I have a high energy dog that's very easily distracted. I want to start doing exercises that will make him focus on me even with distractions around (eventually).

I am reading a book and the first exercise suggested there is to make him touch a target (my hand e.g.).

But I was wondering if there aren't any better exercises out there. I don't necessarily mean more complex. It's just that I don't see how touching my hand will ever be useful.

So: what are good focus exercises for a dog with a lot of energy?

  • 1
    Watch is useful, sit, stay, food refusal... he'll focus on any of them - so long as it takes his focus onto you and your request. As for a favourite, that's just per person opinion, asking what is a useful focus exercise would be better.
    – Aravona
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 12:18
  • Touching your hand (or your selected Target) is incredibly useful for one important thing: make the dog come to you! The task for the dog may be "touch hand", but the use for you is "Get dog to come to me and focus on touching my hand", which will effectively keep it from doing OTHER things.
    – Layna
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


There are plenty of focus exercises to choose from for any energy level dog.

As an example there are:

  • Watch, get your dog into any position and make them watch a treat in your hand, if you take the treat to your eye level and lower the treat slowly the dog should wait until it's told (for us thats right by his nose without him moving) until he can have it. If the dog jumps up, you start over.
  • Sit and Stay, these usually go hand in hand but a rock solid stay should leave your dog in a position with you able to walk around the room and around the dog, without them moving.
  • Food Refusal, this is where you leave a treat in front of the dog and they do not take it until you tell them to. We can now do this with at least one treat on each front paw. This is also good for dogs who are grabby with meals.
  • On Your Bed, this is a handy one but take a blanket or the dogs bed and get them to perform a sit on it... Then slowly move further away until you can send them to their bed and they sit there for you.
  • Distance training, this is getting dogs to do sits, downs etc from a distance. Start a few steps away from your dog and then move another few steps back etc until you can ask your dog to sit from across the room.
  • Recall, always great to have a solid recall. It means your dog should be listening out for you calling them back regardless of what play, or distractions, there may be.

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