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Click for Focus

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Creating an atmosphere that's calm helps dogs get adopted. Try this simple focusing exercise as a first step. Put a good treat in your closed hand (e.g. a tiny cube of cheese) and put your fist against the wires. When the dog sniffs your hand, click and toss in the treat. Repeat twice, then put your empty fist against the wires; click for touching, and give the treat from your other hand. Move the empty hand to another spot. Repeat. Don't click for licking or mouthing, just for a gentle touch of your empty hand. In just a few minutes, without actually handling the dog, you can turn your hand into a target, something the dog can safely touch and follow. This helps the dog to calm down, focus on people, and try to earn more clicks. Volunteers can do this right in the kennel. Find out more at the shelter resource center.

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Karen Pryor is the founder and CEO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy. She is the author of many books, including Don't Shoot the Dog and Reaching the Animal Mind. Learn more about Karen Pryor or read Karen's Letters online.

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