Never Lose Your Dog Again: 5 Connection Games for Training & Trials

Friday Oct 4

9:15 AM

Experience Level: All

Are you struggling to maintain your dog’s focus during training or trials?

Common reasons dogs disconnect include:

-Dog isn’t mentally ready to work
-Distractions are too much for the dog
-The handler disconnects from the dog
-The dog doesn’t understand generalization
-The dog disconnects after a reward

Thankfully, there’s something we can do: we can play games that are fun and instill naturally focussed attention that will hold up in challenging environments—even the competition ring.

During this session, we’ll dive into why your dog disconnects. Then, you’ll learn a variety of games that prevent your dog from disconnecting and reduce the chance that your dog will disconnect in the future.

Finally, you will learn how to observe and listen to your dog through the different games. If your dog is telling you it’s too hard, you’ll know while playing the games, before you ever ask for behaviors!

Join Nicole to achieve better connection with your dog!

Presenter Bio

Nicole Wiebusch

Nicole Wiebusch CPDT-KA (she/her) has been competing in dog sports for over 25 years. Starting in 4-H, Nicole quickly became addicted to the sport of obedience and has been showing in obedience, rally, and agility ever since. Her first golden retriever, Tucker CDX RAE MX MXJ, was her “crossover” dog, the one who taught her the value of positive reinforcement training.

Her second golden retriever, Toby, earned multiple high-level titles in obedience, rally, and agility. Toby earned a UDX2 and OM3 in obedience, and was retired just 30 points shy of finishing his OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion) due to physical reasons. Toby also earned an RAE in rally, and at two separate Golden Retriever National Specialties, won the very large Advanced Rally classes. Throughout his career, Toby won multiple High in Trial and High Combined awards. Toby passed away in 2021 at the amazing age of 15 years and 8 months. He taught Nicole to enjoy the journey and made her laugh every time she stepped foot into a ring.

Strive is Nicole’s third golden and first female. She is in the Golden Retriever Club of America’s (GRCA) Obedience Dog Hall of Fame for her High in Trial awards in obedience. She earned her RACH (Rally Championship) with numerous High Triples and High Combineds. Strive produced a fabulous litter whose accomplishments have earned her the title of Outstanding Dam through the GRCA. Strive is currently enjoying being trained and shown by Nicole’s daughter in agility, rally, obedience, and 4-H.

Excel is Strive’s son and Nicole’s 4th golden retriever. He is very close to earning his RACH and is competing in agility. Excel taught Nicole the importance of life skills, reward markers, and relaxation techniques.

Finally, Rise is Nicole’s youngest golden. He has earned his Novice Trick Dog title and is learning to be a good puppy. Rise is a fabulous pup and Nicole is excited to see where their journey leads.

Nicole started Golden Paws Dog Training LLC in 2008. She teaches both pet people and dog sports enthusiasts dog-friendly training methods. Nicole has been an instructor for FDSA since 2019, teaching rally, obedience, and foundation classes. She is also a TEAM judge and has earned both the Obedience/Rally/Freestyle Trainer’s Certificate and the Sports Foundation Trainer’s Certificate from FDSA. In addition, Nicole is a CPDT-KA, a Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog evaluator, a Professional Member of the APDT, and the leader and trainer for the local 4-H Dog program.

Nicole resides in Northern Minnesota with her husband, three children, and multiple dogs and horses. Aside from dog training, she enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with her horses.

Nicole’s website can be found at and she can be contacted at