The Disc Dog Freestyler's Companion

Art of K9Disc Delayed

Hey Everybody!

The Art of K9Disc is delayed.


The Art of K9Disc – The Disc Dog Freestyler’s Companion – set to be released Oct 13th has been delayed. There is a complete rewrite being done at this time. It the rewrite will be quick and efficient but it will take some time.


My editor, who signed on very late in the process, has strongly advised me to make the book a bit more formal in style, and I reluctantly agreed with her.

After the rewrite of the first chapter, I was totally sold. The book will be much better as a result of the editor’s suggestion to bump up to a more proper and serious tone.


For everyone who pre-ordered, please accept my apologies for not getting this out in time and understand that I am doing this to improve the quality of the book and to better communicate the Art of K9Disc in this book that has been so long in the making.


A hard release date cannot be given at this time, but it won’t be long. This has been my primary focus in my life for the last few months and it will continue to be until physical books are shipped. Hey Everybody!

I will announce progress weekly on our FB page –

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pedestal training for dog sports

PVybe Disc Dog & Dog Sport Camp – Pedestals FTW

Last week I started a recap of our recent dog sport behavior camp at K-9′s Come 1st in Ft Meyers, FL.

Not to toot our own horns or anything, but we killed it. It was such a cool camp experience for us. I wrote about the Early Birds on Friday and how the led the way to great performance and understanding on Saturday and Sunday.

Having a group that was 1 step ahead of the class was a great benefit and really helped to make the weekend flow, but it was the Pedestals we used to stabilize the dogs that was the real game changer. It allowed us to lay out the basics of our training methodology and deliver practical mechanics, and provided a never ending fountain of opportunity to illustrate and demonstrate our training techniques and to focus instruction. And, by the end of the weekend we had Flyball dogs lying down on their pedestals next to dogs doing bitework and/or handlers who were able to keep their dog engaged and somewhat calm. It was pretty huge.

Camp Outline

What Is a Pedestal?

A pedestal is a table or raised spot apparatus. Anything the dog can jump up on and hang out can be considered a pedestal. We also used exercise balls and balance discs in this session.

Our idea here was to use the Pedestals as a practical backdrop for our theory instruction and as a structured learning activity for the handlers. Asking teams to perform the simple Pedestal (get up on the pedestal, eat cookies, get off) with proper communication was a terrific vehicle for a practical introduction to our dog sport training foundation.

Localizing the Dog

This was a huge asset to how camp went off and was quite a big deal for both the handler’s of ape!@#$ dogs and dogs who were a bit nervous. These dogs wound up pulling towards and focused on the pedestal area upon coming into the training area. Having 6-7 working dogs out at a time is much easier when your dog has an understanding of a localized work area. It allowed us to run 84 15 minute training sessions per day during camp.

Setting Criteria, Shaping Behavior, and Building Duration

We shaped the pedestals for the most part. Using dog and handler’s behaviors, both good and bad, as an opportunity to capture and shape the appropriate behavior really provided an ongoing and dynamic illustration of our instruction.

We moved from a discussion of classical vs operant and rewarding for position, shoveling food to create value (desire before duration), etc. in the first session to a discussion about criteria, marking, communication and operant conditioning, in the second session. And all the while we were dropping our theory and instruction right over top of this. It was pretty smooth.

By the time we were ready to do bitework the dogs gave attention on their pedestals, the handlers knew how to communicate and how to adjust criteria well enough to understand and run the bitework game to teach a huge variety of skills.

Weaving the Tapestry

I just can’t get over how nice it was to have people working their dogs in the background as Apryl and I were teaching. I was talking for the most part (shocking, I know…) and Apryl was moving around the working group helping people out here and there and delivering the practical performance I was asking for at critical teaching moments. I was moving through the group as well, trying to illustrate or highlight important aspects of our lesson plan.

boston terrier on frisbeeThat big giant mindmap up there, we hit everything but 4 or 5 topics, and hit them rather holistically. Everyone got a ton of practical work and a ton of theory and they got a calm dog to boot. Personally, I was skeptical as to whether or not we could cover everything, but as the weekend went on things just fell right into place.

The boring stuff that usually makes people’s eyes glaze over (Theory and Trainer’s Toolbox above)? That stuff was put to use immediately, and was applied in real situations as it was being laid out in words. We were able to isolate moments in training and attach them to specific points in the lecture and then revisit them throughout the weekend.

Our tapestry was functional and interesting to look at. It told the whole story. I think people got it and wove it right into their understanding and practice.

Moving Forward with Pedestals

We’ve had a couple of clients mention their success with Pedestals in Flyball practice and with training in general. It’s no surprise that stuff is like magic. I’m sure they will be moving on with their Pedestal training.

As for us, we use pedestals every day, but we are going to feature pedestals in our Disc Dog Camps. It’s an incredible tool for managing drive and handling reactivity, a huge problem that rarely gets addressed in the disc dog world. It will allow us to quickly and clearly lay out most of our training theory, and you’ll walk out with a dog who can chill in the presence of discs.

How cool is that?

Up Next – Taking the Show on the Road

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bitework for drive and behavior

PVybe Dog Sport Behavior Camp – Organization

Holy moly! Last weekend was pretty awesome. Nothing like leaving the frozen tundra behind and landing in beautiful Ft. Meyers for 3 days of intensive dog training with dog sport enthusiasts.

It was a Herculean task – 21 working teams with 4 reactive dogs – and we wound up delivering 84 15 minute sessions per day on a variety of foundational dog training skills while simultaneously delivering the Pawsitive Vybe.

This is the first of a few posts I will be making about this awesome weekend of training. I want to share the event with everyone and also want to wrap my head around the whole thing and get my thoughts in order.

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#SoMe – Social Media – You, Me and All of Our “Friends”

SoMe a Film Review

Update: Here’s the film in it’s entirety… Loren opened it up for free viewing – If you dig it, you should buy it

Loren Feldman is a friend of mine and my dogs and I are featured briefly in the film.

What Is #SoMe?

Social Media, it’s the rage. It’s the future. It’s different. It’s special. It’s community. It’s crazy.

#SoMe, a Loren Feldman film, attempts to tell that story and does so in an interesting way.

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dog training webseries project update

PVybe Life Season 2 – Post Project Wrap Up

For the last 47 days we have been running a project on Indiegogo to crowdfund Season 2 of the PVybe Life. It was a great experience. All told we brought in right around $3000 in gear and cash from the project, not the $5466 we were looking for, but we got lots of support from a bunch of cool people, we got a gopro action camera and we are going to use the funds to get a new main camera and new wireless mic system for the show, and that’s pretty awesome!

Over the next few weeks we will be making good on our fulfillment of all of our perks – check your mail – and we will be doing some shopping. We’re looking at starting the show in late April or early May. So exciting.

Big thanks to all of you got behind the project and put your money where your passion is. We’re going to do our best to put out an awesome show. We’ll be in touch soon…

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dog training and lifestyle show

Crowdfunding the PVybe Life – Become a Backer of Our Show

Dog Training and Lifestyle Show

a message to our incredibly wonderful Backers:  Apryl and I are inspired, excited, and extremely grateful for your generous support. $1000 down, $4400 to go! Thank you so much!

Season 2 Coming Soon!

We’re 18% Funded – $1000

Before I get started here, thanks need to go out to those of you who have already backed the project.

I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit over the last couple months I guess, but we’ve been working really hard kicking out content, but if you’re hooked up with us on FB or G+, you know that already.

In case you didn’t know we have been kicking out a 1/2 weekly dog training and lifestyle show on YouTube for the last 10 weeks. Episodes 1-10 functioned as a pilot season allowing us to dial in production and story development. The show aims to draw focus on life with a dozen plus dogs and deliver top shelf dog training instruction and concepts.

We started back in early December and have been working hard to improve the quality of production in the show. If you take a quick look at episode 2 or 3 and compare it to #10, it’s a pretty startling transformation. We’ve come a long way and are ready to take it to the next level.

This Is Where You Come In

We have decided to crowdfund Season 2 on Indiegogo. What is crowdfunding?

Check out what Wikipedia says:

Crowd funding or crowdfunding (alternately crowd financingequity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via theInternet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding,movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research.

Project & Perks

We have a $5466 (spells Kimo on a phone) project on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding company that has put out thousands of awesome projects. The way that Indiegogo is set up is super cool. It’s kind of like a telethon – you decide what you’re willing invest in the show and we give you awesome gifts and perks in exchange for your support. This project when we hit 100% will net us just over $5000

We’ve got great Apryl Art & Abby Art in our perks – nothing like custom canine art, right? We’re also offering online instruction and sponsorship opportunities on the show.

We’re looking to tap our network of crazy dog people, family and friends to help fund this show. We have a lot of professional connections, we have big families, and quite a few friends and acquaintances.  To all of you guys:

We need your support to make Season 2 a reality.


We’ve been putting out some great content for the last few years, on this blog and on YouTube and we really want to keep it coming and keep it free. We also want to improve our production value so it’s easier to take a couple of Expert Frisbee Hippies™ with crazy pack of dogs seriously. We do a good job of delivering effective, efficient, and outside the box dog training and disc dog instruction, and we have this pack of unique and interesting dogs…

Let me put it to you this way? When’s the last time you’ve seen someone work 7-10 dogs at once? Not like a routine, but actual off the cuff interaction? Where else are you going to see a dozen dogs’ natural interaction for a couple minutes?

We have hit the wall in terms of our production ability on a few fronts. Broken cameras, not enough storage, not enough light, jury rigged wireless audio, there’s a bunch of things we need to take this show to the next level.

Where Will the Money Go?

One word,”Equipment.” Cameras, audio, storage, and lighting, if you want a bit more specificity. We have a wishlist of equipment you can check out at BH Photo. That’s where the money is going to go. It’s properly prioritized and is the minimum we require to put out a broadcast quality show. You can see that all but a sliver of the money is accounted for in that list of equipment. The rest will go towards paint and such to dress up the studio a bit more.

What’s Next?

Having just wrapped up Season 1, we’re turning our attention to our Indiegogo project. At the time of writing, we’re sitting at 18% of our goal. Not bad for not really having pushed it outside of a few posts on facebook. Over next 30 days we will be promoting the show, and fulfilling our obligations to our backers: sending out handwritten letters, making art, organizing online instruction… Stay tuned to our project page on Indiegogo and our social media channels for the latest news.

Now click on this link and back our show!

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Pawsitive Vybe Weekly Dog Training Show

PVybe Life – A Weekly 1/2 Hour Dog Training Lifestyle Show

A Half Hour per Week? You Crazy?

A few weeks ago, as the End of the World and Christmas were bearing down on us, we had a glut of video footage. That’s often the case here, we shoot lots of video… I decided to throw caution to the wind and put together a weekly 1/2 hour dog training show. 22 minutes or more, per week, of dog training, disc dogging and general PVybe Lifestyle. A half hour episode per week is a pretty serious endeavor…

PVybe Life is a dog training variety show with short edutainment pieces based on our dog training and lifestyle. It’s pretty sweet. Each short segment is linked from the YouTube description page and allows you to surf segment by segment.

We’re now on Episode 4 of Season 1 (coming out this afternoon @ 12:30 PM ET) and are gearing up for 6 more episodes to round out the season. Click the image above for the lean back experience and if you want to check out the navigation, you’ll have to go to the video on our YT page.

Timecode Navigation

Timecode Segment NavigationWe will also be using timecode links to these segments to supplement our distance learning program and other blog posts with topical video content, which is super cool. You can surf the episode segment by segment.

Pilot Season

In order to push ourselves into creating a bonafide show, we’re just doing it. Putting ourselves on a schedule and working to dial things in as we go. Each week things are getting a bit more tight. We’ve done rescue dog pieces, disc dog training, disc dog camp, and some traveling with the pack kind of stuff. There’s some fluff, and it’s rather long form, but it’s full of tips and tricks and valuable dog training.

This first season is pretty much a pilot program; getting our workflow together, smoothing out technical details and developing different types of segments, etc. We’ll get 10 episodes in the bag and take a break to evaluate our situation and get our stuff together to create a bigger and better 2nd season sometime in the spring.

Apryl & I are both really excited about this project and hope you are too. We will be posting serious breakdowns of each episode here on the blog, so stay tuned.

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50% Off Dog Sport and Dog Training Video Assessments


We’re testing out a new application: Wishpond. It is a social media sales campaign application that integrates with all of the popular social networks and has a tipping point kind of effect. It’s super easy to share and distribute offers that we make to the social media world, one of the harder things to do as a small business.

The Offer

I didn’t quite know what to expect when setting up this offer, so the information is a bit sparse. This offer is for 50% off of an online video assessment, normally $20, but with this offer it is $10.

About Video Assessments

You upload the video you want assessed (5 minutes max) via a button on our blog. It goes to your YouTube page with a unique tag and notifies us that it has been uploaded. You can also just link to an existing YT video from our submission form as well.

I will get the notification and then I will watch it and take notes and give you a detailed assessment of the video. We like to do these publicly, meaning we do a really nice public blog post, but we can do these privately if you insist.

I’ll post some additional info – sample assessments and questions answered – in the FB comments box below.

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Public Access with Apryl Lea

Pit Bull Assistance Dog Public Access with Apryl Lea

Last year, Apryl started an Assistance Dog Training Program for Animal Farm Foundation. It’s been going well, if a little slow, but she’s been building relationships with shelters and rescues across the country and we’ve been living with a few “pit bull” type dogs who are in training. It’s been sweet getting to know these guys and amazing to see them realize that they have a job to do once that vest goes on. It’s pretty special stuff, for sure.

Here is a playlist of the Assistance Dog candidates that Apryl’s been working with doing Public Access and a couple of other lessons. It’s about 18 minutes long in total.

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PVybe Disc Dog Camp Personal Lesson Registration

PVybe Washington Disc Dog Camp Personals

Secure Your Personal Lesson Below

Personal Lessons are booking up fast for the Pvybe Washington Disc Dog Camp. We’re about 1/2 full for what we expected for the weekend, but have only heard from a few people.

There are still spots available, and if lots of people are interested we can adjust the schedule to accommodate more personal sessions. There is plenty of time available over the weekend, but we need to know and we need a commitment from you to make it happen.

Small Groups Possible

We can handle small group personals, and they’re the same price as the normal hour and half hour sessions. Group personals allow for the most efficient use of time and for the most bang for the buck. Get with a friend or 2 and get better learning for less money. It’s a winner!

*Internet Explorer has a problem with our website. We suggest using another browser…

If you have questions and comments sound off in the comment section below.

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Test of FB on WP with Explanation…

Here is another FB to WP Test with a new app. The other App, Pawsitive Vybe Blog was created a long time ago and did not go through the same setup as this new one.

Some people said that they were unable to act on the like and subscribe buttons that the Facebook for WordPress plugin creates so I decided to try and follow the directions precisely. This post will have to be published before the application can work, so I’ll just go ahead and add a picture to this and publish.

After I publish I will then edit and schedule the post for some short time in the future. Then this post should hit my stream for just me to see.

Once that is done I will then try to submit the action so that these crossposts can be seen live and in public.

That’s the plan anyway, wish me luck.


OK… so did that and now have create another blog post to see if the Social Publisher option works. I’m copying and pasting all of the meta info and will be doing the full complement of Mentions and status updates… wish me luck.

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Testing FB on WP

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Judging Difficulty and Canine SubElements

I am writing this opinion piece as myself, a dog trainer and disc dog competitor and my comments do not, in any way, represent the USDDN or the USDDN Steering Committee.

I got a couple of questions about USDDN judging sent to me via a Facebook message from Mila, who lives in Moscow, Russia. Mila handles judging for the Disc Hunters, a Russian Disc Dog Club. It’s a two part-er so I’ll take it in chunks…

Hi! RON!
would you please help us with the following questions:
a) scoring at some sub-elements of Canine Elements, for example
Prey Drive and Grip should be done taking in to account difficulty of
the routine?

as the USDDN Judging Handbook reads at “Scoring Examples”:
If the player attempts and made any sub-element with good success
and difficulty they will usually receive 1.9-2.2

so we wish to precise how difficulty influences scoring for
Prey Drive and Grip sub-elements?

The Short answer is that that it doesn’t.

Independent Elements

The USDDN separates each Element: Canine, Player, Team and Execution. Each one is supposed to be judged independently. That’s the way the contest is designed. The scores a team gets in the Player and Team Elements are seriously impacted by difficulty, but the Canine element, not so much.

The job of the Dog judge is to observe the dog and score the dog on what the dog does on the field. The type of throw the player makes, or the type of vault done should have very little, if any, impact on the Dog’s score. What the Dog judge is looking at is the athletic scale, the smoothness, and the style of the dog, how the dog handles a disc in their mouth and the ability of the dog to perform the retrieve.


Grip is not impacted whatsoever by the difficulty of the routine. It’s just a function of having a good handle on the disc. Now, personally, I don’t care whether or not the dog has a firm grip on the disc or not – In all honesty, I think it’s a silly element to be judging – what I would be looking for is that the dog does a good job of handling the disc. The dog is not taco-ing, killing or shredding the disc, or errantly dropping it on the retrieve. I could care less if the dog is dangling the disc from a tooth. As long as they are on task and do not drop the disc because of that loose grip, I’m cool with that.

Funny enough, the real issue around Grip tends to be focused on too much, or too excited a grip on the disc, and not too much, so you could see a dog that just crushes discs getting a bad grip score if it overwhelms them and detracts from the flow and presentation of the routine.

It’s a safety issue as well, in that nobody wants to see a handler get bit or a dog get their face cut off by a shredded and damaged disc.

Now, not all judges are going to see it this way, but that’s my interpretation of the Grip rule.

Personally I’d like to see Grip and Retrieve rolled into a Canine Disc Management subelement that would give judges more freedom in making these kinds of judgement calls.

Prey Drive

Prey Drive, like Grip, is judged independently of the routine difficulty. What you are looking for with Prey Drive is focus on the task at hand and efficient and determined action towards the game. Like Grip, this is a Goldilocks situation. Too little drive – dog disengaging or not being really interested in the disc will result in a lower score. Too much drive – dog is overwhelmed by the disc and is unable to perform the set up skills and tricks that happen between the discs being caught, and the dog will earn a lower score.

Drive ≠ Arousal

Something that is super important to keep in mind regarding Drive is that Drive does not equal Arousal. So many handlers and judges conflate these two concepts. Drive is action and energy and focus applied to work. Arousal is just action and energy with a lack of focus towards work. So a dog who sits patiently and waits for their opportunity to get a disc, and engages quickly and directly on the task at hand, be it a set up move or chasing a disc, has better Drive than a dog that is flying around jumping, biting, and barking and is frequently out of position to work. Also over aroused dogs that pressure their handlers so much that it detracts from the routine – no matter how high they are jumping, or how excited they are about the game, are not displaying Drive. They are displaying arousal. Drive is action, energy and focus applied towards work.

b) and the relating question -

what the “difficulty” of the routine means?
how we can estimate whether the routine is difficult,
very difficult or not difficult at all?

is there difficulty of tricks should be taken into account
or/and difficulty of tricks bunches or/and anything else
to be considerated while judging?

thank you a lt in advance for your great help!!

with truly best regards, Mila

This is a really good question, Mila! I’m sure you could ask 100 players and get 100 totally different answers here.

What is Difficult?

Estimating the difficulty of the routine is based on experience and understanding of athletics in general, and is primarily handled by the Head Judge (all Team Elements) and the Player Judge in the Release Diversity and Rhythmic Team subelements. And of course a difficult routine will bleed over into the Canine and other Player and Team elements, it’s a natural response to Awesome, but the Canine and those other Player elements are not designed to judge difficulty or to be impacted by difficulty, and they should not be swayed much, if at all, by the difficulty of the routine.

Let’s look at some of the Team Elements that are judged by the Head Judge and see how they could be judged in terms of difficulty:

Two Different Overs

Overs are when the dog leaps over a part of the handler’s body – a leg, a hoop, over the body. The scale of the over is important towards judging difficulty, as is the release. A dog leaping over a standing handler is, most likely, harder than an over while the handler is laying down, or kneeling. A butterfly Over is more difficult than a regular backhand toss.

The timing of the throw and the separation between the handler’s hand and the disc when it is caught by the dog also bears heavily on difficulty. A tiny little toss that the dog catches 15cm (6 inches) from the handler’s hand should be less impressive in terms of difficulty than a disc that is caught 75cm (30 inches) from the handler’s hand. Overs that are well thrown are more difficult than near takes.

A blind throw (handler can’t see dog) or a blind catch (dog can’t see disc) or limited visibility throws and catches are more difficult.

Another thing that is important in judging the difficulty of overs, and that impacts every single one of these things is what happened right before it. A Flip to Over, for instance – dog flips and immediately does an over – is most likely more difficult than a simple over that takes place with a dog standing a meter or two away from the handler.

A unique or difficult body position by the handler could impact difficulty as well. Handler or team movement during an over is also an indicator of difficulty.

Two Vaults

Overs and Vaults are very similar skills, and are also very similar in terms of judging their difficulty. The type of release, timing of release and separation between the catch and the handler’s hand, team movement, Flip (or any trick) to Vault, and unique or difficult positioning or vaulting platform will impact difficulty.

The scale of the vault in terms of height from the ground may or may not add difficulty to a vault, depending on the judge.

Multiple Segment

Release, scale, dogs movement – flipping, side to side, standing on hind legs, all of these things should be factored in when assessing difficulty of the multiple. Also there’s the speed of the multiple that should be taken into effect.

Dog Catch

Similar to Vaults and Overs…

Team Movement

Unique or interesting team movement can have a positive effect on difficulty. Tight flow and unique starting and set up moves and position often makes the sum of a sequence greater than it’s parts in terms of difficulty.

Passing Segments

Again, very similar to vaults and overs…

Directional Distance Movement

These are typically Zig Zags, Crossing patterns and Around the World type moves. Their difficulty is primarily judged by the releases thrown and the intent of the handler. Is the handler just chucking discs out there? Or is the handler putting discs in a spot to enhance the pattern or to punctuate the pattern with a big leap?

Wrapping it Up

There is no real formula for difficulty in Dog Frisbee, but many of the general principles have all been outlined above. No two judges will see things exactly the same in terms of difficulty. What some people find difficult, others see as easy. That’s the way subjective judging goes.
I hope this helps, Mila, and I hope some other people chime in on this important and interesting topic. Comments are right below…

I will forward your questions to the USDDN Steering Committee in hopes that someone else might add their thoughts to this conversation.

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