Throw with Intent
Any time a disc is delivered to a dog it should be delivered to the correct Spot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A Pedestal is a raised spot. Anything a dog can leap onto and perch upon. Spots and Pedestals are important dog training tools.... at the correct time to make your dog look good. The handler must intend to do that or perfect placement doesn’t happen.
Simply defining a target and intending to deliver it there improve precision and accuracy from both the thrower’s perspective and also from the dog’s perspective. The dog should expect to leap for a well placed target and the handler should intend put it there. Practicing and exercising this makes it more likely to happen.
Out Throws are Glory, not After Thoughts
When an inside sequence finishes (flip, flip, leg vault…) you throw a long one to give yourself some time to pick up discs… Don’t just chuck it out there 30 yards. Don’t fling it away while glancing down to pick up that pile of discs.
Instead, take that moment of release for that out throw and add Intent to it. Be present and aware while deliver that target to a place and time that will ask the dog to leap and look good.
It doesn’t take any more time and really adds a level of professionalism and polish that is hard to fake. Real pros make their dogs look good on out throws.
Out throws should make the highlight reel, not the cutting room floor.
Follow the Throw
When an out throw is made, especially a longer one, go ahead and follow it – like run after it. This will help to use more of the field and will help you and your dog look like a team.
Nothing is more boring than watching a handler standing around while the dog works his or her tail off. Even an aggressive retrieve can be dull and repetitive. Following the throw will help to make you a more active handler.
Following a throw allows the handler to remain close to the dog during an out throw. It can be exciting to see dog and handler pop into action, moving fast at the same time. It also can dramatically impact flow by shortening the time between sequences.
Try making your out throw towards a pile of discs and then follow the throw and pick ’em up. Your dog turns around and you’ve got a bunch of discs in your hand just a few meters away …super cool for disc management and flow…
Carry 3 Discs at All Times
At Pawsitive Vybe the rule is to always have 3 discs in your hand. If you don’t have 3 discs in your hand you should be working hard to get find three discs and get them in that hand.
This becomes difficult with 5 disc formats like Skyhoundz, but it’s still a necessity if you’re going to do any kind of cool sequencing that doesn’t require bending down to grab discs.
A similar rule of thumb for us is to always work towards the biggest pile of discs. It’s an easy way to get three discs in hand.
Cue Early and Clearly
The timing of the verbal and physical cues handlers use to communicate with dogs is huge. The Give is a retrieve to the hand. A cued Give is a foundational skill that is not super useful in the actual performance of disc dog freestyle, and has huge applications for training and skills development . A Give is distinctly different from a Drop because of the localized nature of the skill. Give only happens in the hand,... the verbal cue well before the physical cue.
Give the verbal cue,”Through…” then offer the physical cue of opening the legs and flashing the disc, or whatever it is that the physical cue may be. The key is to give the weak cue first as a heads up then deliver the strong cue to the dog while she’s looking for confirmation of the weak cue.
Timing of cues when the dog is on the run, usually on the retrieve is critical as well. Give the verbal cue two or three strides before you offer the physical cue to her, allowing her to get prepared and be on the look out for the intricacies of the skill. Early, Early, Early! Things happen fast on the run…