Disc Dog Flatwork: Oppositional Feeding

Those who have worked with us know what Directional Feeding, Directional Leading and the Pawsitive Vybe Ribbon (PVRThe Pawsitive Vybe Ribbon, PVR for short, is dueling Working Flanks separated by a leaping catch and cued Drop. It is designed to give practical experience with the Working Flank and offers plenty of opportunity for enhancing and improving Flatwork performance. Solid performance of this skill demonstrates competence in Flatwork....) are. You are also probably familiar with how these patterns develop. They build a fast paced game that we harness and drive with our flatwork.

Oppositional Feeding

The other day one of our Disc Dog Foundation grads and a Disc Dog Camp participant asked a question about Xs and Os on Facebook. It brought out this concept of Oppositional FeedingOppositional Feeding is the opposite of Directional Feeding. The handler throws a disc in the opposite direction that the dog is moving. Oppositional Feeding is a flatwork and training technique used to slow dogs down and make them think and also to build distance on the cued Drop. Oppositional Feeding is primarily used on dogs with too much drive that....

Oppositional Feeding is a technique that I have been using for some time now to slow my dogs down a bit and get them to settle in and work away from me but I could not figure out how it fit within our FlatworkFlatwork is the stuff that happens between the catches. How the team moves and transitions, often without the disc, is flatwork. Flatwork concepts in disc dog are taken from the agility and herding world.... Foundation.

And then it hit me:
Oppositional Feeding is the exact opposite of Directional FeedingDirectional Feeding is the underlying essence of disc dog freestyle. As a concept, it consists of reading the dog’s line and delivering a well placed disc that elicits a leap where she is going to be. Directional Feeding is an important drill and skill for all disc dogs and handlers. It teaches the handler how to read a dog and.... Instead of throwing the disc to a spotSpot 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.... on the dog’s chosen line, where your dog is going to be, you throw it to where your dog used to be, or from whence he came.

Disc Dog Flatwork-Oppositional Feeding

The dog goes where the Reward Happens so placing the reward further away from the handler, in the opposite direction that the dog is running, should get her to stay further away. It will also reduce the value on the handler and should slow down that bullet train retrieve.

Practical Application

Of course she probably is not going to catch the first few tosses popped out behind her, but that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The missed opportunity of making a catch forces the dog to alter her behavior, in this case she will slow down and pay attention to where the disc will be thrown.

The first time it happens, your dog is going to stop and look at you, “Dude! WTF? I’m going this way…” FreeshapeFreeshaping is allowing the dog to lead the training session and shaping that behavioral leadership into some kind of trick, skill, or behavior. Shaping and Freeshaping are sometimes considered synonymous, but at Pawsitive Vybe we distinguish Shaping from Freeshaping. Shaping is going to have some handler action or handler leadership - you will do something to make the skill happen..., or send the dog out to fetch the missed disc,”Um… dude, it’s right over there.”

The dog will grab the disc and will start hustling back. Cue the Drop, mark it and reinforce with another throw to where the dog used to be. This will probably draw another confused stare. Just ignore it and repeat. After a few reps, the dog will slow down that retrieve, or even stop and wait some distance away from you. You can mark this if you want or not, no biggie, but make sure to reinforce it well.

Pretty simple, right? GiveThe 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,... it a shot.

Got questions? Comments?

Let me know what you think in comments below.


  1. glennSKii


    Cool stuff.

    Here is another type of feeding that you all might call, for example, “Extreme Directional Feeding” or maybe “Fast-Paced Directional Feeding”. I call it the “Flyby”. When your dog recognizes the tell-tail signs of a Flyby cue, they can result in impressive displays of speed — especially when you try to get the lowest and fastest throw you can that your dog still has a chance to catch (i.e. catch up to in time).

    Here is a static camera film of a Flyby:

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Nice Vid, Glenn.

      That is pretty much directional feeding, although it’s a singular expression of it. Love the music and the cinematography.

  2. glennSKii

    Yes. I wrote “directional feeding” — I just adding adjectives in front of it. 😉
    And yes, singular… due to the speed involved.. (Also for the sake of ease in filming and for the sake of clarity — to show the Flyby separate from other actions.)

    The music is one of my songs from an album i put out in Poland in 2000. The slow mo was filmed with a Casio camera that has a slow-mo option.

  3. Lindsay Best

    I like this idea to slow Ember down in a routine and get her thinking a bit more. Do you think this would at all affect all the work we have put into having her bring the disc back and wait for the drop cue? She has gotten really good at holding onto the disc and I don’t want her to start dropping again too early or not bringing the disc all the way back. Well, I will let you know when I give it a try, hopefully later today.

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      If you make the throw after the cued drop has happened it should not matter.

      Remember you want her to hold the disc just until she hears the drop cue.

      Good luck. I was working it today with Hops. It was a good session.

Comments are closed.