Eight Ways to Slow Down Your Frisbee Dog
Dogs that run too fast cannot leap well. Odds are if you have a disc dog that doesn’t leap, they are probably running too hard to catch the disc.
If you’re running too fast, you cannot adjust your stride and collect for proper leaping. Even Michael Jordan can’t leap if he’s sprinting as fast as he can.
Slowing down a disc dog’s on field movements is important for safety and performance. It is also important for your dog’s frame of mind as well.
Thoughtful and purposeful work is always better than bonkers.
Here are 8 tips to help you slow down your dog:
The simplest way to slow down your dog and to get them to think about what they are doing is to send them around and just not throw. Many dogs will run a full 40 yards before looking back at the handler. If you withhold the throw a few times (perhaps many – Mo took 30 reps) the dog will go around and stop and look at you. When they do, throw a nice easy catch to the dog; something kind of boring that doesn’t allow them to move too fast.
This same technique can be used after a cued Drop, or after a familiar set up move that leads into the sequence. Just stop and wait a moment. The dog has to pay attention to you.
Speaking of Attention… Attention is unsolicited eye contact in the presence of something the dog wants. It’s an amazing skill for disc dogs to have.
You have the disc, and if they want it they must give you eye contact. Do a set up move and wait for eye contact. When they give it, reinforce your dog with more play or a disc.
This simple skill changes the nature of play for dog and handler.
You can leverage reward placement to your advantage by using Oppositional Feeding and the concept of throwing in the opposite direction the dog is moving. The dog will slow down and this irregular and unpredictable situation combines with with reward placement to make your dog think out there. They slow down.
Be careful to vary your timing and placement and at times don’t throw. It’s easy to exchange a sprint back and for for discs with a groovy circular sprint for discs. Remember that your goal is to slow them down. Don’t be predictable.
The Bent Cavaletti drill that we created here at Pawsitive Vybe was designed to slow dogs down and to help handler’s learn to compute the placement of targets. It’s a stellar exercise for dialing in purposeful and thoughtful approaches to leaping catches. Simply the get out portion of it can be leveraged to slow your dog down.
Around the World
An Around the World (discs thrown @ 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock) thrown with the intent to slow the dog down can be used to limit speed and to help them collect well and make good plans to intercept the disc.
Shape & Capture
Creative and observant dog trainers and handlers can shape the dog into moving slow. Simply capturing of the moments of slower or more thoughtful movements, marking them, and most importantly, rewarding them with the same tone and action you are looking to cultivate out of them – slowly and methodically. A high energy “YES!” and flash of movement for the toss might not be a good idea for capturing and cultivating slower movement.
You can also set up situations and shape the slower movement (we call it Pace here at Pawsitive Vybe). We use the PVR and Around the World quite a bit for shaping and capturing slower movement, but any situation that you can use to help shape the dog into moving slower can be used.
Throw Well Into the Wind
Throwing into the wind makes it more likely that the disc will float. Floating discs move slower and if the handler places them in the appropriate place the dog can’t run too fast or too far.
The handler has so much control over the tone and pace of the game of dog Frisbee. You literally are in charge out there and you can reinforce whatever it is you are looking for. How you go about reinforcing your dog’s behavior largely feeds into the kind of game you develop. If you go out there and totally cut loose, chucking crazy tosses all over, or you find yourself creating and losing moves and sequences on a daily basis, or you’re overwhelmed by your dog or performance pressures, odds are you’ll have a fast dog that is hard to control.
Keep your head about you. It’s not nearly as fast as you think it is. Take your time.