Epic Flatwork Session

Warmup

A flip in each direction followed by some well posed or overly dramatic throws, take your pick…

A Pose is a telegraphing of the throw that is read by the dog via body position and a moment of pause or deliberation that resembles the throwing motion and triggers the throwing action. The dog learns the pose and knows which throw is coming. The overhand wrist flip Epic missed was poorly posed and rushed and as a result startled the dog.

Patience = Trot

I’ve got this patience cue working for collection while chasing a disc, which I am now using for “Trot while on a Working Flank”. It’s a pretty amazing skill. I think I will have to change one of the cues, but that is another discussion.

In the video, while we’re on the clockwise Working FlankThe Working Flank is a moving position. On a Working Flank the dog is out to your side some distance and holds position, moving with you as you move around the field. The Working Flank happens on both the clockwise and counter clockwise flank. The clockwise flank is out to the handler’s left with dog and handler oriented in a..., I cue “Patience” and Epic should change his pace to a trot (alternating diagonal legs). It’s really hard with a disc in play. I’m supposed to be treating it as a duration behavior, but am not doing a good job of it. I’m just stoked that I’m getting the behavior still.

The marking (and release 🙁 ) of Patience is backed up and reinforced by the next cue, a Rear CrossOn a Rear Cross, the dog switches Flanks with the behind her. From clock to counter clockwise Flank or vice versa. Taken directly from the canine agility world, the Rear Cross is a foundational flatwork skill for team movement. It allows the handler to move the dog around the field in stylish fashion. On the Rear Cross, your dog will..., perhaps, and a well posed throw. I will be transitioning to my standard “Off” cue in the near future. It will be a good transition into other disc dog duration behaviors for me as a trainer.

There is a physical cue as well, a pulling back of the disc that feels rather natural and seems to trigger the dog backing off, as if it’s not in play yet, like a softer or questioning cue.

“Go” is to resume pace. It’s pretty amazing, and I believe it really does increase the dog’s ability to be patient and do what they’ve been taught and to do that thing which they KNOW works, you know, that thing you taught them before the disc was in the air…?

Throw as a Cookie for Rear Cross

This is a key skill from a dog training, leaping, and performance perspective.

When you get the rear cross, mark it, and throw the cookie where you want your dog to go. Lead the dog to where you want them to be. That’s the performance perspective: throwing a cookie out there makes the dog change their angle.

At 1:12, I just chuck the disc out there after marking the cross. I did this to round out Epic’s rear CrossA Cross is an canine agility term that describes a change of working sides. Your dog moves from your left to your right (Heel to Side) or from Clock to Counter. Crosses are labeled be the relationship of handler to the dog. A Front Cross is a cross with the handler in front of the dog. A Rear Cross has.... He really wanted to whip his ass around and flip to the other direction. It makes for any ugly Rear Cross.

It’s like a car skidding or spinning out. So I get the behavior, mark it, and throw my cookie where I want the dog to be. You can see it challenge his line — Epic skids a bit, and has to adjust to go get that disc. This loosens up dramatically in this session and Epic starts to run some really pretty lines.

You can also use the Rear Cross as a reliable starting point, or set up move for leap training. It’s great to have a remote set up move. Once the dog crosses, mark it, pose, then deliver a well thrown disc. Boom! A planned leaping catch; by the team.

Play Inside for Balance

Epic really likes to run and work the Flank. It is important that I do some inside stuff to balance out the effect of the Reward PlacementThe dog puts his face where the Cookie or the disc happens. Where you put the reward matters. Reward Placement is huge in disc dog freestyle. Your dog’s face will always wind up where you throw the disc. He will go where the disc happens. If a disc in thrown to a place, the dog will return from that place.... of the larger 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.... patterns we were running. Too much of that and the dog will always get sucked out. Balance that with some interior work.

Ideally the interior work, work close to the handler, features some of the same skills you were working in the larger scale play you had.