Fixing a Late Drop with a Give

Drop is Not 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 is important to have a distinction between Drop and Give, not just in disc dog freestyle, but in dog training in general.

Many people don’t see the need to distinguish between Drop and Give. “Why bother? The dogThe Dog is a player archetype defined by The Dog. There are always a few canine athletes that really separate themselves from the pack. Many great disc dog teams have relied a great deal on The Dog, and many people build an entire style around that unique, once in a lifetime athlete. Any player archetype who executes should, in theory,... drops it all the same…” But it doesn’t go down like that. Drop means to drop it to the ground – wherever the dog may be. Drop is teeth off without regard to position or localeGive is a highly localized skill that only happens on the handler, and into the handler’s hand, period. While their is a Drop component to a Give, Give is very different from Drop.

Hops as Crash Test Dummy

Some of you may know that I have had some serious trouble obtaining a Drop on cue while playing Frisbee with Hops for a long time now. He fully believes that all Drops need to happen on the handler.
He has easily sidestepped all of my training tricks. OverAn Over is any leaping catch that happens over top of the handler’s body. Overs are usually named by the part of the body over which the dog flies, i.e - Leg Over, or the position you are in while doing the Over - Seated Over, Spinning Over, etc. Overs should be taught before Vaults.... the last 4 months or so we’ve been working with 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.... with Oppositional Feeding using a prompt switchA Prompt Switch is a technique for changing the cue or signal for a behavior. The new/weak cue is given, verbally or physically followed immediately by the old/strong cue. Then the behavior happens. This sequence is repeated many times and then offer the new/weak cue and the behavior will happen. This technique is helpful when you identify an unintentional signal... . It’s been pretty successful. We’ve been able to link some sequences together and do some flowing stuff, but it’s still not quite right, it doesn’t seem to hold.
I’m all about trying to communicate concepts and using oppositional behaviors and back-chaining to get what I want out of my dogs. I know that Give and Drop are different and I have worked both skills a ton with Hops, but until a couple days ago, I had not played them off of each other. I was afraid to work the Give because I thought it would reinforce the drop location,”He already drops there. He always drops there… He only drops there.”

Don’t Be Afraid

I think many of us wind up getting scared about this kind of thing. “I don’t want to practice and reinforce there. Reward placement is important!” It is important, but it’s not everything. None of the major principles of positive dog training is everything. Alternating between Drop and Give provide a strong contrast between the location of the Give and the lack of location on the Drop. I believe this distinction has helped Hops immensely in just the last 2 sessions. It’s also helped us a ton as a team.

Give It a Shot

Set up the Drop several times when and how it is likely to happen. Hops drops well on the flank and not so well when approaching from the frontFront is a stable position directly in front of the handler. Front is an traditional obedience skill. Usually your dog sits in this position, but standing is often acceptable as well, especially in the game of disc dog freestyle. It is important to have a stable Front position for training and performing many disc dog tricks. Your Front position should... . This is a common problem with dogs who are highly focused on the Fetch part of Frisbee. Be sure to set up situations where it’s likely that your dog will drop and then get that ball rolling.
After a few successful reps of Drop then you set up the Give, on purpose, by just withholding the Drop cue. The dog will come in and put it right in your hand. Offer the Give cue and reinforce with a bite, flip or rollerThe Roller is a great throw for reinforcing a dog with a disc. Instead of flying through the air like a wing, the Roller rolls on the ground like a wheel; a fast, bouncy, super exciting wheel. Dogs really like Rollers as reinforcement. Rollers  make great cookies. Rollers are also great teaching tools for the catch. They stand up and... . Maybe one or 2 reps on Give then 5-10 Drops.
This rather quickly sets up a clear distinction between Drop and Give. Drop winds up well reinforced as does the Give. Drop happens anywhere and Give happens on the handler.  Compliance with each cue is what allows the game to continue, wherever it may be. Working the Give allows you to capitalize on, and leverage, a likely behavior. It also doubles the rate of reinforcement.
Things to keep in mind:

[icon_list style=”font-size:24px; color:#ffba00; margin-bottom:0;”] [icon_list_item type=”adjust”]Drop and Give are different behaviors[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”arrow-circle-right”]Reinforce with NextNext is an important feature in a fast paced game. Everything hinges upon Next. If you like the game, then Next is important to you. When a dog loves to play disc Next, the next trick, opportunity, or movement, is  a great motivator. Next can be a Cookie. Next can be offered consequently, as positive reinforcement for good behavior, and... and not just a disc.[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”bullseye”]The dog puts his face where the reinforcement happens.[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”exclamation-circle”]Success is contagious.[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”magic”]Reinforce a cued DropA cued Drop, or Drop for short, means that you tell your dog when to drop, purposefully, and upon your discretion. A cued Drop is a must in the game of disc in order to maximize training opportunities, create a flexible game and controlled game, and for Disc Management. It also becomes a Secondary Reinforcer. The Drop is different from... with a Bite to backchain Give.[/icon_list_item] [/icon_list]