Flatwork Introduction with Loot

Loot is a 15 month old Border Collie rescue out of Vermont. He’s a great guy – gets along with all the dogs, has a tremendous bite, is social with kids and adults, the guy’s just money. He’s not quite put together for athletics yet, coming out of one of those awkward development stages that young dogs do, we have to be careful about running him too big or too fast. He’s just not ready. You can see it in the video and you can see me struggle with trying to put the disc in a safe, yet leap inducing spot.

Pawsitive Vybe Ribbon

We start out with a little Pawsitive Vybe Ribbon (PVR) warm up. The PVR is alternating clockwise and counter clockwise team movement. The handler sets the dog on the flank (out to the side) and then pulls the dog around using flatwork before delivering another throw (check out the PVR lesson). It’s a great foundational 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.... skill and does a fine job of warming your dog up.

Something that is illustrated here quite well in the video is the Consequent CueA cue that is given as a consequence for correct behavior is a Consequent Cue. In the game of disc dog freestyle, the consequent cue is extremely important. Dogs are reinforced by opportunity, and there is not much greater opportunity in the game of disc than more play (Next). If you offer your cue before your dog has complied with.... Notice that the physical cue for the Flatwork hook up happens, in consequent fashion, right after the drop. The sharp popping of the disc is a physical cue that ideally triggers prey drive,  and it is offered as a consequence to reinforce dropping the disc on cue. So the cue to come hook up on the Flank is, essentially, a cookie. Compliance with the Drop cue = Opportunity. 

If you offer the cue to hook up before compliance on the Drop cue, you are setting up a situation where opportunity has been presented before the behavior has been offered, and it is likely that you will have problems learning the skill or performing the skill when the pressure is on.

Rear Cross

Loot does a fine job taking the 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... cue on the first attempt. It’s a bit overzealous – a 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... should not have the attributes of a flip, but he’s just acting reflexively. He’ll settle in nicely.

You can see from the video that Loot has a bias on the Rear Cross in the counter clockwise direction by his reluctance to respond to the Rear Cross cue when moving from my right to left – clockwise. This is pretty common and has many causes, from the dog’s natural right or left ‘handedness’, the handler’s natural right or left handedness, the early learning and performance patterns of the game, or some kind of physical issue, just to name a few…

One of the weak side failures (and perhaps all of them) were due to handler error. I gave the cue too late… You know which one I’m talking about? Drop a comment below…

Rear Cross to Hoop

So Loot hasn’t really done an over with the handler standing yet, at least not with us, and this was his first shot.

With a nice Round Border Collie like Loot, it’s often hard to get an Over set up properly (or any kind of linear move towards the handler). The dogs tend to drift around the handler. It can be very frustrating, and is a big reason for many people feeling as if they have to train the O out of the Dog. You don’t need to take away that beautiful outrun… you need to add a Rear Cross.

Notice that when Loot executes the Rear Cross by peeling off and turning away from his handler, that it sets up a direct linear approach for an 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.... or a Pass. It’s like money. You do have to be careful that you don’t always finish the Rear Cross with the dog rocketing towards the handler. If that happens, your Rear Cross will become more like a simple spinSpins and Twists are tricks where the dog spins 360 degrees in a clockwise or counter clockwise fashion. Spin is clockwise and Twist is counter clockwise so it is important to have a cue for each skill. Feel free to call them what you want.... or a twistSpins and Twists are tricks where the dog spins 360 degrees in a clockwise or counter clockwise fashion. Spin is clockwise and Twist is counter clockwise so it is important to have a cue for each skill. Feel free to call them what you want...., which is defined by 360 degrees of spinning. The Rear cross is not going to ever go a full 360 degrees.

The hoop will start to become more hoop-like after Loot has had some more foundational jump training.