Vocabulary of Xs and Os

Throughout this series there will be some strange and empowering vocabulary. It’s not easy to think about stuff without words sometimes. Here are some common terms that we will be using in Xs and Os Revisited.

Arcs and Lines

So often we think of disc placement as throwing to a place, a very fuzzy place “out there some where-ish…”. Seriously. Where do you throw for your dog?

While the ability to throw a disc precisely is important, it’s not everything. Knowing what pattern the dog is running — where 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,... is going to be — is a vital part of knowing where and when to place the disc.

When talking about Xs and Os we’re talking about Lines & Arcs. The dog is “on that line” or has “struck that arc”. Simple, right?

Clock and Counter

Dogs tend to be clockwise or counter-clockwise dominant. It’s kind of like being left or right handed. It is easy for a dog to run in her chosen direction. When she tries to run in the off direction, the other way, it’s much harder. Patterns break down and the dog won’t hold the line or the arc.

Freestyle tends to be played in a clockwise fashion, Clock, for most players, especially right handers, as a result of a strong toss and fetch influence. Many dogs are incapable of even thinking about going aroundAn Around, or a Go Around is the traditional disc dog set up move. The dog goes around the handler’s body in a clockwise or counter clockwise fashion allowing dog and handler to develop a sense of timing and team movement. Arounds usually start in front of the handler and have the dog circling close to the handler’s heels.... in the other direction. This is unfortunate because a dog that is not strong on clock is being run in the wrong direction. It’s like playing ball left handed. Once you start to work both directions it will be clear whether your dog prefers Clock or Counter patterns.

Crosses

When the dog moves from one side of the handler to the other it is a 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... . Lifted directly from agility training concepts, Crosses are based on pressurePressure comes in many forms in dog training. Positional Pressure, Performance Pressure, Environmental Pressure, the Plane of the handler’s body. Pressure is a fact. How you wield it or leverage it is up to you. Dogs tend to avoid Pressure and tend to hang out in areas where the Pressure is lower and can be pulled into areas or situations... and 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.... and create efficient and creative team movementTeam Movement is how dog and handler move, as a team, out there on the field. It is a judging category in some organizations and certainly is a focus of many judges, players, and fans, when assessing the performance of a freestyle routine. Is movement synchronized? Is it cooperative?Do dog and handler move well together? Are they moving together at... . The handler either adds or releases pressure while giving a directional cue that changes the Working Flank and moves the dog around the field.

Front CrossOn a Front Cross, your dog switches Flanks in with you in front of them. From Clock to Counter Clockwise Flank or vice versa. Taken directly from the canine agility world, the Front Cross is a foundational Flatwork skill for team movement. It allows you to move your dog around the field in stylish fashion. On the Front Cross, your...

Front Cr happens when the dog shifts from working on the handler’s left to working on the handler’s right with the handler in 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... of the dog. Another way to think of a Front Cross is that the dog turns towards the handler in order to switch the working side.

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...

The  happens when the dog changes the working side while the handler is behind the dog as the dog is on their Line or Arc. It can also be understood as the dog switching working sides by turning away from the handler.

Blind CrossA Blind Cross is a change of working sides behind the handler or without a visual connection. An Around is a variation of a Blind Cross....

A Go-Around is a Blind Cross. It is blind because the handler can’t see it and/or the dog and handler lose eye contactUnsolicited eye contact or Attention is a great way to hook up with a dog. If you have something the dog wants he should give eye contact in order to get access to it. This quickly becomes akin to asking permission for things that the dog wants. If your dog offers Attention when they see something they want, most dog... .

Checkout the Flatwork tag for a ton on crossing.

Flank

The Flank is out there, to the side – left or right. Essentially Heel or side position at a distance, typically dog and handler move and work together while on the Flank.

Set the Flank

We talk about Setting the Flank a lot in our classes, camps and seminars. It’s a super important skill. It is, in essence, getting the dog out to your side left or right, so that you can work and move together as a team.

Working the Flank

Working the Flank is when dog and handler maintain the flank and work and move together. An Around the World is Working the Flank. A well executed Zig Zag might be working the flank. Hooking up with the dog mid-outrunAn Outrun is a term taken from the herding world and describes a pattern where a dog takes a rounded path to a distant target. Some dogs have a natural Outrun, Border Collies and herding breeds in particular, but all dogs can be taught the skill. Dogs often have an unbalanced Outrun. One of the directions, clock or counter may... and moving them around out there is working the flank as well.

Release

Just like in most sports, the term Release is used liberally. Disengagement from the handler or from the disc is a Release. The dog looking back to the handler from a distraction is “releasing the distraction”. When the dog leaves the handler, the arc or line that they strike can be called a release. Different types of frisbee throws are different “releases”. The moment you let go of the disc is the Release. I’m sure I could find a few more. The release, as a concept usually involves letting go or moving away. Good luck!

Drop

At Pawsitive Vybe Drop means 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... . We will talk about dropping the disc, and other things, but for the most part, Drop = “I call the cue, you drop.”

Bite (on the handler)

The dog aggressively bites the disc in the dog’s hand. It should be reinforcing and add value on the handler.

Collection

The moment a dog is getting ready to jump is called Collection. Solid collection is an absolute key for big leaping disc dogs. We use collection a bit more crudely than agility people and proper horse people. Collection can be broken down into many pieces, just like any other behavior.

PaceWhen working the flank, a dog often goes from running very hard to a more easy going pace. She adjusts her pace to match you or to read the situation. We call this momentary change in gait Pace. Pace is a great behavior to mark and reinforce, as it is thoughtful, methodical, cooperative movement. Pace is a sign of teamwork...

When we talk about Pace, as a concept, it means the moment that the dog slows to read the situation instead of running hard and trying to race the handler.