Vocabulary of Xs and Os

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 discdogging as throwing to a place, in some cases a very fuzzy place “out there some where-ish…”. Seriously. Where do you throw for your dog?

While placement is important, it’s not everything. Knowing what pattern your dog is running is a vital part of knowing where and when to place it.

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 dogs to run in their chosen direction. When they try 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.

Frisbee tends to be played in a clockwise fashion, Clock, for most players, especially right handers, as a result of toss and fetch. Many dog’s are incapable of even thinking about going around in the other direction. This is unfortunate because the dogs who are not strong on Clock are 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.


When the dog moves from one side of the handler to the other it is a Cross. Lifted directly from agility training concepts, Crosses are based on pressure and team movement. The handler either gives or releases pressure as they give a directional cue for team movement.

Front Cross

The Front Cross is when the dog shifts from working on the handler’s left  to working on the handler’s right when the handler is in front 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 Cross

The Rear Cross is 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 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 contact.

Checkout the Flatwork tag for a ton on crossing.


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-outrun and moving them around out there is working the flank as well.


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!


At Pawsitive Vybe Drop means a cued drop. 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.


The moment the dog is getting ready to jump is called collection. Solid collection is an absolute key for big leaping disc dogs.


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.

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Ron Watson

An accomplished dog trainer, dog sport coach and dog behavior expert, Ron Watson of PVybe spends every minute he can collaborating with dog lovers all over the world. Specializing in canine performance, learning theory and behavior, Ron along with the fabulous Apryl Lea, run real world and online seminars as well as personal training, clinics, and Hangouts. He lives to talk dogs, so go ahead and ask Ron a question via our contact page, Facebook or on Google+.

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