Oppositional Feeding – Fixing a Latent Drop
CJ and the Jam-min’ Aussies hung out at the Disc Dog Bed and Breakfast a few weeks ago – all the way from LA… pretty sweet, eh?
We had a fantastic time. What awesome little dogs! One of the things on the agenda was addressing Sydney’s latent Drop on the run. One of the more frustrating issues a freestyle disc dogger can face is an awesome athlete who doesn’t like to drop or habitually drops late. Nothing kills flow like a late or non-existent drop.
Oppositional Feeding for Drop
We like to use Oppositional Feeding with many Drop issues with high drive dogs. In the case of a late Drop or a dog that habitually retrieves, the reward placement of Oppositional Feeding creates a competing interest and gives the dog a reason to be “out there” instead of racing back to the handler.
We also like to use Oppositional Feeding for dogs that are really aggressive and run hard. These dogs tend to pressure their handler, and Sydney & Melbourne definitely put the pressure on CJ.
We start out by using a Prompt Switch. A Prompt Switch is a technique where we change the cue (prompt) for a behavior to something new. Whether it is just creating a new word for your cue, or altering the cue entirely, the Prompt Switch technique is an impressive tool.
For example, you want to change the “Sit” cue to “Broccoli”? How do you do that?
What you do is to say/do the new or weak cue, in this case, “Broccoli.” This new or weak cue is followed by the old or strong cue,”Sit.
More than a few reps of pairing “Broccoli… Sit,” and you should be able to lose the strong or old cue,”Sit,” and just cue,”Broccoli,” and have the dog take the new cue.
In the Oppositional Feeding lesson we’re essentially pairing the Drop cue with the flight of the disc. “Aus”… Disc flies… rinse & repeat. We’re using the thrown disc as a cue (or a signal) here. Seeing as how the flying disc (or the landed disc) is likely to make the drop happen – this is the strong cue.
So we take the weak cue, “Aus” (“Out” “Drop” etc) and follow it immediately by a thrown disc. Once the dog starts to take the cue, you should be able to see it happening, or you have gotten what you think is enough reinforcement you can test or proof your work by shifting to consequent reinforcement of the cued Drop.
Once that frees up a bit we then move to consequent reinforcement where Sydney drops and then the disc is thrown. This is the normal way of doing things,
If you enter into this too early it will most likely fail. It is important to get the Prompt Switch working and well reinforced before going consequent.