Foundational Positioning

It may sound simple but many people have problems with Luring as a skill

There are several techniques and concepts in this video I’d like to draw your attention to.

Intent: Leading, Following or Helping?

This is a huge problem for some handlers. Luring is most definitely a leading type behavior. The handler literally pulls the dog around with the lure. You can’t pull if you’re not leading. Many dogs balk on following lures because their handlers intent is not clear. Is she trying to help me get the cookie? Is she waiting for me to go steal the cookie from her? Is she teasing me? What’s a dog to do? Freeze. When the handler puts the cookie on the dogs nose and pulls it away with the intent to lead the dog to where the cookie will be, the dog almost always goes after it.

Luring is Like Fishing, Just Set the Hook

Anybody who know’s fishing knows that you have to Set The Hook to land the fish. Effective Luring is just like fishing. The hook must be set properly. Pull to hard and you’ll rip the fishes lip off, pull too soft and they’ll stop biting and start nibbling your bait. Set that hook just right and you land the fish.

Opportunity and Taking Away

We don’t give our dogs cookies, or discs, we give them the opportunity to get discs or cookies. This air of danger, the unpredictable, the rush of opportunity staring you in the face. When we look at reinforcement and the act of working as an opportunity, the game is on.

You’ll notice in the video, that the removal of the cookie above Hops’ head is prompting the sit. That’s a removal of opportunity, he knows when there is no opportunity, he sits and looks at me. We condition that behavior here with unsolicited eye contact which promotes a default sit. Most dogs’ default behavior while looking straight up is sit. We combine the two, remove the opportunity and present the target on our heel and side positions, and the sit magically happens.

When Hops is being lured, you can see by his reaction to the moments when it looks as if the cookie will be getting away from him, that he sees this game as opportunity. When lure is viewed as opportunity, and the chase of that lure produce moments of excitement and opportunity, the dog will happily play a luring game.

Throughout this course, the concept of Opportunity, will be openly discussed, as it is an important concept.


Foundational Positioning is a huge part of the game of disc.  A great limitation in the game of disc is the inability to get your dog into the position required for a particular trick. So the dog can only flip from the front, standing directly in front of the handler. But having mastery over position means that very same flip can now happen to your right or left, right next to the handler, further away, etc. Flips, set up moves, the beginnings of sequences, parlour tricks? All of these things are impacted by the ability of the handler to put the dog in position.

Things don’t always go as planned when your performing a freestyle routing. You will wind up out of position at times. Good Foundational Positioning, Set Up Moves and Flatwork will make this potentially 30 second mistake nearly unnoticeable to spectators and judges alike.

Foundational Positioning creates efficiency and proficiency in training. If you call the position once, and the dog makes it happen instantly, you will spend more time in your training sessions working on disc dog stuff, not fighting to manage a frustrated dog.

Questions and Comments Below…


  1. Sara

    I’m confused. I thought the start date was next week on the 17th, but week 1 lessons was posted today.

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Hey Sara!
      Sorry about the confusion… Consider it an unexpected bonus? 😉

      You are correct that class will be starting on the 17th… but all of the people who signed up before the 10th are given an extra week for us to get the bugs out (conference call… grr…) and to deliver some positive training instruction to help us all get on the same page. Premier and Pro members will get an extra video assessment as well.

      Set Up moves and position are extremely important parts of the game an extra week here will be quite helpful for you guys as students and for me as an instructor. I am

      Make sure you catch the conference call from last night. After some initial technical difficulties it went well.

  2. Nate

    Thanks for letting us start early! What do you recommend are the best cookies?

  3. OlyDiscDogs

    Whew! this is gonna be tough! lol no fair posting videos that make it look so easy! Tried to work on sets of three, the heel, front and side postions, Zodiac is bouning all around tryuing to get the hand w treat, spinning, laying down, offering everyhing but!

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Been there, done that, Cassi! Not much fun, it’s made even harder with a little dog. There is a nice little dog training trick that you can use to make it look magical. Keep in mind that Hops here is very much like Zodiac if he’s not handled properly.

      Rewarding with Action

      Find something that little bugger does well, or just happens to do: 4 feet on the floor, reorienting to you, stopping sniffing, backing away from the cookie, eye contact, etc – something that you would like to add value to that does not conflict with the task at hand – mark it and reinforce with the lure to your sit position.

      If you want to put a halt to silly behaivors, all you have to do is to have a high enough rate of reinforcement on skills you like and the dog can’t do those silly things. I look at this as finding excuses to pay the dog.

      So, find an excuse to pay Zodiac and then pay him with the lure to the position you are working.

      For example:
      Zodiac is going apeshit bouncing around. Wait for all 4 feet to hit the ground, mark it,”Yes!” and reinforce by luring him to heel. When he sits in heel, mark it,”Yes!” and pay him. Pay him 10 more times while he’s sitting. Release him and repeat (the apeshit thing should start to go away).

      You do have to be careful that you are not always reinforcing the landing from a bounce because it is possible that he could wind up believing that the jump leads to the opportunity to work, so you can mix it up with other behaviors to keep him from coming to that conclusion. This should be considered management of the problem, and can be done all over the place with all kinds of other skills. This is what positive training is all about, avoiding problem behaviors and reinforcing desired behaviors, and is something that positive trainers should be good at.

      Got Attention

      There is a skill that you do want the dog to perform all the time while working that you can start to cultivate during these sessions, and that is Attention or unsolicited eye contact.

      Work eye contact and Reward with Action (lure to heel/side/front position) and you will find that you have a dog that stands there and gives you eye contact in order to get the opportunity to work. It’s brilliant.

      Does that make sense?

  4. OlyDiscDogs

    yes I think Thank you! I cant believe I have been playing disc for yrs and never did any of this foundation work! Zodiac is going to be awesome…some day! Ok, we will try tonight, back to basics! 🙂

  5. OlyDiscDogs

    Introducing Zodiac (aka Monkey), a hairless mix breed about 16lbs of all terrier, mind you I am a border collie person! So training a terrier has been well, challenging! Now a year old and showing interest in disc we will start from the beginning and teach it right this time!

    Lesson one:
    Set up Positioning.

    Take one: a nightmare! Could not lure him anywhere! Sun, jumped, laid down, went around, everything to get the treat from my hand! Called it a night! Clearly I wasnt communicating well.

    Take two: MUCH BETTER! Marked for attention, and RAPID FIRE reward in position, AND we only did about ten seconds worth! Success.
    Side note – Working Zarya as well ( 6month Papillon ) worked on hand targeting and following the hand, following the lure, we have worked down so much thats her default and would just lay down and not follow treat, kinda hard to lure into position when the dog wont follow! Again rapid fire and about 15seconds of working. Success!

  6. OlyDiscDogs

    side note, the attention exercise paid off in agility training today, offered it at a “dead” moment, with distractions! Thats a first for this crazy pup! Whoot! Looked right up at me, what we doing next mom?!

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      That’s AWESOME Cassi! That’s how it works. “When I’m bored, or I want something, I look at my handler.” Go Zodiac!

      The trick is to keep it on your terms while playing to his needs in any given situation.

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