Ballwork – Disc Dog Vault Discrimination

Delivering a conceptual understanding of vaulting is absolutely essential for reliable performance of the vaulting skill.

You can either teach these skills as root concepts or let disc placement and experience, the context of the tricks or sequences, teach the skills. Both will work, and they work very well in concert, but your dog’s safety and your sanity is better served by teaching the root concepts.

Vaulting Concepts

We want to teach the Vault at the conceptual level. The dog should learn that there are linear vaults, there are reverse or flipping vaults, and then should understand that Stall means to stand up there.

Root Concepts of the Vaulting Behavior (with verbal cue)

  1. Stall (Stall) – jump on the obstacle and wait
  2. Linear Vault (Top) – vault from the obstacle in a line
  3. Reverse Vault (Rebound) – flip off of an obstacle

Let the Dog In on the Plan

Teaching these basic concepts and having them under verbal discrimination means that you can tell your dog what is going to happen and they will be prepared for the kind of vault you are going to do before anything happens. Your dog will make her first move with the intent to execute the plan.

This conceptual and verbal discrimination is key to teaching and executing the vaulting skill safely and to creating new and innovative vaults with a moving handler or from unconventional positions.

These are the root concepts of the vaulting behavior. Knowing how to perform each skill and being able to perform them on cue will greatly increase our ability to rapidly teach and successfully execute vaults and will allow dog and handler to approach the skill as a team. The handler can tell the dog how to set up and perform the skill and the dog will understand how to execute. The rest is just reward placement.

Check out Vault Discrimination using a Barrel


  1. Marion Paulson

    Hey Ron,

    Love the classes so far and know that when I get things together I will show I got something from these classes!!

    I have a couple comments regarding Stalls/Vaults/Rebounds.

    First I learned the way to do them by watching the video that was shot with you using a barrel! That was one of the most clear cut videos I have ever watched and really helped me a ton.

    Okay so I have Petals who when I started teaching vaults (and still trying to teach) was about 4.5 years when we began. I used to let her jump all over me as a pup then one day I moved in with my man when she was about 2. I realized she was jumping on everyone and trained the no jumping thing and man did it stop her… But then guess what? yup I have a heck of a time traing anythinig that involves body contact like jumping on or at…See I really trained the off well 🙁 .. I am going to go back to basics on her and get the barrel out come spring and work it from start and move slow through it..How ever if you have some suggestions on what I can do indos in small crapped areas (my living roon *L*) then I can work on things over winter. I have a few other issue with her vault and so on but not going to worry about them until I retrain the whole set of foundation moves stall/top/rebound.

    Okay so Rayne is very different. I decided from scratch to let her jump all over me from puppy hood and only made her back off other people in a social way. So she will rebound, back vault and stall easy. We still have a ton of issues like timing style and so on which we will work on with you.

    I wanted to bring this up because I am sure there are people here who because of my same issues may end up struggling with their dogs if they have taught them the off…Petals still doesn’t get that yes it’s 100% okay to nail me when I ask *laugh*..But we will get through it. She may never do the crazy high vaults I will be able to get from Rayne but we should be able to work a vault and so on that can make her and I happy.


  2. Marion Paulson

    Oops meant that if you have suggestions that I can do indoors on a small carpeted area..Not crapped area hahaha..

  3. Kirby

    Interesting point about body contact and dogs. My former dog (very reactive, scared of people mudi) was all over me. I encouraged a lot of contact and used that contact to help him feel more comfortable in situations where he was not comfortable. He literally had four people in the world (outside of me) who he was interested and ok with greeting. I never even realized I had a “dog jumping on people problem” until he was in the context of those four people. For him, I never trained it out because it just wasnt a big part of his life. Outside of those four people and myself, he had zero interest in being within 25 feet of (let alone touch), so a non issue. Fast forward to my new girlie (14 month old rescue BC) and she is super social and friendly with people. She uses a lot of body contact with me, AND with other people. I quickly realized that other people don’t have the same tolerance I do for dogs and body contact (duh!) I had just recently begun to more seriously train it out of her… but reading the post above, I am re-thinking how to create a better balance. Manage it for social situations, but don’t totally train it out of her for contact with me…

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      Just get it on cue and don’t think too much more about it.

      It’s only a problem if you use really heavy coercion or intimidation to halt the jumping on others.

  4. Kirby

    Ok just watched the video and read the post again. I am doing some Susan Salo stuff/set point work for Cricket’s agility foundation. As you noted, for agility, I really want a rock back on the rear, load the hind end, propel up and over like a dolphin and land with head low and down. I have been mixing in some Linda Mecklenberg stuff to supplement as well. I am doing a lot of reinforcing for that head low position on the landing. If I start changing criteria for her to do disc related leaping, am I going to screw up the agility foundation that I have started? How do I separate them, so that in the face of no other information but a jump, you (Cricket) jump with head low. If reinforcer is set above and ahead of you, then you can change your body position and leap….

    1. Ron Watson Post author

      That sounds about right.

      Agility dogs don’t hold the rest of their technique together when playing disc, why should disc dogs keep their technique together in agility?

      I think it will be easily discriminated.

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