Any place out to your left or right side, further than Heel or Side position, that area is your Flank. When your dog is out there to your side a ways and you are working and moving together, that is what we call Working the Flank. It means you and your dog are hooked up and are performing team movement. There is no individual pursuit, it’s not just a dog chasing the frisbee, or the dog running to a spot that the catch is supposed to happen, when you’re Working the Flank, you become a team, actively working and moving together.
A lot of times I look at a Frisbee dog routine and think about it’s maturity. It was nice, stylish, entertaining, but it was somehow lacking. It’s often hard to put that into words, and something we’ve come up with here at Pawsitive Vybe is maturity. A mature game demonstrates mastery and understanding of the game, the dog and the disc. An immature game does not demonstrate mastery, perhaps has a flaw in the understanding of the game, or has issues working with the dog or the disc.
Here are six things to look for when assessing a routine’s maturity:
Controlled Performance at 7-15 Yards
I’m not impressed by a 35 yard overhand wrist flip that the dog runs like heck after to catch. What impresses me is a 9 yard overhand wrist flip that floats out there at perfect leaping height and a dog that seamlessly adjusts stride, pops up and snatches it – like it was a plan.
Here are nine things that noobs do that everyone should be aware of so they can avoid doing them and get bigger and better scores on the competition field. Any one of these issues can and will cost you more than a few points in a contest:
The best way to lose 4 points a round in Freestyle is to bend at the waist and knees while you are playing with your dog. It’s hard to look cool while you’re bending down
This puppy playing position is a hallmark of new players and people who are not confident athletes, although confident athletes are often caught up in this as well. It’s a defensive, cautious, and weak position that makes it near impossible to project an air of experience and competence.
As soon as you present this position the judges will be likely to lowball your skill level and might mistake your skill and intent for luck and happenstance. It also looks pretty bad to boot. Don’t do it!
stand up tall, lean back, and look cool… like Fonzie.
Any time you deliver a disc to your dog you should be intending to deliver it to the correct spot at the correct time to make your dog look good. That’s your intent.
Simply defining a target with placement and timing criteria improve precision and accuracy from both the thrower’s perspective and also from the dog’s perspective. The dog should expect to leap for a well placed target and the handler should intend put it there. Practicing and exercising this makes it more likely to happen.
A vault is nothing more than isolation of and manipulation of collection. Handlers who have dogs that vault BIG but leap small from the ground have a training problem, not a dog problem.
Odds are that this training problem is the result of pattern training. Many teams start playing with pattern trained behavior chains that are bad for leaping on the run from the ground. Go around and run like heck chasing the target. They do this for a couple of months or years and then the handler says,”My Dog just doesn’t jump, :-( ” and then move on to other, more fun and productive areas of the game, like set up moves, flipping, and vaulting.
The dog then winds up being good at all of the rest of the skills in the game, but not that leaping part, after all, ”He’s just not a leaper…”
I’m having a little trouble with Groovy doing the pvr to my left (leading her with the disc in the right hand). I’ve tried expanding the pvr and throwing early in the direction I want her to head but she still goes around me the other direction. I think this is partly due to her non-stop desire to go around me in a clockwise direction. Please take a look at this vid and let me know what I’m doing wrong. I’m sure I’m sending mixed messages to Groovy or something. Thanks.
Cavalettis have been used to adjust horses strides for a long time. They can be used very deliberately and at low speed and can be used at higher speeds as well. The Bent Cavaletti drill is about forcing collection and creating an angle for an interception which are two keys for big leaping.
This is a very simple drill that you can use to further hone your precision and accuracy. All you need is a wall that has a pole somewhere on it – baseball fields, a privacy fence, any barrier that has a vertical pole that creates a little nook that you can float your disc into will work.
We’ve been working really hard here at PVybe HQ on our distance learning program. Earlier this summer Google+ came out and really changed our game with their group video chat application, Google Hangouts.
We are now doing live group video chats with our Disc Dog Foundation classes and we have put together a Personalized Training program that we’ll be rolling out with great fanfare over the next month or so.
Our Bitework for Behavior class is coming back next week and I’m extremely excited to get on with it. We have been holding off for a while hoping to get more people involved, as the class requires a good deal of participation from the members, but our recent Disc Dog Foundation group video chats make it much easier to teach this online. We’re really stoked. Enrollment is still open for class. Get signed up!
These video chats are pretty unreal in terms of their value for distance learning. We can, as a group, watch Youtube videos and share instruction and observations in real time. We can train dogs on camera and get immediate advice and feedback. It’s pretty much just like a live class minus the distractions.
Here’s a sample from this week’s Disc Dog Foundation European Video Chat. Special thanks to Judy Curran for the camera work…
Kiva is just an animal on the retrieve. He runs in faster than he goes out and swarms Apryl. Many dogs and handlers have this problem. This constant pressure can be hard to handle and it makes comfortable disc play nearly impossible. Oppositional Feeding is a great tool for slowing dogs down and reducing their speed on retrieve.
Just wanted to give you guys a heads up on the Group Video Chat for class tonight. In addition to Video Assessments, Pro and Premier members of Disc Dog Foundation class get access to our Group Video Chats on Wednesday nights at 9PM ET. They are super awesome learning experiences that really allow us to get to know eachother a bit.
We do these group chats on Google+. There is a Hangout feature that allows up to 10 people to video chat in real time.
This is the third and last installment of our Improving Toss and Fetch Retrieve Series. This content will be covered completely in video, images and text in our next Disc Dog Foundation online distance learning class which starts Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011. It will also be added to the first update of the DiscDogger’s Toolkit.
Reward Placement and Field Pressure in Toss and Fetch
If you are playing by the rules of Toss and Fetch, the field only goes away from the handler in one direction. It’s a law of Toss and Fetch, actually. The throwing line defines the direction we’re going to play. If you play the game of Toss and Fetch you can easily see that the cool part for the dog takes place only while moving away from the handler. There is nothing to look forward to on the way back from the handler after the challenge and glory of catching the disc. Frequently this becomes foundational understanding of the dog for long throws. This let down factor is a large part of the problem with most dogs who have less than a smoking retrieve in the game of Toss and Fetch.
The structure of the field itself also works against teams when playing a traditional game of Toss and Fetch. The throwing line is the edge of the field, and as the edge of the field, it exerts Pressure upon the dog. That Pressure slows dogs down if it is not overpowered by the value on the handler.
There is a simple way for us to change this understanding and to relieve that pressure. All we have to do is flip the field on every other throw. This will take the Reward Placement – way out there!!! – of the game of Toss and Fetch and use it to our advantage.
Flipping the Field
Flipping the field means that your’re going to play in both directions. Instead of putting yourself at one end of the field and throwing only in one direction, you will place yourself in the center of the field and throw in both directions. This can be done with multiple discs, or single discs.
Drop and Fly
Two discs can be used, not unlike our Bitework for Retrieve as covered in the last installment of this series. The handler takes two discs and throws long. The Drop is cued as the dog is returning. The Drop is marked,”Yes!” and is then reinforced with a long throw in the opposite direction of the first throw.
This throw can be made immediately after the marked Drop, slightly after or may be timed to the dog’s movement
If the throw happens immediately after the drop it will be very challenging for the dog to make the catch. It will force the dog to run hard after the target. It will also strongly reinforce the Drop on the run. It probably does the most for improving retrieve speed, but be careful with this. If the target is always uncatchable the dog may start to slow down because there is no opportunity there. This could really damage a dog’s drive for long catches. It also could create a pattern of missing discs that could teach the dog that the catch is not an important part of the game.
If you wait a bit before throwing you can give your dog a better chance of making the catch and it may or may not reinforce the Drop well. It is great for most dogs that are not total disc monsters. It allows you to deliver discs that are successfully caught. It will totally help the dog’s retrieve speed.
Timing the throw to your dogs movement will yield the least speed increase and should really only be used on lower drive dogs and dogs that need a lot of help going after long throws for a limited time. This is essentially waiting on the dog and will not do as good a job of building speed. It also could promote a dependence on the presentation of the next disc for speed.
Double Disc Retrieve
If you wait for the dog to get to you and then ask for the Drop you can work on a full blown retrieve. This can build a retrieve so blazingly fast, it’s ridiculous. Think about it. Your dog comes running back with the disc, you call the drop shortly before he arrives, say 3 yards away. Dog drops, and you immediately throw behind you in the other direction. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the end result. The dog will come hauling back, drop when asked and continue running for the catch. It’s not hard to turn that into a fluid drop and go around after you’ve got the haulin’ butt back to the handler part down.
Single Disc Retrieve
Once you’ve got the Double Disc Retrieve down, or whenever you want, you can wait for the retrieve, call the Drop when the dog arrives, bend down and pick it up and throw it in the opposite direction. This, very closely, represents a game of Toss and Fetch and generalizes the previous drills into a normal game of toss and fetch. Think back to what the Double Disc Retrieve looks like once it’s a fluid drop and go round.
Rewarding with Action and the Consequent Cue
It is very important that the performance of the skill we are looking for, the Drop, happens before the next disc is presented for throwing. The Drop needs to make the next throw happen and the dog needs to believe that. Once the Dog believes that the cued Drop makes things happen they will carry the disc until they hear the Drop cue, no questions asked.
Also, once you start the Double or Single Disc Retrieve with the Drop and fluid Go Around instead of the throw behind you, the Drop will lead to the opportunity to run out and make another catch. Imagine a world where the Drop happens on cue…
All of these drills can and should be randomized. The place where the disc is dropped needs to be randomized as well. Don’t get too stuck in any one mode for too long or you’ll create unintended patterns. Your dog can learn patterns that you probably don’t want to have to unlearn for them.
Don’t forget to work with a single disc at times and to work some regular old Toss and Fetch, and if you’re one of those real anal types, go ahead and paint the field and get your timer out every once in a while. Just make sure you get value on the handler and get some reward placement on the flip side of the field and you’ll be OK.
A few Days ago I wrote about Improving a Toss and Fetch Retrieve and said that I’d share two techniques that we use here at Pawsitive Vybe to increase our Retrieve speed in our dogs. Here’s is the first technique, Bitework.