Flips Happen Behind the Dog
Notice that the largest part of the flip zone lies behind the dog. That is very important. The disc must be tossed and caught behind your dog in order to get her to flip. There is a small sliver of ‘flip zone’ in front of the dog, but this asks a dog to move forward on their flips, and not many dogs do that naturally.
There is a flip where the dog travels forward during the flipping trajectory, this is called a A Gainer Flip is a back flip that travels forward. If your dog lands closer to you than they started on your flips then your dog is gainering. Disc dog flips are all variations of a back flip. Dog looks up and back and the feet come up in front of the dog. If the landing point of the Flip..., and may or may not be your dog’s proper flipping technique. But even then you are throwing a disc to a Spot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A Pedestal is a raised spot. Anything a dog can leap onto and perch upon. Spots and Pedestals are important dog training tools.... behind your dog’s head.
Distance from Midline
The distance from the midline will determine how aggressive a flip is. If we place the disc right over the dog’s head (B), we will get a vertical flip (dog’s rear end winds up over top of his head); a loop. If we place it at (C), we will get a spinning movement (rear end stays at about the same height throughout). Placing the disc at (A) will give us a nice mix between the two.
Flips get more vertical the closer you get to the midline.
This is a good starting point from a disc placement perspective. The trajectory of the dog going after this target will be a mix of a vertical flip and a spinning flip. This is where most flips are placed with dogs that are new to flipping.
This placement will yield a very aggressive, vertical flip. It requires a very athletic dog. Because the dog is upside down, it should be very closely monitored and probably not be done by new players without supervision from a more experienced player.
This placement will yield a spinning flip that will Spins and Twists are tricks where the dog spins 360 degrees in a clockwise or counter clockwise fashion. Spin is clockwise and Twist is counter clockwise so it is important to have a cue for each skill. Feel free to call them what you want.... horizontally. This is the place you will wind up if your dog is not very good at flipping, allowing your dog to be aggressive. You can start to slide this in towards A as your dog becomes better at it.
Flips happen behind the dog.
The closer to the midline the more vertical the flip.
Position is extremely important on flips. Try to present a consistent picture to the dog so that these flipping skills become habitual. It’s not just about flipping performance and understanding, muscle memory and a high success rate are important as well.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
Front, Heel and Side
A solid front, heel and side position will allow the dog to flip from each of these static positions successfully. Knowing where the dog is at, and where she will be is necessary to provide the correct placement and angle of the disc required for successful flipping.
Each flip that can be done in front position, in theory, can be done in heel and also in side. This means triple the number of types of flip in a team’s arsenal of tricks.
A ‘Wait’ is a cue given to a dog means, “Waiting on cue and situationally is extremely important for disc dog freestyle training. The competition field might not see too much waiting going on as everything is supposed to be happening in flow, but on the training field there probably is not a more important skill than a Wait. A Wait is critical for flipping and vaulting.... there until it’s time.”
A good wait is a must have tool for both training and competition. There are times when the team needs some time to breathe and there are times that we need to bring the energy level down a notch and do some careful or thoughtful work. A wait is a very important piece of a disc dog foundation.
Nothing is more frustrating, for dog and handler, than having a great jam session destroyed because part of the team couldn’t make a wait happen. Having a solid wait will make training sessions more effiicient, and your jam sessions more flexible.
Putting it Together
If we are good at positioning our dogs and strategically putting our discs in those spots that create and nurture flips, we will have less confusion, more success to build on, and the ability to keep things safe for our dogs.