Prompt Switching with a Flying Disc
A prompt switch can be used with a thrown disc as the strong cue for the drop. Many dogs drop quite readily when there is another disc in the air. It’s a natural cue. It’s also a pretty sweet opportunity for disc dogs. This can be used to your advantage, but it’s a little counterintuitive.
Cue,”Drop,” and then make the throw. They don’t happen at exactly the same time, the verbal comes first (weak cue) and then the throw (strong cue). It doesn’t matter that the dog hasn’t dropped yet. You simply pair the weak and strong cue together so the dog starts to recognize and listen for the new cue.
This is actually Classical Conditioning. The cues are simply being paired. Reinforcement is happening regardless of behavior.
Any time you hear “regardless of the behavior” or “pairing” it means classical conditioning, and behavior is either not germane to the situation or is a byproduct of the exercise.
So here’s how it works.
Then Go Consequent
Establish a solid history of pairing the cues and marking the behavior performed then wait for the drop before throwing. This makes the reinforcement consequent upon the cued drop being performed.
It might take a few moments for the dog to make the decision to drop the disc solely on the new verbal cue, but it should happen. When it does, mark it and make a toss.
If the dog takes more than a second or so to honor the Drop cue, go back and get classical. Go back to pairing the cues and reinforcing with the toss.