Stimulus control over the bite is extremely important for both safety
and performance. If a dog bites the disc when when asked, and only when asked, wherever that disc may be, then catching is not a problem. The dog uses the player´s body as a launching pad to jump for a disc. A Vault is a leaping catch from the handler’s body. The dog leaves the ground for the target and uses the handler’s body to get there. There are many different styles and variations of vaults, but they are commonly described by the part of the..., flip, and over can be taught with much greater safety and precision if a dog bites discs on cue.
For the most part, a cued bite happens on the disc while it is in the handler’s hand. Offer it with a verbal and physical cue that triggers prey drive and the dog bites, or takes it.
It is extremely important that the bite is under cue control. Not having cue control over the bite behavior is just asking for trouble. Proper bitework and rewarding with plastic will lead to a dog that only bites a disc in the hand when cued.
Redundant Bite Cue
We offer a redundant physical and verbal cue to tell the dog when to bite. A sharp pop of the disc out to the side or otherwise in front of and sharply away from her face with the rim available for a good solid bite is the physical part of the cue.
The verbal cue is whatever you want to call it. At PVybe we use a sound, and not a word,”Tchk!” It’s like chick without the vowel.
We actually pair the verbal and physical cue, probably the only place we do that in our training. We do it largely because the speed and intensity of the game make it very hard to spit out verbal and physical sequential cues while marking behaviors and doing dog training stuff. It doesn’t seem to affect the dogs too much.
If you have problems, it might be a good idea to forego the verbal cue until the dog is hitting criteria.