Lesson

Rewarding with Plastic

Rewarding a dog with flying discs is an artform. If you are good at it, you can get more out of your dog in a shorter amount of time and maintain a healthy performance relationship.
There are many ways to reinforce with a disc. Some are rather straightforward, some are a bit counterintuitive, and some go beyond the disc.

Roller

Probably the most awesome cookie that can be given to a dog with a disc, the roller is the go-to reinforcement for teaching dogs how to chase and catch discs.

A roller is just like a ‘normal’ throw except instead of the disc flying horizontally like a wing through the air, you roll it, vertically, like a wagon wheel.

This throw generates eye popping prey drive in most dogs. It bounces and hugs the ground, it curves, and it wants to get away like a rabbit. This throw is best placed in front of the dog’s face at an angle that makes for a super exciting and challenging chase.

Rollers are long on opportunity; they can be live targets for a long time. The traditional flying disc toss is in the air and then it dies when it hits the ground making the timing and commitment criteria hard to hit for dogs that may not have that killer instinct and high drive.

A roller is usually caught far from the handler. This reward placement can be used to create value away from the handler making it more likely that the dog hangs out or goes to that area. Leveraging reward placement can create, alter, and fix patterns and movement on the field.

Benefits of Roller Reinforcement

  1. Triggers Prey Drive
  2. Long on Opportunity
  3. Adds Value Away from Handler

Cued Bite

A cued Bite is a killer cookie. Remember that the cued Bite is more about resisting the dog’s pulling than tugging and that it is the removal from the hand, the act of “taking it”, that is the Bite criteria — mark when the dog pulls it out of your hand. .

Slider

A Slider is useful when Reward Placement is a concern. A disc slid upside down doesn’t travel too far and is easy to place for training purposes.

It’s not the most exciting cookie, and sometimes dogs don’t care for them too much, but if your dog knows that the cued Drop makes next happen it works quite well.

Chase

Chase is a powerful motivator. Dogs love to chase things, even things
they don’t get to catch. For some dogs, the thrill of the chase is far greater than the satisfaction of the bite or the eating of the prey.
When chase is offered consequently, after a positive marker, it becomes a cookie, a very powerful cookie.

Many trainers are not aware that they can reinforce behaviors with chase, and some trainers are afraid to use it because it is not a concrete “cookie”.

While it may not be the most obvious cookie out there, and it might not be a concrete primary reinforcer, like food, it most definitely is reinforcing to most dogs and is a powerful and easy to use reinforcer in the game of disc.

Signature/Favorite Trick

Reinforcing a behavior with a trick that has a great deal of reward
history on it or is highly reinforcing is a great way to reinforce a dog during bitework and the game of disc in general.

Next

This is probably the most important cookie in dog training. Next is a powerful motivator for skilled learners and athletes.

What is next? Next is opportunity. Next is what I want. Everything in a dog’s life is about next. If she ain’t sleeping, next is on her mind and in her actions. A handler who controls next controls the dog and has an endless supply of powerful cookies.

Offering next as a cookie to a dog that knows and likes what she is doing leads to great performance and a creates strong desire to do the behavior. Next becomes an earned opportunity.

Convince a dog that compliance with cues makes next happen, and make sure that next is always awesome, then that dog will do just about anything asked, and will do it with gusto.

Next is easy to offer and easy to control. Leveraging next as a cookie allows positive reinforcement or negative punishment through access to work.

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