Getting a handle on a high drive dog’s movement on the disc dog field is tough. Flatwork is a tool that can be used towards drive management to great effect.
Combining crosses with gait changes tests a teams ability to throttle back and be precise.
Evolution of Patience
This is the evolution of a cue I use to stop Premature Ejumpulation, (aka: Irrational Leaping) called “Patience”. Patience means to track and collect. It’s a bit less discrete than Track or Collect, but it served a tremendous purpose in thoughtfully slowing my dogs down.
So patience kind of morphed into a slow down cue, a replacement for “easy” which I used pretty much everywhere and was little more than noise.
While working the Flank after giving the patience cue, I noticed that the dogs were trotting. So I kind of crammed patience into that trot cue.
Over the last couple months, I’ve been cuing the verbal Trot with the physical backing off you can see in the video above.
Physical Cue & Pressure
There is some funky pressure going on when switching your dog into the trot. I think for many dogs, the trot is the gait they use to slow down and stop. It’s the only time some dogs use it.
The dog needs to kind of ride in the pocket of the Flank, too. If the handler pulls to fast, or is pulling the dog too much, the trot is not likely to happen. Also if the handler is too slow the dog will stop or skip behind to get in front of the game.
Easing back the physical cue by bending the elbow seems to do a good job of indicating the reduction in speed while maintaining the Flank pose. Popping the disc out with the straight arm is a good Go cue.
Release Early and Often
You want the Trot to be a duration behavior. Duration has a release.
Once the dog trots, even for a moment, give your release cue (or marker). Releasing early and often will mean that the Trot is always reinforced after the release cue (or marker). Learning to release your dog early and often is a key to all duration behaviors.
Perfect implementation of this means that, practically speaking, any time a Trot cue has been given your dog has trotted until the release cue (or marker) was given. Create a standard release cue that is well reinforced and you have a very powerful backchain that makes trotting on cue a given.