Drop with Prima and Hops

Here’s Hops and Prima working on their drop skills. Neither of them drop particularly well

Hops was a single disc, retrieve only dog when we got him and Prima has problems dropping because her canines puncture the disc and it gets stuck on her teeth… notice the use of the paws to pop it off her teeth.

This was the first Drop session for Hops since the Flanking and Feeding video. He was dropping real late. There’s a nice reduction of latency between the time the cue is called and the disc is dropped when you compare the two videos.

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  1. Video Assessment – Bob & Scout Working Drop

    Here’s my assessment of your video:

    0-30 Seconds

    Mark the DROP!!!! There was no marking of that first, excellent, drop. You call it once and wait, and then when it happens, you mark – “Yes!” – and animate the game – handler pops into action, disc comes out.

    To get a bunch of practice on this with a high Rate of Reinforcement try multiples, cuing and marking the drop and rewarding with the next disc. It can be a great lesson on Dropping. Of course bitework is not bad either, and it takes the dog a bit more high in terms of drive for proofing the drop on the run while the dog is excited, but Scout isn’t really into that Bitework stuff, so the multiple would be a good alternative.


    Remember this, Bob. This is excellent use of Rewarding with Action and using the energy level of the game to your advantage. Your reaction to Scout’s drop was extremely consequent and was highly reinforcing. The only problem I have is that you didn’t mark the drop, leaving a question in Scout’s mind as to what the behavior was that created this spark in his handler. You must mark the drop!!! This game moves too fast to leave it up for debate – 1/4 second and the dog is on to something else, performing a different behavior – you have to tell the dog the moment he is right on this drop work. Isolate and highlight the teeth coming off the disc and reinforce the teeth coming off with consequent, exciting play.


    After you call the drop, you immediately get set up into throwing position. This creates opportunity for the dog, and Scout does a lot of eyeing in the presence of opportunity… so play it a little more cool.

    Call the drop and wait… with your hands at your sides, ho hum… whistle a tune if you want… as soon as he drops, pop your self into that throwing position and fire out the disc. His drop makes the whole sequence happen.

    From :40 to 1:07 you were solid, still not marking, but you were consequent and reinforcing. It was good work.

    Try to fire out the discs instead of requesting a go around. It is probable that your go around is reinforcing, but it pales in comparison to a challening, split second plan to go get the disc that just flew out of your hands. So when he drops, you MARK it and reinforce by throwing a disc that will be a challenge for him, either directional feeding or oppositional feeding style. Even a zig zag kind of pattern would work. Try Oppositional feeding for big leaping (Hops) and a wider zig zag pattern.

    You probably should have ended the session here. Short bursts of perfect performance is what you want. Not marathon sessions of good and bad…


    You don’t want to get him to drop it. That’s not your job, Bob… Your job is to wait for him to drop it and MARK and reinforce him. He needs to decide to drop on his own. He needs to learn that his dropping makes the game happen. As long as you work to create the drop you are hobbling his recovery. You cue it and wait. Do nothing… you’ve not waited more than 6 seconds in this session for a drop. As soon as it doesn’t happen, you go to work trying to make it happen, and Scout knows this. He’s waiting for the appropriate cue.

    I just went back and checked… you have a six second attention span on this drop. Stick with the job once it’s started. Get it done. If you have to wait, motionless for 30 seconds or 5 minutes, do it. The time will cut in half on nearly every honest attempt. You are starting a waiting game and not completing it. Which means you’ve conditioned him to wait at least 6 seconds.

    This impatience, your trying to ‘get him to drop’ and the lack of the positive marker, I’m sure have been the weak links in your drop sessions that have made this a problem for you guys.

    Get ruthlessly patient. Clinically consequent. Call the drop and wait… passively, like nothing is going on, as soon as the drop happens, MARK it and animate as you did at 1:20 or so of this video… animate and throw a roller or a throw that is challenging for the dog.

    Also, ask the dog to drop. It’s coming out really sharp and harsh. Think of it as making a request.


    Yeah! You marked it! Still a bit impatient, walking up and such, but you marked and reinforced the behavior well. That’s what it looks like. You need to mark every single drop and reinforce every single one just like this.

    Your directional feeding is a bit long – shorten them up to 10-15 yards max.


    You bumped your attention span up to 10 seconds… good work… let it go longer, because if you give in you’ve just conditioned him to wait 10 seconds now…

    Good eye on the teeth chattering… That means he’s really, really high. Just wait though, don’t try to do something to get him to drop. He has to learn how to drop, by himself, when he’s that high.


    If her arms are getting tired think about the dog… 1-2 minutes, max, is a good session length on this, Bob…

    Good job on the mark here. You have a tendency to get caught up in the moment and be a bit late on the mark. Tighten that up. Be present for the drop – it’s what you’re waiting for a looking for, when it happens, Mark it.


    Did you see that after Scout got to the disc that had just landed out there that he dropped the disc that he was carrying in his mouth? That’s the drop you were looking for. Mark it and throw another.

    By throwing it too early, before Scout had dropped, you were inconsequent, but you can manufacture a drop that way, as the dog usually carrys the disc over to the one that just landed and drops the disc in his mouth to pick up a fresh one. This is a drop! Doesn’t matter how… doesn’t matter why… the dog dropped. Take advantage of the opportunity and reinforce it.

    This should not be done all the time, BTW… but it is useful, if used sparingly, in manufacturing a drop and also in getting a drop further away from you.


    Great patience here… too bad the dog is fried… This tactic here, Bob, if applied from the beginning of play will be the winner. He’s just too tired to think straight right now. 2 minutes max.

    It’s really not bad work Bob. It’s close. Not sure if it will fix your problems as is, though. Here are the things that I think you need to work on to make this more successful:

    1. Mark the Drop
    2. Do nothing until Drop happens
    3. Reinforce primarily with throw or flatwork instead of setup move
    4. Soften your Drop cue – request, not demand
    5. Be consequent
    6. Shorten the Session

    Here’s an idea

    film 3 1 minute sessions over the next couple days and apply the stuff mentioned above and post them as one video… also, try to film it horizontally if you can… 😉


    1. The other thing I’m doing that I figured out while we were doing this, is I’m calling for the drop but not marking it, not saying yes, what I’m doing is just throwing it again, which is a consequence but not marking right?

      1. Correct!

        Predict and Call the Drop

        Make sure you are calling the drop when it is likely that Scout is going to actually drop it. If calling it 35 yards away is not very likely to happen, then don’t call it at 35 yards away. Call it at 20. Call it at 5, when it will happen. Predicting the drop well can really make the session flow and dial in the drop much faster than calling it super early or when it is not likely to happen.

        Mark the Drop

        Mark the Drop and make sure that right after you mark it that you start to prepare to throw or spring into motion. The drop on cue makes the throw or team motion happen.

        Reinforce the Drop

        A set up move after the drop is marked is weaker reinforcement than a throw or some team motion – it’s sometimes like being asked to do more work. Once Scout understands that this cued drop leads to awesome stuff, he’ll be stoked to drop – listening for that cue – then we can start to ask him to do some more work like a set up move. For right now, I’d stick to drop = throw, roller or or pulling the dog around flatwork style – border collies love that – stay away from ‘go around’ as reinforcement for teaching a drop…

        Wait for the Drop

        And then, of course you have to just wait for him to drop. You seem so anxious and excited to get him to drop. For get about that. Just wait patiently and get excited when he drops! It might take a long time, but who cares… do nothing but mark and get excited when he drops.

        This is a big part of your issue, you are setting up a waiting game and losing – at the beginning of your video, you were losing after 6 seconds as you start to ‘get him to drop’. Towards the end you were at 15 seconds or perhaps a bit more. Once you start a waiting game, you win, period. Super important! If you start a waiting game and it takes 2 minutes of you standing there with nothing happening, that’s what it takes. You will try to avoid these long waits by predicting the drop better. By ensuring that your dog is fresh and not fatigued. By doing some work with multiples in lieu of bitework.

        Smaller Game

        Multiples was mentioned about to increase the Rate of Reinforcement. Also, generally shrinking the game can also have the same effect. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to go out 30+ yards for a disc. If you throw 10-15 yards away (which is a pretty standard Freestyle Distance) you increase the rate of reinforcement and reduce the amount of effort that the dog has to put out to play. This means you’ll get more reps with a fresher dog, a dog who is not fatigued, making it more likely that the behavior will be successful.

        Does all this make sense?

        Like I said, man, it’s real close. It would probably have worked with a dog that doesn’t have a lot of eye like a BC…

        Just a bit of fine tuning and you should be good, Bob.

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