Disc Dog Flanking and Feeding

The first steps of Practical Flatwork are Setting the Flank and Directional Feeding

Setting the Flank

The Flank is a position where the dog is out to the side of the handler. Flanking allows us to set up patterns that are not just towards and away from the handler.

Setting the Flank is the act of getting your dog out there, and usually consists of a little body language and a well placed disc.

It adds depth to the game of disc. If the dog is working the Flank, then more than 1 disc will be caught away from the handler. The game of disc changes from a game of chase and retrieve to catch and communicate.

Flanking and Feeding

Directional Feeding

Directional Feeding is an incredible drill for dog and handler. What we do is to toss a disc to our dog, preferably on the Flank, and then ask for the drop. Once the drop happens we throw the disc to the dog on the line he has chosen.

The object of this throw is to place the disc so that our dog catches it on the run with a nice leap. That cannot happen if we throw it in the opposite direction that the dog is moving (Doh!), or throw it to a dog that is unprepared.

Directional Feeding allows us as handlers to learn what patterns our dog runs. It also gives handlers the opportunity to practice throwing to where the dog is going to be and to practice hitting our dogs on the run.

More about Directional Feeding

As far as the dog goes, Directional Feeding can be used to teach a drop on the run to teach them to value more than one disc at a time, both troublesome issues with dogs that have had a steady diet of throw and catch. Another thing this drill does very well is to teach the dog that performance of the behaviors the handler asks for earns the opportunity to play.

Directional feeding is the base level of Freestyle.

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Throwing With Intent

Throwing with Intent is throwing a disc to your dog with the intent to make them look good. Throwing the disc to promote a big leap, to hit the dog in stride on the run or throwing a disc that your dog is going to flip for 10 yards away, is the sign of a mature handler.


  1. Hi Ron.

    When doing a direction feed in a circle and the dog is out there and on the run do we say anything to cue that another disc is on the way or what (just use our trailing arm as direction for them) ? I have only really ever did close around the world or have tossed one disc followed by another while yelling go after each thrown disc.


  2. Hey there, Marion.
    Check out the video above… just added…

    In Directional Feeding, the dog sets the pattern. An around the world is a set pattern. You are actually working on the Flank and pulling the dog around with your body and reward placement (frisbees tossed). That is Directional Leading (another fun game to play).

    Directional Feeding is just responding to the dog’s natural line… kind of a quibble, but important, nonetheless.

    Ask for the Drop
    I would like to see you work off of the Drop for patterns like Around the World. So ask for the drop. Mark it! Reinforce it with a throw. This way the dog can learn that the cued Drop makes the next disc happen. When the dog believes that, they’ll hold it until they hear the Drop cue and spit it out readily. That’s pretty nice.

    By throwing while allowing the dog to hold the disc until they want to drop, or allowing the dog to drop whenever, the Drop is not really a notable part of the game. The Drop cue will most likely be weak and when we need the dog to drop out of our normal context we might not be able to get it.

    Also, calling for and marking the Drop allows us to give our dog an easy win – it’s a confidence builder at any time – it’s easy to achieve success when we need it. It allows us to Reward with Action, at any time.

  3. With directional feeding, if I let Ezzy set the pattern, she moves straight ahead, ie, away from me, with the disc. This makes it hard to call the drop and throw another for her. I can get her to do a round pattern, but that is with me directing the play. What to do? Should I call her back? – which is what I have been doing. Olyn

    1. Olyn,
      No problem at all Olyn…
      Just let her. Wait for her to reorient to an angle in which you can throw a disc to her, then call for the drop.

      The Back and Forth should get tighter as she realizes that there’s another disc to be caught on her way in.

      You can also call the out at a similar time and reinforce with a bite and tug in your hand if you do Bitework. Ezzy doesn’t really value the area around the handler so much. Bitework adds value to the area around the handler.

      You can also just throw a disc in the other direction as well to increase the dog’s desire to return with the disc. Same thing… wait for the reorientation… ask for the drop and mark it then throw so she has to cross the plane of the handler.

      So if she’s in front of you, you’ll call the drop and throw to a spot that is behind you, on her line. When she’s confident that a throw could happen behind the handler, she’ll probably hustle a bit more.

      Make sense?

  4. Here is my video for the week. This actually is the second time we’ve made it out to play with frisbees. Last week she skinned her paw and was a limping mess all through the weekend.


    I put my questions/problems in the video but my main issues currently are:

    1. I’m not good a throwing.
    2. My dog’s not good at catching or landing, probably related to #1 😉
    3. The frisbees are tearing up my dog’s mouth. I am using Jawz Hyperflite discs.

    Let me know your thoughts…


    1. OK…
      Questions and answers to your questions:
      1. Where, in California, do you live? I’d like to hook you up with someone to help you throw in person.

      2. You are correct it is poor placement that is giving your dog a hard time with catching and safe landings.

      3. How long are you playing?

      The pogo stick landings are happening because your dog is too aggressive on the chase. The fact that your throws are not hovering and you are throwing heavy plastic make the dog have to work very hard, run very hard, to make the catch. If they were hovering a bit more, she’d have more time and be a bit more patient.

      The Interception vs Chase video and article should be looked at here for reference. We’re going to do our best over the course of this week to help you out with your delivery and placement.

      Keep a disc in each hand during your PVR. Be sure that you are using the trailing hand when you pull her around. You are using the leading hand and it’s working, but it’s not communicating the direction with your body that it could. You will pull with the trailing hand and once you get ready to throw, just throw. It is not necessary to throw with the hand that you are pulling with.

      Good job Sara!

  5. Thanks for the tips. I looked over this week’s lessons I think they will help- seemingly tailored to all the problems I’m having at this stage in the game 🙂

    Any suggestions on what type of discs to use? She seems to destroy the softer lighter ones and since they are softer it’s more reinforcing to shred them. I went with the heavy chew proof but I’m thinking they are harder to throw on the person side.

    I’m in the Bay area in Vallejo. I’d love to work with someone on the throwing part.

    I’ve been playing for about 5 minutes then working long down stays, then more frisbee, stays, frisbee. Or obedience practice and then end with 5 min. of frisbee. Kind of doggie circuit training. If I just bust out the frisbees once we hit the lawn, she is too crazy. Seems to do better if I do some controlled training first and then play or mix it up.

    1. The Super Sonics might be a good disc to use.
      You might want to look up Steve Teer… he’s in Vacaville I think… could be a ways away… great guy…

      Be sure to listen to the conference call on the weekly lesson page. We talk about the pogo stick landings towards the end. It’s a good call. Download it and burn it to dvd for a long car ride… 😉


  6. I listened it it last night 🙂 Thanks for discussing my questions even though I couldn’t make it.

    We went out and played a bit today working on having her approach the frisbee from the side to catch and I tried to throw it higher and more floaty. I did this by tossing one out to my side and then outing her and then tossing one to my front like you mentioned in the call. Also tried putting her in a down stay and tossing across in front of her, then releasing to catch. She is running under the frisbee now and then realizing she over shot and then jumping up and sometimes catching and sometimes not. I think if I do this a few more days she will begin to anticipate it hovering and maybe we will start to see the step step collect jump thing happening.

    I will look up Steve. Vacaville is only about 20 min. away from me.

  7. Ember and I had a really good session today! We worked on expanding the PVR and flanking and feeding mostly. I also tried to throw in some of the tips you gave on Monday during the chat. What worked awesome was throwing a disc to her on her way in. The drop is no problem with her but I was nervous to ask for the drop since I have been working on her holding the toy so much. It worked great though because throwing the discs to her more rapidly made her think and slow down a bit. I also focused on moving faster and keeping the game going while were were playing for a minute or two and then having her take a break so I can think. She was much less frustrated and did not bark or bite at me, she was just focused on the next disc. Yeah! I am excited to move on to working on my throwing skills. 🙂

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