Obi has come a long way. He is paying attention to his handler, he’s following his handler’s movements and respecting and responding to positional pressure and body language. As a result he’s playing much more safely and successfully, and his leaping is coming along. That said, he’s still apt to get ahead of himself and run too fast. This could easily spiral out of control and lead to a return to unsafe and unsuccessful play.
If the Dog Goes, Don’t Throw!
Now that we’ve got a cued Drop working and are starting to work some patterns, it is easy to get pressured into coughing up throws to a dog who is running too hard and too fast, especially if you are a good thrower and are able to handle the dog and escape the pressure the dog puts on you.
If the dog goes, don’t throw! is an important maxim to keep in mind. Treat it like the law and you and your dog will be more happy, more safe, and more successful. It’s a very simple rule.
If You Don’t Throw, the Dog Slows and Stalks
If you don’t think this is a true statement, you are only throwing out in front of you in linear fashion, in which case, if you don’t throw you get clobbered and run into. This is completely true if you are throwing laterally or Setting the Flank means to throw out to your right or left. It’s really simple, just face any direction, send the dog Around, and then turn and throw the disc More.
If the dog is on Out to the side of the handler is the Flank. If the dog is out to the handler's right or left the dog is on Flank. If the dog is More, running laterally or moving with you, and you don’t throw, the dog runs past you a bit and then turns towards you. As the dog turns towards you, he slows down and looks in. This is stalking.
Turn With the Dog and the Dog Turns With You – Stalking
Turning with the dog after the stalking has started is, essentially, working the Flank. A working Flank has the dog moving with the handler stalking the disc.
Now, Obi is stalking rather hard, he’s too close and he’s pressuring me quite a bit, but he is not taking off and I’m not coughing up the disc. This type of movement cultivates Team Movement is how dog and handler move, as a team, out there on the field. It is a judging category in some organizations and certainly is a focus of More. Obi is learning to move with me. His high speed, devil may care running doesn’t work and is counter productive and he is starting to realize that it might be a better idea to simply regulate his speed lest he be out of position when I decide to throw.
This speed regulation, looking in, and moving with the handler creates a stalking behavior. Obi is learning to stalk the handler to make a throw happen.
Mix It Up and Keep Him Guessing
You want to mix things up to avoid pattern training by the dog. I don’t want Obi to learn that we move from 9 o clock to 3 o clock and catch at 12 yards. That kind of reliable pattern will reinforce his speedy aggressive movement that forces his handler to cough up discs to a speeding bullet. Hitting a bullet with a bullet is not fun and not a safe disc dog activity.
Mix in the working flank, add in a Front is a stable position directly in front of the handler. Front is an traditional obedience skill. Usually your dog sits in this position, but standing is often acceptable as More and On a Rear Cross, the dog switches Flanks with the behind her. From clock to counter clockwise Flank or vice versa. Taken directly from the canine agility world, the Rear More. Ask the dog to move with you exercise your Team Movement. Exercising Team Movement will give you both practice moving as a team. If you move like a team then the dog won’t practice taking off and you won’t be “forced” to cough up discs to be successful.