Training Triad | End the Victory Lap – Shaping the Release

Shaping the Release

After a dog catches the disc they break off the attack and move to regroup or to a ready position. The movement after the catch can be called the Release. 

This Release, how it goes down, is important and it can go down in bunch of different ways. Some dogs perform a massive Victory Lap after the catch which might be the clickbait that brought you here but some dogs have the opposite problem; dog makes the catch, immediately folds up and flips back around to return to the handler which limits shapes and transitional movements. Both of these situations are shaped and reinforced by how the dog Releases after the catch while playing.

Either of these extremes can be extremely frustrating for dog handler and team and there are many times when a handler will want to shape a different movement or pattern after a catch. The Release will be a factor in shaping that pattern.

Does your dog have a Victory Lap? Does that bother you? Do you wish your dog had a bit of a Victory Lap arc after the catch or would come back to you a little less hot and aggressive? Shaping the Release is the place to start.


After the initial Release, the next thing the dog will need to do to keep the game going is to Reorient. A Victory Lap is essentially a latent Reorientation. Shaping earlier Reorientation is a great strategy for attacking the Victory Lap. 

If your dog is folding up and returning to you right after the catch, like a reflex, you’ve got an overzealous Reorientation – your dog wants to come back to you too much. Good job creating value on you, but too much of anything is a bad thing. Shaping a softer, less aggressive, and later reorientation is how you want to go about loosening that up. 

Reorientation is different than the Release, and it is most likely earlier than you think. Most handlers tend to wait until the dog has started approaching before accepting the Reorientation Criteria. Don’t do that. Approach is next. 


How the dog approaches you sets the tone for how the dog Reorients and also sets the tone for how the dog actually Releases. If your dog is folding up and returning on a dime after the catch and you play with multiple discs, I can tell that you either get right back to business with interior work after your dog catches a long one, or you feed the dog directionally, most likely via a pass or a Through and throw maneuver. 

Working the Approach end of things for shaping the Release and Reorientation is the backchain. 

If you slow down the Approach with Oppositional Feeding, low energy play, a lower rate of reinforcement, etc. You will reduce the dog’s desire to fold up and flip back to you right away. Slowing down the Approach leads to more Outrun (Victory Lap) after the catch. 

If you speed up the Approach using something like Directional Feeding, a cued Bite, high energy, high rate of reinforcement play, you will reduce the Victory Lap as the dog can be made to feel late to the Party and enticed to “show up” earlier.

Three Criteria and Perspectives for Shaping

These three criteria: Release, Reorient, Approach, define the Victory Lap and how the dog moves after the catch and each are potentially distinct criteria for shaping… If the handler chooses and uses them. 

In addition to being the bonafide criteria within the Victory Lap and after catch scenario, breaking this down into Release, Reorient, Approach, provides perspective and timing opportunities that are connected to key criteria. 

The key criteria: Release, Reorient, Approach can be reinforced and shaped using Reward Placement and then it just becomes typical dog training stuff… How and what you mark and where and how you deliver the cookie, or if you even mark at al

We’ll be discussing and using this Triad in class moving forward. You should come join us… 

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The Purpose and Value of Recognizing Shapes in Disc Dog Freestyle

Shapes are created by the position and movement of dog, handler, and disc. And shapes can be created by the dog, the handler, and the placement of the disc. Shapes are a fact of disc dog freestyle.

When the dog leaves the handler for a catch, that tends to create a line. When the dog is away from the handler and moves across the field to make a catch, as in a Zig Zag or Around the World, that tends to create a Shape.

On Shapes in Disc Dog Freestyle

Shapes are more than just the trail left by the dog on the field, and the patterns created by the dog after the catch. Shapes differ from Flatwork, and higher level Shapes should not rely solely on how the dog releases after a catch. Shapes are how the dog moves to navigate the catch.


  1. So, since it just becomes dog training and I’m greedy and competitive with a small dog who would be pushing for that 5th throw, theoretically I’d be able to put that overzealous quick turn on verbal cue (before collection for the bite), correct?

    1. Probably not going to happen in the Toss and Fetch context – there is no reason to flip that turn because the reinforcement is 40+ yards from the handler.