How to Build a Disc Dog Freestyle Routine Step 1 – Don’t Build a Routine

Disc Dog veteran, Christi Campbell posted this to the Disc Dog Discussion group on Facebook:

Curious… how do you put together a new routine for the first time with a new dog? I have recently had the opportunity to examine my process and I realized I didn’t have time to do it the way I have always done it, so I am experimenting with a *gasp* new way!

It’s an excellent thread that will surely only get better… Here’s my response:

Think Sequences Not Routines

I like sequences. 5-7 sequences make a routine. I really recommend this to new players as well. Create sequences, explore, keep the awesome ones and leverage the lessons learned from the not so awesome ones towards better and more creative play.

I think one of the biggest problems with a player’s development is attempting to nail down a routine while still a baby in terms of ability. Noobies need to learn what dog and handler are capable of and how things work before building a static routine.

Create a Jam in a Flash

We’re working with the Disc Dog Flash Jams to create novel and interesting sequences randomly and playing them honestly to not just get cool sequences, but to learn how to play and to be surprised and challenged by potential combinations — Dog Catch to Reverse Back Vault, for instance — The random nature of the draw does a great job of breaking standard and habitual patterns: random is to creative as pattern is to habit.

So the flash jam idea, essentially using flashcards for randomizing your moves™, creates learning opportunities and sometimes creates cool sequences. It’s a great way to gain the experience, moves, and training chops of a freestyle veteran in rapid fashion. These lessons, a few key trick to trick combinations, and an occasional sequence or two find their way into the chosen sequences and become your routine.

Given the speed of learning and deployment, literally, draw 5 cards, use 3-5 reps with a wait and take it live speed — a sequence in 5 minutes — it’s a no brainer for us as instructors and as players.

Why Sequences and not Routines?

For the player that is not yet super competitive or threatening to win major contests, building and deploying sequences instead of routines is my suggestion. Learn as much as you can. Try as many variations of things you CAN DO as you can. Be successful.

Wait on the routine until you have core competence and some feeling of what kind of player and team you want to be (and are capable of being). That will be a routine worth investing time and training into and will allow you to showcase what you and your dog can really do.

Art of Linking Tricks

We use a technique called the Art of Linking Tricks to create new disc dog sequences and other drive based behavior chains.

It might sound fancy, but it’s not really. It’s just a wait between each trick in the sequence.

Here’s the complete lesson for more info:
Art of Linking Tricks

Done well, the Art of Linking Tricks creates a stable and patient dog who knows his or her job and is poised to spring into action.

This is how we teach people to build sequences and become a more competent handler.

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