Patron’s Choice: Routine Building | On Shifting Focus and Purpose

Compliments of: Disc Dog Radio

When most people work routines they have one of three purposes:

  1. Get Through It
  2. Be Perfect
  3. Get Better

These options are limited, and they completely avoid the key question: How?

  • How do I get through it?
  • How can I be perfect?
  • How do I get better?

When building and working your routine, spend some time running your routine towards these purposes:

Focus Between the Tricks

Play with the purpose to focus on the moments between the tricks. Let the importance of each individual trick or each sequence fall off a bit, and run the routine with the focus on the moments between the tricks. The Rhythm is in the gaps – place your focus there and find that rhythm.

This is how you will learn how to both do and use transitions to your benefit instead of just barely being able to do them. Odds are you’ll find useful knowledge and creative expressions; it’s amazing what you can see when you decide to look.

Reading the Dog

In addition to repurposing your routine to focus on transitions, you can and should run your routine with purpose of reading the dog. Dogs tend to cheat a bit here and there in the middle of behavior chains. Sometimes they cut corners and short cut things a bit.

Over the course of time, the dog’s performance within a routine can change. Outruns get shorter, perhaps reward placement changes the release of a trick and all of a sudden the dog is going the wrong way.

Spend some time and energy actually reading your dog within the performance of your routine. It might look different than normal or new things might be cropping up.



Intercepting the Release

Intercepting the Release of the dog after catch with a big, running vault or over requires purposing the routine to this key aspect of play. Setting up your routine specifically to develop and explore transitions or perhaps trying new transitions, is how you explore and experience those skills.

Run your routine with the focus on transitions, like Intercepting the Release, to learn to do transitions and to better understand how they are done.

Throwing with Intent

Your routine can be purposed towards throwing with intent. Intending to do something with each throw. This skill cannot be over stated. It is a game changer, for real.

Instead of focusing on simply getting through, going perfect, or getting better at your routine, do a few rounds where your entire purpose is to deliver leaping catches, or quality throws. Intend to deliver the disc to your dog in stride on the correct line.

Intend to slow the dog down. Challenge the dog. Maybe the dog needs to be sped up a bit. How and why you throw can have great bearing on performance. Put some focus there and purpose your routine towards that end sometime.



Play with Purpose

Playing with purpose is how you learn to do things you don’t really know how to do. Intending to do something, expecting a result, and being present in the moment to observe and catalog that result is how knowledge and understanding grows.

If you’re just out there hoping to make it through your routine every time, or are out there always paying attention to one thing – focused like a laser beam on your weaknesses, perhaps – you won’t be able to see and do the things required for you to grow: dog, handler, or team.


Try to do things with your skills, forms, and abilities. Play with purpose and purpose your play.

More From the Playing with Purpose Series

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