Patron’s Choice: Routine Building | Skills Demonstration and Demonstration of Skill

Compliments of: Disc Dog Radio

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MOVE!!! You are NOT a Spectator

Once you are done with your job, MOVE. Disc comes out of the hand for the flip, you should be moving. If the handler moves as soon as the job of throwing is over, the dog is late to the party and has to respond to the pressure of the handler and the handler’s movements.

When the handler sits back and spectates, the dog lands and sets both the pace and direction and is able to apply pressure to the handler.

Speed is Knowledge

Speed in disc dog freestyle is not about athleticism. It is about knowledge. There is no excuse to stand there for 3 seconds while the dog runs after the disc.

“OK… But where do I go?” That’s where the knowledge comes in.

You’ve read the dog, you know the play, all you have to do is go to that place where the dog is going to be – go there, like NOW! Finish your throw or let the dog get over or off you and start moving to that spot where you know the dog is going to be. This is a simple skill that demonstrates tremendous Skill.

Move Before and Towards for Disc Management

Reflexively picking up discs is not a good habit for a disc dog handler. The discs that are at your feet already are usually part of a pile of two, three, or more discs. Reflexively picking up discs will turn piles of discs into one or two discs… piles of one or two discs that are spread all over the field are not at all useful for Disc Management.

When you finish a move, Move. If you’ve got discs in your hand, enough to do a sequence or get most of the way through the sequence, move to meet the dog atop a pile of discs and do or finish the sequence over there.

Let large piles lie and throw and move towards them. Leave the pile you just made and come back to a big fat pile later.

On Transition Between Sequences and Out Throws

Transitions between sequences are usually neglected. The handler either runs after the dog or the dog comes barreling back to the handler. They meet together and either go over, stop, or fire out a long linear passing move. Rinse and Repeat… in clockwise fashion.

Follow the Dog

Running towards the dog is a common transition between sequences or after out throws. And the handler is usually running because they watched the pretty dog catch the frisbee or they stopped to pick up discs.

Following the dog is different. It happens as soon as you let go the disc. A brisk walk started immediately after the release of a 12 yard throw will meet the dog at 12 yards immediately after the catch and reorientation – no running required.

If the handler has done a good job of reading the dog, that intelligence can be used to shave more of the distance walked off and allow for a more flowing and smooth hook up.

Not having to run is a bonus.

Strong & Weak Intercept

If the disc is thrown to the dog’s strong side, the dog is likely to continue moving in that direction. If the disc is thrown to the dog’s weak side she is likely to peel off and reverse field.

To intercept the dog after a catch on the strong flank, you will MOVE!!!  to the area in front of the dog. To intercept a weak side release, simply move towards the place the disc was caught. Do it quickly and effiiciently and you’ll likely beat the dog to the place the disc was caught. It is no problem to carry up to 18-20 yards with an easy jog.

A simple rule of thumb demonstrated in Pawsitive Vybe’s Sequence Building class is:

If the dog marches on (strong flank), the handler peels off. If the dog peels off (weak flank), the handler marches on (towards where the disc was caught). This phrasing sets up a Front Cross for hooking up on the run.

Moving Trick

Transitioning with a moving trick is pretty sweet. An over, vault, or intricate pass can have dramatic effect in transition and can often be done while moving towards another pile of discs and like pretty much anything else, a Moving Trick transition starts from the Front Cross.

The key to pulling off a moving trick is to establish at least a sliver of a working flank. This working flank will be whatever flank the dog is on, there is no choice. You may have known it was going to go this way or you may have thought otherwise, but the time for choosing this flank was before you threw.

The working flank is only necessary as a starting point for the Front Cross, which is the trigger for your Moving Trick in this transition.


Transitioning with a working flank, a Repeating Rear Cross, or a quick S turn or part of a figure-8 Front Cross kind of thing to working flank creates nice soft lines and space to breath in transition. It’s soft and smooth team movement that balances out sharp, aggressive linear movement.

Shapes and Angles are just that. Dogs and disc move at angles and certain angles create shapes. If the handler throws straight away with the dog starting in front position is only a line. Handler > Dog > Disc all in a line does not a shape make.

Shapes have to have one of the three out of line, usually the dog. Either the handler is out of line due to curving the disc or the dog is out of line due to angle of approach or throwing direction.

The sharper the angle the more aggressive the shape. The more aggressive the shape and sharper the angle the more difficult and challenging the catch. 

Zig Zag – Lines

A Zig Zag is a pattern of 4 catches in succession in front of the handler at roughly 10 and 2 o’clock. It is usually 2 o clock, 10 o’clock, 2, and then 10. This creates a zig zag pattern in front of the handler.

The Zig Zag sets up a linear pattern. The further towards 9 and 3 o’clock, the less angle is being displayed – the dog is simply chasing the disc – this can eliminate the shape part of the zig zag.

The closer to 12 o’clock the dog catches the disc, the more aggressive the angle. This more aggressive angle requires more precise throwing and has tighter tolerances for success. The closer to 12 the more difficult to execute. It requires both skill and skills to do that stuff.

Around the World (arcs)

An Around the World is almost always done to the dog’s strong working side. If the Around the World is thrown to the weak side the dog is likely to peel off to get back on the strong flank.

If your dog is peeling off and not continuing in motion on the Around the World, try going the other way. Remember that clock throws go clock and counter throws go counter. Backhand goes to the right and Sidearm and Overhand Wrist Flip go left. If you throw them to the other side the throw will be blind and the dog won’t see it leave your hand.

Passing (Lines)

Running by or through the handler, can be considered a Pass. A Pass is a throw that is chased for the catch. There cannot be much angle or shape in a Pass.

A a long pass can only return in a straight line. The further the throw the straighter the line.

Interception vs Chase

Chase might be an angle, but it is not a shape. For a shape to occur, the dog will have to intercept the disc. For an interception to occur, the dog must be off the line created by the disc and the handler as endpoints.

Catching an aggressive interception is like throwing a disc through a car window as it drives by. Throwing a long Pass, a move consisting solely of chase, is like throwing down a hallway. They are not even the same sport when it comes to skills in effect and skill demonstrated.

Lines or Angles Are Thrown

Lines, Arcs, and Angles don’t just happen. They are thrown and handled by the handler. You are controlling your dog’s lines and shapes by where, how, and when you throw and where, how, and when the dog catches.

That’s all on you.

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