Tell, Trigger, Target is the disc dog vault sequence. Tell the dog where the disc will be caught and what type of vault is to be done, Trigger the dog’s movement with the presentation of the vaulting platform, and set the Target. It is your job to deliver this information so the dog leaves the ground knowing these three pieces of critical intelligence.
Tell – What Kind of Vault?
“Top” is my cue for “linear vault”. Top means that you will be vaulting in a straight line using whatever vaulting platform or body part is presented.
“Rebound” is the cue for a flipping vault from whatever platform or body part is presented.
“Stall” means to leap up on the presented body part or platform and wait there.
This is the first piece of information the dog needs to process.
Tell – Where Is It Happening?
The second part of the “Tell” is where will this vault be caught? This information is communicated by a physical placement of the disc before any action takes place.
I am showing Marty where this disc will be caught, to the best of my ability. This might be the exact spot or it might be an approximation of the line taken to get there, as it is not always possible to precisely demonstrate the exact catching location. After he sees where this is going to happen, I do my very best to hit that spot or line.
Trigger – Vaulting Platform Appears
A solid trigger is, perhaps the most critical piece of the puzzle. You must be in control over the start of the vaulting process, and a solid trigger is key to this control.
We use the presentation of the vaulting platform as the trigger. A vaulting platform that is already presented leads to other triggers taking over that can be gamed.
Two of the more typical triggers – the throw and a tap on the vaulting platform – can completely be gamed, as the dog is able to break for the vault as the throw is being loaded up, or as the disc or hand starts to move to tap the vaulting platform.
Using the presentation of the vaulting platform as the trigger guarantees that the dog cannot leave until the handler activates the vaulting platform, and ensures that the dog must respond to the handler’s positioning before launching into the vaulting process. This is a really reliable trigger.
Target – The Dog Targets the Disc, the Disc Does Not Target the Dog
The dog targets the disc. The disc does not target the dog.
The dog leaves the ground for the target. If the dog leaves the ground and no target is present, the dog is literally leaping before they look. How does that work out in most situations?
Leaping before you look practically guarantees timing problems for the team and puts the handler on the spot to deliver a perfect throw to an already leaping dog. You have to hit a bullet with a bullet.
Any mistake in placement means that the dog will have to change plans mid-skill. The dog will have to recognize any placement problems, make a split second decision as to whether or not they will be able to solve said problems, and then will have to execute a plan to either make the catch or bail on the attempt. This means that the entire vaulting process becomes a reactive skill.
High drive dogs don’t make very good decisions in those situations, and you don’t want your dog to react to problems as their vaulting foundation.
Intelligent Response vs Reactive Guessing
A dog leaving the ground for the target knowing all the variables leads to intelligent responsive vaulting.
Leaping before you look creates a situation where you guess and then react. Which one is likely to be safe and successful?
Marty clearly demonstrates an intelligent response. It’s why it looks so pretty. It’s not because we’re badasses, well, not all because we’re badasses…;-)
It looks pretty and safe because we are working as a team and the vaulting process is well planned and can accommodate trouble easily and Marty is performing the skill as an intelligent response to given information and is not guessing or reacting to unforeseen consequences.