Historical footage recovered from our cloud archive, the Polkanado puppy learning the A Hoop is an Over or Vault that travels through a hoop made from your arms or body. A Hoop expresses great teamwork and connection between dog and handler. Most Hoops are done behavior. This was her first shot at the skill and you can see she got it right away. Now part of that is because she is not only super cute, but she’s super smart, but this simple 3-step Hoop technique we’re going to cover right here is extremely elegant and effective.
The set up is simple. You will need an obstacle or a wall, a comfy space with good footing to work on, and some yummy cookies.
Step 1 – Arm Out Toss Cookie
The first step is to get close enough to the obstacle to touch it with your outstretched arm. Hold a cookie in the hand of the outstretched arm and toss the cookie with a simple flick of the wrist as illustrated in the video.
Step 2 – 1 Arm Out 1 Arm Up Toss Cookie
After a few successful reps add the upper arm well above the dog (don’t rush to get a hoop) to get the dog used to the weird pressure provided by the lurching handler creating the hoop.
A Take is a cued Bite that replicates the placement and timing of a throw. Usually used with overs, vaults, and flips, the Take is a powerful teaching tool for creating habitual leaping your time. Apryl does this really fast, 1 rep. And you can do that, but it is not advisable. Get a few reps before getting here and before moving on. Keep it simple and easy. There is no need to rush.
Step 3 – Close Hoop Toss Cookie
After several successes with Step 2, close the hoop. You can close this fully or you can slowly close the hoop. The choice is yours. Do what feels right for you and your dog.
Keep the hoop low until your dog is really firing through on the presentation of the hoop itself.
You can do this in both directions, like back and forth, instead of in a single direction as illustrated in this video. It’s quick, efficient, and fun and leads to a high rate of reinforcement, many CPMs (cookies per minute).
Working in both directions also allows you to work both clock and counter directions. You may switch the bottom arm or keep it the same. The choice is yours.
Adding the Verbal
Resist adding the verbal cue until the dog is really solid on the skill.
When you do add the verbal, give the verbal and pause a moment. After a moment’s pause, quickly present your hoop. This pause will help the dog reflect on what is being asked.
If you were rewarding with action, do the same here. Waiting on cue and situationally is extremely important for disc dog freestyle training. The competition field might not see too much waiting going on as everything is supposed to be happening in flow, for Unsolicited eye contact or Attention is a great way to hook up with a dog. If you have something the dog wants he should give eye contact in order to get access to and give the verbal cue as the cookie for Attention then quickly present the hoop after the verbal. This will bring back the memory of your path to this point and properly prompt switch from the physical to verbal cue.