Oppositional Feeding Applications

Easy Cheetah!

Kiva is just an animal on the retrieve. He runs in faster than he goes out and swarms Apryl. Many dogs and handlers have this problem. This constant pressure can be hard to handle and it makes comfortable disc play nearly impossible. Oppositional Feeding is a great tool for slowing dogs down and reducing speed on retrieve.

Notice that the spot that Apryl has chosen to throw the disc is in direct opposition to Kiva’s movement. It is also a bit too close to Kiva’s face, making him think he can actually catch it. This overhead placement forces a flip at a distance if the dog is aggressive for discs. When firing a target directly over a dog’s head, what is she going to do? Flip! From there explosive distance flips are just a matter of hooking up as a team and dialing in the placement for that particular dog.

If you do not have the ability to deliver a proper target (within 8-12 inches every time) you should probably not be trying to do a distance flip. And throwing a distance flip at a running dog is extremely dangerous!

Over the course of this session, Apryl got a feel for what it was like to throw a distance flip. Kiva got a pretty good reason to slow down, and Apryl cued each and every drop – a big deal for a dog that tends to drop early like Kiva. It was a pretty nice session.

After more than a few reps Kiva’s retrieve and return slowed up a bit. Normally he flies in and pounds Apryl, and we both noticed a reduction in that intensity on the way back to the handler. It felt different. When she added the Directional Feeding at the end, notice how easy and smooth Kiva was moving around the field. This is a welcome change from the dog that flings himself around on the field, plays too fast, and exerts tons of pressure on his handler.

Hops Drops?

Hops has a weak drop. Actually, it’s great, but he just knows that it should be done at his handler’s feet. Somebody did a wonderful job with him on the retrieve…

This is a huge problem in disc for many players. The dogs learn, too well, how to retrieve and it winds up being quite hard to get a drop out there… on the run, as the dog is retrieving a disc. In order to play disc dog freestyle the drop has to happen at least 20 feet away. It’s just a must in terms of timing and position for flow and execution of vaults and overs.

Unlike Kiva, after Hops drops he is getting a disc thrown slightly to the left or the right of his chosen path on the retrieve. It’s not a flip, it’s just a simple reversal of field. Properly done, this can set up a nice angle for a quality approach, nice collection, and big leap and it can be tailored to any dog. Definitely play around with it, you might be surprised at what your dog is capable of.

Several times during our session, Hops dropped by mistake. We have to take advantage of those mistakes. Those mistakes can be the most important parts of the lesson. I also marked, and reinforced at a distance, every drop that happened out there, mistakes included. A drop is defined by teeth coming off the disc, period. Not intent, not what’s happening next, not “he’s lying down”…

If a drop at a distance is a problem, if the dog drops it out there, for any reason, after the cue, take advantage of it by marking and reinforcing.

I’m calling the drop really early and waiting a decent amount of time before Hops drops. The latency here can be problematic, I definitely do not want this to be the finished product.

But I’ve never really had any kind of drop with him in the past, nothing at all reliable. We’ve been in the manufacturing the drop stage for a long time. Now that a drop is happening somewhat reliably, predicting the drop will be the next place to go. We will start to predict the Drop and cue when it is likely to happen to reduce the latency and prove that a drop cue promptly followed makes all good things happen.

Don’t Play Too Long

We ran both of these dogs too long. Two to three minutes of this kind of work is a long time. We ran these guys 5 minutes for the camera and this lesson and they were pretty beat. Being tired didn’t help Hops and his drop issue and it also didn’t help teach and proof Kiva’s patience away from the handler and comfortable retrieve. Both sessions would have been much better and delivered far better instruction to the dogs if we quit after a high moment about 2 minutes into the training. That would have been money.

If you’re working on a drop, big leaping, or are dialing in a distance flip a fatigued dog is a problem. Tired dogs make bad decisions.

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    1. Most likely not, Justyna, but it is possible. If the dog were not dropping far away, or if the dog had a strong retrieving pattern and would not work away from the handler for more than a single disc I could see using this to get them to want to do work out there.


  1. Ha ! Ha ! Cool !!! Awesome drill !
    Tried today first with Ozz and second with Blue, on direct opposite spot . Two different behaviors.
    Ozz at every toss over his head, jumped straight in air and caught the disc. 1.5 catch, 2m catch. At 2,5 miss 🙂 I expected this behavior, he have a perfect spectacular right flip, weak left flip and almost nonexistent straight flip.
    Blue instead at first toss over his head, stopped with that funny expression on his face ” Hey Dude ! What are you doing ? Don’t you see me ?” 🙂 Then he flipped every time.
    I think this can be included in a rutine, proof timing, handler’s precision, dog’s athleticism.
    On the second part I tried to flip Ozz at 15-20m from outrun. Explosive, perfect flips !
    If i remember well you mentioned this Ron, not long ago. Thanks ! Fits Ozz perfect 🙂
    Just I’m sorry I didn’t thought to tape our play. Next wend i’ll do 🙂

    1. Hey Bruno! Right on, man!
      Distance Flips! Right on!
      There is another placement, just so everyone knows and so you can give it a shot without flipping…
      The placement I put on Hops was real nice from a leaping perspective, and does more to add value further away.

  2. Hey Ron, few edited parts from the last two days. No directional feeding. More like oppositional.
    Question: When he comes back facing if I turn my body to the side and throw on the line he is running on can this be considered directional feeding? Or should I let Lupo make the choice? I am asking because I tried it and we started having some flow but I wasnt sure if I was doing the right thing (this is not on the video). If you I dont make sense let me know, I ll try to expain it better.


  3. By the way I got some horrible in the video hehehe. Got proper ones the other day, they are on their way. So please ignore that fact. Also I am terrible at throwing short distance. I cant make them hover and they end up falling like rocks 😉
    Maybe I ll get better with the new ones

  4. WOW! This looks like it is the answer to my prayers! Aerial retrieves like a locomotive and won’t slow down for anything. I tend to succumb to her wishes and throw bad throws by just being too hasty by her being so pushy. This looks like a good way to work with an aggressive disc dog keeping the reward high and teaching them to be soft at the same time.

    Thank you.

    1. Absolutely, Marcia. If you make this consequent – Drop = throw and the catch happens out there – you really alleviate that pressure. The dog will actually stop out there some times, shocking as that may seem…

      We’re dialing it in and will be hitting on it at camp for sure.

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