Patron’s Choice: Shaping a Leaping Catch | Expanding the Flank – Get Out!

Patrons Only Sneak Peek… Public Access Jan 9

Orient the team to the short side of the field, facing the sideline. Verbally cue the around. Step back a beat later with the entry leg as the physical cue is offered, usually a flick of the disc behind or past the hip. After the dog commits to the around, turn the toe out on the exit side while stepping into a throw at 9-10 o’clock.

Ron is facing 10 o’clock from where the sequence started. Loot is checking in to make sure he has the read correct…

Once the handler is capable of delivering the target to the spot before the dog exits the Around, the handler will add the “Get Out” verbal cue. This verbal cue must happen before turning the toe.

Cuing and Time

If your dog is super tight, or is behaviorally rutted into the Around ’n Go, it will be necessary to drive the dog out there with reward placement. A short quick stroke and snappy throw will be required. Waiting for the dog to go around before throwing or taking a long smooth stroke on the backswing allows the dog to make his or her move too early, and will lead to unnecessary mistakes and a longer, more frustration ladened learn.

At Pawsitive Vybe we add the additional verbal cue by simply tacking it on to the initial cue. So Around with a Get Out becomes Around-Get Out, a single phrase. It could just as easily be verbal cue, “Around” then the physical [step back / flick disc] followed by the verbal: “Get out” and the physical [turn toe out] to communicate the get out part. It’s just hard to spit all that our in the limited time available in the go Around with a fast dog.

If you want to use a verbal cue, which we highly recommend, it must be given and received before the dog acts, otherwise it is just noise.

The toe turning out and the body shifting towards the throw is the strong cue. The weak cue, the verbal “Get Out” must be given before the strong physical cue. Conditioning a verbal before the toe and throw will allow the skill to be cued without the physical movement telegraphing the behavior. When a verbal is added you won’t have to fake a throw or even turn the toe, the dog will slide out on his or her own.

Placement and Intent

Where, when, and how the disc is placed while Expanding the Flank depends greatly on what the handler wants to do with it. There is a difference between Setting the Flan and Throwing on Flank. Setting the Flank intends to drive the dog out and condition a lateral release from the handler. Throwing on Flank intends to capitalize on the Flank and do cooperative work out there.

Setting the Flank – Late to the Play

If the intent of the handler is to actually expand the flank and condition the dog to get out further or release more aggressively to the flank, then the throw will be longer, faster, and more aggressive to make the dog late to the party and behind the 8-ball a bit to increase speed and intensity of pursuit.

Setting the Flank will create a linear approach back to the handler, as the dog will overcommit to the pursuit and will have to turn completely around to get back to the handler. Setting the Flank will also create a strong, reflexive lateral release from the handler.

Just whip it out there and challenge the dog and you will have Set the Flank. Once the flank is set, the dog will slide out there naturally at which point in time the team may start to work the flank.

Throwing on Flank – Making the Play

Throwing on Flank requires the handler to read the dog’s line and deliver a throw to a discrete place and time. If the intent of the handler is to work the flank and/or hold the dog on an arcing line, then the disc must be placed thoughtfully in regards to the dog’s line in the spot where the catch can be made and the line maintained. Throwing on Flank is the skill that makes it possible to leap every time.

The dog’s line must be read and the disc hovered on that line at the right height and the right time. This is the team skill of team skills. This skill bleeds over into all others. Dog and handler working together to make not just a catch, but a play that goes a particular somewhere and does a particular something.

Creating the Play

Set the Flank to drive the dog out. Repetitively. Some dogs will take as few as 5 reps, and some won’t do it well after 100. Be clean on your cuing to make the verbal stick out and become predictive as soon as possible. Then the dog will do it because he knows what to do rather than still focused on the reward placement, the handler’s throwing motion and disc delivery to get out there.

Set the Flank often enough and the dog will want to play out to the left of the handler (flip it like usual lefties…). Cue Get Out and wait, and you have set up a play. The dog is out to the left, running to 10 o’clock several yards away. When he looks in, hit him on the flank for a leaping catch.

While conditioning the Get Out and working on Creating the Play, that intended leaping catch on the flank, be sure to mix in a healthy dose of Setting the Flank. 3x Setting the Flank to 1x withholding the throw and Making the Play is a good rule of thumb.

This play was created. Repeated tosses Expanding the Flank to get Loot to release out to the left set up this intercepton opportunity out in front of the handler at 12 o’clock. Boom Pow!
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