Go around is the typical disc dog set up move. It is used in toss and fetch, games, and freestyle to different effects and flavors. This move is not as simple or as rigid as it may seem though… Flatwork can be used to alter the execution of the skill and create flexible and interesting Team Movement. Ron & Epic lay out some of the details below.
Pattern Trained Go Around
The Go Around behavior is used to set up timing for the team to get together to do a move. If the Go Around behavior is always used to create the same situation and timing it will always be the same, for good or for ill.
Using the Go Around in the same manner every time will create a pattern trained understanding and performance of the skill. While this is good for toss and fetch and may be useful in a Zig Zag, it can easily become a problem or an impediment towards purposing the skill towards another application.
If you are not a fan of how your dog goes around, whether the dog pressures you too much or the dog goes out too wide, then you should look at what you always do and whether or not that is a patterned trained expression of the behavior. Odds are it is, and regardless, the behavior can be shaped and altered using reward placement and dog training and doing things differently with a purpose and an eye towards shaping the behavior.
Contraction and Expansion of the Flank on the Go Around
In the video there are 3 expressions of the Go Around behavior being demonstrated and exercised: a neutral or natural Go Around, Expanding the flank, and Contracting the Flank.
The neutral expression of the Go Around is the first 2 reps and serves as an example of what the dog does naturally without input from the handler. You can see that Eppie leaves the handler about 1 yard away and slides out to the front a couple yards.
In the 3rd and 4th reps I push Eppie out using a verbal “Get Out” and physical flatwork cue of stepping out in the direction I want the dog to move and he bounces out to 3-4 yards for a much wider and softer Go Around behavior. This is Expanding the Flank.
The last two reps of the clockwise Go Around is a purposeful contraction of the flank. I step away from the dog with my right foot in the direction I will be throwing and pull Eppie in real close on both the around and in terms of distance out front of the handler.
This is repeated in the Counter Clock direction to similar effect.
Variation, Examples, and Non-Examples
The reason Eppie can do this is not because he is a “Border Collie”, he’s not, well half of him is not…
The reason we can do this (and I do stress the we part) is that we work a variety of Go Around variations and I present both examples and non-examples of each skill while doing focused training.
Performing a variety of variations of a skill is self explanatory. Providing examples and non-examples is not quite so clear or cut and dry.
For instance, while shaping and reinforcing a “Get Out”, or Expanding the Flank, I will throw in a rep or two of a regular Go Around or purposefully Contract the Flank on one of the reps to provide a non-example within our work.
Providing non-examples is important to escaping the false understanding of pattern training and helps to compare and contrast the various varieties of the skill that can be performed. Comparison and contrast requires a non-example and is a powerful tool for training and learning.
Give it a shot…