Patron’s Choice: Routine Building | Playing Games with Purpose

Compliments of: Disc Dog Radio

Play With Purpose and Unlock the Power of Purposeful Play

Every game we play with our dog is a purpose driven endeavor. Most of the time, the only purpose people care about is scoring points. That is a purpose, but I wouldn’t say that is THE purpose. For anyone who wants to grow and expand their skills and abilities, playing games for points alone is not going to help you.

Games Within Games

The UpDog games are uniquely suited towards purpose driven play, as they were created to grow and expand disc dog freestyle skills and have strategically minded rulesets that create multipurpose play. The same adjustment of purpose can and should be used in any other disc dog game you want to play. 

4 Way Play and Freestyle

Playing 4 Way Play using freestyle skills and sequences is an amazing tool for situational and spatial awareness on the disc dog field.

This could probably be set a bit further away from the corner, as Loot is looking to land well past the corner of the zone. His rear feet are probably landing past the cone. I’d like his 2 front feet to land just past the cone. 

Simply play the game to land the dog just inside the corner of each scoring zone – playing deliberately on the Line is your Dog’s Friend angle of UpDog’s ruleset. Rebound and have your dog land 1 foot in the scoring zone and make your out throw to the next zone. Manage the dropped disc and try to continue flowing your freestyle moves.

Overs, flips, vaults – you should have a read on your dog’s release and resolution of each pf these skills. Play a game of 4 Way Play specifically to test your ability shape your read into something controlled and purposeful. This is a highly useful skill for Routine Building.

This also has tremendous applications for the wind. Landing your dog in the corner of the scoring zone, on purpose, on the fly, means instant and fluid adjustments to even swirling wind conditions.


FunKey, and to a lesser extent, the other UpDog agility crossover games, creates a unique handling situation. The physical handling and throwing is extremely challenging, but the mental, strategic planning and execution of the plan are a serious challenge – the kind of challenge that, when overcome makes team movement in a routine seem like child’s play.

The handling, the pattern, and the goal driven unlocking of throws with obstacles all create a patient, observant, and biddable dog. Flowing all over the field, with ease and with a plan has great value in Routine Building

Spaced Out & Greedy

The large scale throwing games, Spaced Out and Greedy offer a terrific opportunity to work, exercise, or proof the cued Drop, and also provide for a tremendous tracking or pattern delivery game.

The Drop (and Drop vs Catch) can easily be worked within this framework and the handler can choose where and when to drop for various purposes: to keep the game moving, to make disc management easier, to reinforce the dog to manage drive, to throttle down the dog’s drive – there is just a ton of opportunity to work live-speed, in game dropping skills in these games.

Spaced out and Greedy can be thrown for various purposes. Tracking and Leaping can be worked as well within these games, although I’ll warn you, delivering Zig Zags and other patterns within the game of Spaced Out and Greedy is mighty tough. How the handler delivers the discs matters. I tried for a long time to do it to test my ability to make leaping strikes on lines of my choosing – something that completely fits within purposing my play towards something – something that would completely benefit Routine Building.

But holy cow! It’s so hard. Not kidding. I finally gave up and started to throw it high and let it float down for a silly, walking catch. But something interesting happened with that.

My dogs started to Track the discs well. They now walk from zone to zone, simply catching the disc. I know it’s kind of lame, but guess what they do now when they’re on a line and a disc is obviously thrown too high? You guessed it, they slow down and walk it down for the catch.

Eliminating lines and throwing high to have the disc drift down is practical, in-game, competition field tracking practice. What more could you ask for.

Throw N Go

UpDog Throw and Go is unique in a couple of ways that allow more purpose to be expressed than 5 40 yard catches with a clean dog to handler transfer.

Patterns like the Pendulum or setting the flank can be used to play the game and be competitive doing it. Throw and Go has many ways to score points. Play around with your skills and patterns and see if you can’t get on a podium while developing the skills of your choosing.

More From the Playing with Purpose Series

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