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.
[alert type=”danger” close=”true” heading=”Warning!”] 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![/alert]
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 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.