This week’s featured training video is on Canine Disc or Disc Dog. I am working with Miranda on the compulsory behaviours for a freestyle routine. One of these is an over the body jump. The dog must jump over the handler’s body or body part and in our case we are working on over the legs.
We started the training with Miranda not ever having done this before, so she is learning from scratch. Even though a dog may know how to catch a disc well, there are some things that have to be addressed when adding in a difficulty such as this.
An over the body jump happens most often when the dog is running towards you rapidly and then jumps over catching the disc in the air while in flight over you. If your dog is carrying a disc towards you while setting up for the jump, often she will drop it too soon and it will be out of reach for you to use when you need it for another move. Alternatively, your dog may not drop the disc at all and completely miss the one you want her to catch in your hand.
Both of these issues are common, and are what I am working on with Miranda to avoid. I want her to drop the disc within 10 feet of me – just before she starts to set up for the jump over the legs. Then once the jump is made, she needs to turn around sharply, drop the disc she just caught, and then go for the next one, whatever that will be.
The best way to teach this is to practice each part of the behaviour separately for each other. The two behaviours are the “drop” and the “jump”. In the picture above, I am working on getting the “drop” in close proximity to me before taking the next disc. The dog needs to WANT to drop the disc. In our case, I am using food rewards to encourage Miranda to do that and then take the second disc.
If a dog cannot drop the disc first, then it makes it more difficult to get that behaviour for the over the body jump. Sometimes it will become a habit of behaviour for the dog to not let go of the disc. This is why it is important to teach the drop BEFORE you add in another disc to the jump.
Once the drop is well learned – and I mean WELL learned, then the two behaviours can be put together. I believe this is the most important thing you can teach your dog to do properly – to drop the disc when cued – for this sport. If it does not happen at the times when you need it to happen, it can really mess things up in a freestyle routine, and make it so that you tire yourself out running to find discs to continue with. The drop is also used with other moves like under the body, cross-overs, multiples and even just a simple long throw.
Any dog that is interested in chasing things can learn to play disc as long as the dog’s body is fit. The key is in the handler learning how to teach the behaviours properly to the dog. Dogs that play disc do not need to do fancy jumps or vaults to enjoy the game or even to earn titles in the sport.
The titling body for Canine Disc or Disc Dog in Canada is the Canadian Disc Dogs Association. You can find them online at http://www.canadiandiscdogs.com/home