I have never done this before – I haven’t posted videos of my dogfrisbee training (or any other) here, on my blog. But why not? I don’t have enough space on Instagram (characters limit), and on the Facebook page, it won’t be comfortable and easy to read. So here we go with a blog post!
Maybe someone will benefit from such in-depth analysis. Or at least, get someone interested in this fantastic sport that dogfrisbee for sure is.
Let’s get some things sorted firstly.
Beethoven is five years old, and he had the first meeting with frisbee when he was under the age of one. I made a lot of mistakes while training dogfrisbee with him. I had put way too much pressure and ambition into all of it. Remember, dogfrisbee training (and any other) can be and should be a lot of fun for all creatures involved. And I can assure you that you’ll see true happiness in this video!
How to watch and read?
I attached the whole video below, but if you cannot open it in the “picture in the picture” view that would allow you to read and watch simultaneously, please open it on YouTube. Then you could have two windows – one with the video, the other with this post.
Or you can watch and then read – it’s up to you!
Eh, what has happened to me that I have my own YT channel? What’s next? Everyday videoblogs? We’ll see!
Context + warm-up
Beethoven was on a break from dogfrisbee training due to my well-being and quarantine, so I didn’t want to do anything challenging. The plan was clear: practice releasing discs at a distance. The situation in which a dog has one disc, and has to drop it to grab the next one, is very different from the “classic” letting go. Bet has been having trouble with this for a while now, but that’s a story for another day.
We walked to this spot for about 15 minutes, which gives a decent introduction to warming up. A calm amble and trot, sniffing around. Then he had a few minutes of running loose with sudden turns (the recall). Then I spread out my bag on the law, Bet had a drink of water, and we did a few turns for a final stretch. Today’s training was supposed to be without craziness, so I considered such a warm-up sufficient.
Let’s start with the dogfrisbee training!
I disappear from the frame because the iPhone doesn’t have a wide lens, and I just didn’t calculate where I should be. Beethoven is excited at the sight of the discs, so in the beginning, he takes a few turns and slaloms between my legs to get that excitement out in motion first – before getting the idea of biting the disc. In dogfrisbee, emotions are usually pretty high, so let that energy go to the paws first.
The first throw – a gentle floater (the frisbee is supposed to hover in the air, it is not a de facto throw). I want to let Bet remember that he has four paws and how to use them.
I give the command “next” to let go of the disc and grab the next one – thanks to the fact that we have just started, the execution is perfect. Bet has not yet had time to wind himself up or get attached to a disc (because we were tugging with this one), so everything goes like clockwork. The reward is tugging. I say “omiń” (miss, run around me), and Bet doesn’t argue – he lets go of the disc and goes around me, runs for the backhand as a reward – yes, a simple throw is a reinforcement for an experienced dog.
He returns with the disc, and meanwhile, I pick up another one. Beethoven, without any verbal cue, spits the frisbee out of his mouth – this is where I should make a party, start tugging, but probably because of my preoccupation, I just throw “omiń”, and another disc flies.
Probably due to the lack of reward is what happens next. Beethoven comes back at me with the disk, and for some reason, I say “uwaga” (attention). Maybe to wind him up? Gods only know because instead, Bet stops by me with the disk in his mouth. I say “next”, and this is where the suspension begins. This is characteristic for him, and this behaviour is what we are trying to correct, to change.
I ask him to step back – maybe it would be better to step back myself? I’m not sure. I can see that the dog doesn’t feel comfortable in this situation, so I change the position to “spit out the disk, and it will be fun”. The second time the command “next” falls, I try to make the word as energetic and positive as possible. The dog stands. No reaction for another ten or so seconds, but I do not exert pressure. I wait.
At one point, he releases the disc, but just to improve his grip and move a bit. I don’t manage to reward, but it bodes well, some movement made. I keep waiting. Beth stares at the disk but suddenly turns his head away and lowers his ears – a signal that the situation is overwhelming him, and he will get out of it on his own soon, lie down and switch off.
I caught the moment and helped – I used the word “uwaga” (attention) again, getting his attention (what a coincidence). I have to think about what this word is supposed to mean because I’m only introducing communication confusion this way. I can see that he is on his edge, so I make a dynamic movement with the disc and say “catch” (cue to catch). Bet bravely spits out the disk and grabs the other one, even though the command is not spoken (“next”). I didn’t use it because I expected that it might overwhelm him, and the dog would switch off.
As a reward, tugging and backhand. I reward Bet verbally.
Since he finally unlocked himself in the previous situation, and this is a breakthrough moment for him (if he gets stuck once and we manage to get out of it, he works smoothly afterwards 😉 ), when the next “next” happens, there are no problems. Again, my mistake, because honestly, I should have thrown a party, and there was a cast right away. I think tugging first would have been better.
My throw is extremely unstable, Bet is preoccupied, so there is no grip – each “failure” is taken quite personally by Bet and always results in frustration. That’s why when I say “next” again, Bet has the disc in his mouths for a while and finally, he lets go. The reward is an “omiń” (go around me) and a throw, but I point out that I will throw in a slightly different direction this time. He comes back, another next and a throw. Great, it was a safe grasp in the air, so I immediately walk in with my enjoyment 😉 I come back, and the”next” cue appears once again, Bet blocks a bit – we haven’t been tugging in a few throws, and I assume that was the reason for the jam. When he lets go, I decide to go for an easy and comfortable floater, but since it’s unstable and Bet’s out of position badly, he doesn’t catch it. Because of this, I say another “next”, and this time the floater is in front of me. Due to that, I have to step back, and the dog jumps in my direction. He catches it beautifully, and the long-deserved fun begins.
Tugging, letting him win, verbal rewards, reinforcing with touch – the whole set! It lasts over 10 seconds, then I give him the win and reach for the second disk. I say “next”, and Bet almost immediately let go of the disc. This is a huge win! He had just been playing with that disc, so it has a higher value in his eyes. And yet he lets go! We make a few quick exchanges, alternating between “next” and floaters. After three repetitions, I say “omiń” (go around me), and I throw a further floater – then tugging and verbal rewards. What a brave dog!
I grab the second disk, and spontaneously, without command, Bet lets go of the first one. I immediately give him my verbal approval and the command “omiń” (go around me). Then another disc release and another throw – and this is where the interesting thing happens. Bet catches the disc (most probably, because it’s not visible on the video) and comes back to me, but he almost bumps into me, stopping on my legs. When I set the disk to the “next” command, he tries to grab it without releasing the previous one. I automatically take the disk to myself. Beethoven sets up again, and this time, I ask him to move away from me because there is still not much of that space. And after all the fuss, I say “next”. This is a big challenge for Bet. He holds it, but he lets go eventually! He gets a well-deserved tug as a reward.
Then another “next” and a floater, as a reward, Bet wins the disc in tugging. I go a few steps further, and the situation gets interesting. Beethoven walks up to the second disc and grabs it, which means he now has two discs. I want to get out of this situation somehow, so I call him over to me with these two disks. I ask him to let go, and he follows the cue – I get two disks in my hand. I throw him a floater with one, then say “next”, and he gest the other disk when tugging. Those two discs were a signal to me that Beth has had enough. I play with him for a while, and I say the “koniec” (the end) cue.
The session is over.
At the very end, I take only the yellow, mangled disk and give it to Beethoven in exchange for the orange one because, during the break, Bet chews his discs and rolls over them. I allow him to do so, it’s his free time, but I offer another disk to limit the extent of the damage. 😉
Do you know it was only three minutes? I feel like I should break this dogfrisbee training into three parts, at least anyway. Dogs really don’t have to work long to make things happen!
First, I’m going to howl as I write this in English; I need to write down some synonyms for myself to start so I don’t repeat “say” and “throw” alternately, although I am not sure that it’s possible. Second, I have quite a few conclusions.
- By design, it was training for long-distance drops, and in three minutes, “next” was said 18 times (more or less). That’s one command every ten seconds! Jeez, Zośka, slow down! That’s a pretty brave dog that you train.
- There were too many dynamic repetitions without tugging and more reward. It’s not easy for Bet. We practice it, we try to get things slow, so there must be a lot of reinforcement.
- It’s time to finally figure out what “attention” cue actually is and why I even use it during training. Seriously.
- For every disc that Bet lets go of his own will in this context, there should be a life event. Undisputed!
- Time to set yourself a timer. I think two minutes is enough time for such demanding things. It’s better to have a shorter time and more sessions than to have your dog focus for such a long time.
- Floaters and throws need to be more steady because missing a grip due to my poor throwing just frustrates and demotivates him. Obviously, it’s harder to do it in a hurry, but I’ll try to pay more attention to it.
- A few times after the “next” cue, Bet would immediately grab the disc without my “catch” or anything else. I don’t worry about it now, as I stick to the “one criterion at a time” rule, but it’s something to pay attention to in the future.
- I had some phenomenal, quick reactions and did well on most of the challenges during practice. High five Zośka, I’m proud! Clearly, you have some experience working with dogs and dogfrisbee.
If that doesn’t convince you to record your dog training sessions, I don’t know that anything can. You can get a lot out of it! Oh, and if dog trainers have to write such elaborations regularly, I don’t envy you. I wrote this text in two parts, in two following evenings. And the English version took me another evening!
Ah, this is the first session of two in this training, but instead of the second one, I recorded the beautiful sky, birds and trees. It is basically an idyll with the sounds of Zośka’s delight in the background. That is why I am not posting it -there is nothing to post. But I have to tell you that in this second part Bet was very brave. So much so that I added to the next-throw-aport chain some turns, transitions between legs and even one over. I have a great dog!
How do you like it? Was it beneficial? Did it illuminate something? Interesting? I’m curious to know what you guys think, I put some work into it, but I also learned something myself for my future training sessions. In the next training I’ll try not to make the same mistakes 😉