Disc, Frisbee, Disc, Frisbee…
Is it called a disc or frisbee? A frisbee is actually one kind of flying disc as well a registered trademark of the toy company, Wham-O!, that first popularized the flying disc. Disc is the term used in the dog world, and thus the sport is called disc dog.
What Is Disc Dog?
Disc dog is a popular dog sport that anyone can teach to their dog. Dog handlers must train their dog to catch a frisbee, either at a short distance, long distance or in a freestyle jump.
The best thing about disc dog is that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or spend a lot to on some starter discs. You can also go pretty much anywhere you want to play with your dog.
Dogs That Will Love Disc
Dogs are not picky. Most will love playing with a disc, to chase, tug or chew up. No matter what they will be happy.
However, dogs that love balls or have a strong herding instinct or prey drive will love this sport the most! They already love the chase and will have no problem going after a flying disc. They’ll go by instincts.
How To Get Started
It is best to get at least 2 discs for your dog. We recommend discs made specifically for dogs, such as those made by Hyperflite or Hero Disc USA. Puppies or dogs just getting into disc dog should learn to fetch and retrieve with a soft toy or soft disc. The last thing you would want to do is to hit your dog with a hard frisbee and turn them off the sport altogether. For more advanced play, you can get a vest so your dog can jump off you while doing tricks.
TEACH YOUR DOG TO PLAY FRISBEE OR DISC
- Comfort First.
Before you begin, make sure your dog is comfortable with the disc. Place the disc on the ground and let your dog sniff the disc. Hold and waive the disc around to make it fun and interesting. Then, slide the disc on the ground to make it even more interesting. Reward your dog with treats or praise every time he goes after or touches the disc. You want to let him know that it’s good to go after a disc!
- Love the Chase.
Now that your dog is comfortable with a moving disc, teach him to chase it. With disc in hand, lure your dog around you and reward when he goes after the disc. You may have to hold and waive the disc again to make it interesting and fun. Repeat this exercise a few times.
Next, try tossing the disc a few feet away from you with the flat side down (edges curled up). Give your dog a command word such as “take it” or “get it” and reward him when he goes after the disc. You can use any command but be clear and consistent in its use. You can also try rolling the disc on the floor if that will excite your dog more. The goal is simply to get your dog to love the chase and not to discourage him.
Since your dog is still getting used to a disc, you really want to make playtime interesting. Keep sessions at 5-10 minutes so you keep your dog wanting to play more! When your dog “loves the chase” add in a sit before you allow your dog to go after something.
- Fetch & Retrieve.
Roll the disc on the ground like a wheel and reward your dog when he goes after and picks up the disc with his mouth. Don’t forget to use your command word for him to go after the disc. Once your dog has the disc in his mouth, enthusiastically call him over to you by saying “come” or “touch” and reward with a treat.
Practice alternating between disc rolls and short disc tosses with the flat side down. Encourage your dog to go after the disc and then reward him when he comes back to you.
If your dog is not treat motivated, you may want to use a second disc to entice your dog to come to you and drop the first disc. You may also want to use a long leash if your dog has trouble with recall or practice more recall exercises at a short distance.
- Drop & Reward.
By now, your dog should love to fetch and retrieve the disc. You may be running into a problem in that he does not freely drop the disc when he comes back to you.
It’s important to make your dog realize that you will not continue to play until he drops the first disc. Play will only continue when he gives you the first disc, but in exchange for the second.
When your dog has a disc in his mouth, lure your dog with a second disc and ask him to “drop” or “give” his disc to you. If you hold the first disc do so gently so that you do not tug. As soon as your dog drops his disc, say “good” or “yes” and give him the second disc.
Now, let your dog play for awhile with the second disc and exchange discs again. If your dog does not give you the disc, try waiving the second disc around or make some noise to get your dog’s attention. You want to make yourself and the second disc interesting. Always remember to say your command and reward immediately after.
Stop play and turn away if your dog does not drop the first item and continue again in a short while. This signals to your dog that you will only play with him if he gives you the disc in exchange for the second. You have to be patient in this step and keep sessions short. Instead of a second disc, you can also use a rewarding treat and slowly phase that out into a second disc.
- Grab & Catch
In order for your dog to catch a disc, he needs to learn to jump and grab the disc with his mouth.
Ask your dog to sit. Hold the disc out level to your dog’s mouth and ask him to “take” or “get” the disc. Once your dog grabs the disc tell him “yes” and let him play with the disc. Now, ask your dog to drop the disc and take the disc back.
Slowly increase the difficulty of grabbing by raising the disc higher up until your dog has to jump to catch the disc. Then, walk and lure your dog to take the disc as your are walking so he has to jump and catch in motion.
- Throw & Catch
Not every dog will catch a disc the first time. Learning the foundations above will help your dog catch a disc but it does take a lot of practice until your dog really masters this. There are a few exercises that you can practice with your dog. Don’t forget to use your command words to have your dog “take” or “get” the disc.
- Hold a disc with your dog at one side and lure him halfway around you. Then, throw the disc for your dog to catch.
- You can practice throwing the disc, food, balls, and other toys a short distance in front of your dog’s face. Increase the speed and make your dog learn to focus and catch.
- If you have a lot of discs, you can alternate holding discs from your right and left hands. I may be easier to be kneeling or sitting while you do this. Hold out a disc in your right hand and have your dog “take” the disc. While your dog goes for the disc, grab a disc from your stack in your left hand and ask your dog to drop the first disc and go for the second disc. When your dog is comfortable with this, start throwing the disc a short distance for him to catch.
Over time, you should increase the distance of your throw when your dog is consistently catching the disc. You can also increase the height of the throws over time. Make it even more interesting by adding in your own tricks and freestyle moves!
Related Pawtivities: Play Frisbee, Disc Roller, Running Catch (Disc), Ultimate Frisbee
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