A Quick Guide to Disc Dog Sports
Disc Dog sports (also known as Frisbee Dog) is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in the world. There are competitive events for dogs to compete against each other and also for them to demonstrate their ability to catch discs thrown by their handlers.
In order to compete in disc dog competitions, the dog must be trained in obedience, agility, and fly catching. A disc is thrown (usually by the handler) and the dog catches it in its mouth. The competition can consist of one or more throws depending on the event format.
The sport often consists of two elements; sending your dog to catch discs at distances over 20 meters with no limit in height, and collecting multiple discs in your dog's mouth in a fast-paced routine.
Since this is a team sport, it takes time to build the bond between the handler and their disc dog. Teamwork is essential when training for this sport, which makes it an ideal choice for all owners who want to become involved with canine activities that include working with their dogs.
This quick guide can give you a basic idea of how disc dog sports work and what it takes to get started in the sport.
What are the Types of Disc Dog Competition Formats?
The most common types of disc dog competition formats are:
- Toss and Fetch - This is a short-distance format that is also called mini-distance, throw and catch, toss and catch, and distance/accuracy. Each team has 60 seconds to complete their routine that typically consists of throwing the disc to the dog as many times as possible over an increasingly longer distance. However, the distance usually will not exceed 50 meters. Points are awarded by the distance of the catch, with mid-air catches receiving the most points.
- Freestyle - In freestyle disc dog, each team competes in rounds that last between 1 and a half minutes to 2 minutes. The goal for teams in freestyle disc dog is to dazzle the crowd with canine athleticism, degree of difficulty, showmanship, etc. The handler is allowed to direct the dog's movement during their routine. Since it is a subjectively judged sport, the team that wins is the one that commands the greatest awe from spectators. This is one of the most exciting disc dog formats, as it puts the team's skill and training to the ultimate test.
- Long-Distance (Quadruped Series) - Considered to be the first disc dog format that began as an NFL half-time show, long-distance disc dog competitions require the dog to catch discs at increasing distances up to 80 meters. Triathlons are also a very popular long-distance event that has become very competitive in recent years.
Types of Disc Dog Competitions
Ashley Whippet Invitational
Known as the Canine Frisbee Disc World Championship (also called the World Finals Championship) is the crowning event for this sport. Since 2002, the Ashley Whippet Invitational has been recognized as the world championship of disc dog sports and is hosted by Disc Dog Central (DDC). Teams from around the world compete every year to take home top honors and be crowned World Champions.
The Ashley Whippet Invitational consists of two rounds: one freestyle and one toss and catch. To move on to the next round, the scores from both events are combined into one final score.
The Skyhoundz competition began in 2000 and has quickly grown to the largest disc dog event in terms of event size and the number of competitors. It consists of competitions for both newbies and the pros, where teams compete individually as well as on their respective club's team together with teammates. Each year the events change slightly to keep things new and exciting for current and previous performers.
The Skyhoundz competition consists of either of the following qualifying events:
- Two 60-second rounds of distance/accuracy
- One 90-second round of freestyle and one 60-second round of distance/accuracy
For each competition format, winners are determined by the combined scores in both rounds.
The UFO World Cup Series is an international disc dog competition that consists of three events: the world qualifiers, world finals, and UFO Europe. It is a yearly competition that always takes place in August or September.
The UpDog Challenge is a competition focused more on the fun aspects of disc dog sports. Unlike other competitions, UpDog allows disc rolls on the ground which encourages puppies and humans with limited throwing capabilities to participate.
There are several areas for teams to compete both with discs and in agility competitions. Awards are given to the top-performing individuals and teams at each event.
How to Get Started with Disc Dog Training
The most important aspect of disc dog training is to first teach your pup basic obedience commands. When they are in competitions, they must be able to understand and perform basic commands on cue. Once your dog is able to understand basic commands such as "sit," "stay," and "come," you will want to learn how to throw a disc correctly.
However, not all dogs immediately understand the concept of the game, and some breeds are better suited for Disc Dog than others. A dog may not instinctively know to turn and chase after a disc that is thrown over its head. To begin, the disc should be thrown straight to the dog at a short distance. Once a dog knows how to catch, it can learn the additional concept of running and jumping to catch the disc. The disc should be thrown at gradually increasing heights until it finally goes over the dog's head. At that point, the dog instinctively follows the disc.
Disc dog training can be done with club members or friends who have well-trained dogs that have been competing for some time, but it is important not to rely too heavily on others. Eventually, you will want to train your dog to compete against other dogs that are at higher levels of the sport, which means that training must be done without help from others.
Choosing the Right Disc for Catching Dogs
The ultimate characteristic of a disc that is able to be caught by dogs is that it floats in water. Also, since dogs are unable to grasp the discs between two fingers as humans can, there are some special characteristics on the underside of the disc which work for easy grabbing.
There are two types of discs that have been developed specifically for disc dog training and catching. One is a soft disc made from a rubbery material with a slanted edge, which makes it easy to catch by the dog's teeth without worrying about hurting their mouth. Another type is a lightweight version of a frisbee made from plastic.
A disc is not designed to be thrown or caught on concrete or asphalt surfaces. The discs are made of lightweight materials with specific weight distributions which allow them to fly in the air without offering too much resistance. These qualities make them easy for dogs to catch, but throwing and catching the discs on hard surfaces impacts their durability over time.
As you enter competitions, it is important to be aware that each competition may only allow certain types of discs. The disc that you choose to take to a competition should be one that is approved by the sanctioning body for that event.
How to Prepare Yourself and Your Dog for Competition
One important aspect of dog training is teaching your pup how to react in various situations. For example, when the team approaches the start line at competitions, there are often several other teams in the area. Your dog should be taught how to properly react when other dogs are nearby, which will allow you to avoid accidents that could lead to disqualification.
Other important aspects of disc dog training are teaching your pup not to eat random objects it finds on the ground and avoiding distractions while running for discs. First, your dog should be taught to avoid eating random objects it comes across, such as rocks and sticks. Second, your dog should be trained not to look around when you give the cue to compete.
Training for Disc Dog Competitions
Before entering a competition, you must train yourself and your dog how to compete in that specific event. Each type of disc dog competition has its own rules, so it is important to read the rules carefully before entering an event.
As your dog becomes more developed, you can work on developing its speed by regularly practicing running for the disc. Once your dog knows how to catch and run for discs, you should train it on catching as many as possible in a row.
You should also develop your dog's strength by training it to lift its paws off the ground while running and grabbing discs. Additionally, work on improving your timing with your dog by throwing the disc at the same time you give a verbal command.