Teaching Your Dog to Love Frisbee
Teaching your dog to play with a Frisbee can be a great source of exercise and fun for you and your pet.
Bob Evans, Paul West and Ping Latvong are three of the world's top dog Frisbee trainers, and they competed in this year's Alpo Canine Frisbee World Championship with their dogs – Nick, Super Sport and Sassy. Here's how they say you can get your pet into the sport.
- Visit your veterinarian for a thorough check-up before you start because canine Frisbee can be vigorous exercise for your dog.
- Any healthy, active dog can learn to catch a Frisbee. Many champions are border collies, but mixed breeds and dogs rescued from shelters have become some of the most successful Frisbee dogs.
- Let your dog warm up before any workout and always have fresh water on hand.
- Practice on a grassy area and check for broken glass and holes first. Avoid asphalt, concrete and gravel, which can be hard on your dog's joints and paws.
- Give lots of praise and never yell at your dog if he is unable to catch the Frisbee.
- Keep training sessions short. You should stop before your dog gets bored so the experience is always fun.
- Don't let your dog chew on the Frisbee.
- Get your dog comfortable with the Frisbee by using it as a food or water bowl. This technique works with puppies and adult dogs. It allows them to associate the disc with something positive.
- Slowly substitute the Frisbee for another toy that your dog likes, adding to your dog's comfort level with the disc.
Ready, Set, Go
- Start off by sliding the Frisbee back and forth on the ground in front of your dog while encouraging him to get the disc. Let him take it out of your hand.
- Move on to rolling the Frisbee on the ground and encouraging your dog to chase it. After he has the Frisbee, don't pull it from him. Offer praise.
- When your dog is interested in playing with the Frisbee, toss it and let him chase. Keep the tosses short so the Frisbee stays clearly visible as an attractive object to retrieve.
- At this point, be careful not to throw the Frisbee directly at your dog, so he is not afraid of the disc.
- Stand about three feet in front of your dog, gently toss the Frisbee in the air and say "Catch." If he catches it, give him lots of praise. If he doesn't catch it, pick it up off the ground yourself. The catch should be the reward.
- Stand to the right of your dog (if you are right-handed) and toss the Frisbee in front of you, the same short distance. This will teach the dog to move to the Frisbee instead of waiting for it to come to him.
- Once your dog is comfortable catching short throws, make your tosses longer.
- Get your dog used to retrieving the Frisbee by attaching a long leash to his collar. If he does not return the Frisbee to you, give the leash a gentle tug.
- Do not ask your dog to leap until he has physically matured (1 or 2 years). Hold the disc above his head and say "Jump" and let go when he grabs the disc.
A great canine Frisbee on the market is the called hyperflite. It's made from a special puncture-resistant material that will withstand all the punishment your dog's teeth can dish out. Dogs destroy other discs after just a few throws, but this disc will really last.