Frequently Asked Questions
There are three keys here for this specific sport. – General health, and athleticism – Behavior, obedience and attitude – Prey Drive
Freestyle and Distance are the two main event categories. Though there are several commonly recognized variations on rules, those are the two main events areas for competition.
Mini-Distance is often called Throw & Catch or Toss & Fetch. A grid of approximately 50 yards in length with marks (or lines) at 10 yard increments represents the throwing area. As a general rule, all catches must be made inside this area and points are accumulated for each ten yards further the catch is made. This is usually a Timed Event allowing only 60-90 seconds to complete as many successful disc throws with a single disc as possible in the allotted time. Additional factors of whether the disc is caught in the air, inside specified targets, etc. are sometimes additional elements depending on the event rules. This is the primary “Beginner” event, but additionally, a critical skill at all levels of competition. Strategy is a big part too, as generally, throws beyond the max distance (usually 50 yards) do NOT get major points, but do take the dog much longer to return and run a higher risk of missing of not getting off the maximum number of throws in that allotted time.
Much the same as Mini Distance, but there is no limit on maximum distance and often no time limits, but your do progress through elimination heats and usually only get three throws per round.
What is Freestyle? Freestyle is the more advanced handler and canine aspect of competing and what is often imagined by many who have seen our dogs on TV or Film. This is a series of segments that the team conditions, trains and practices diligently to perform in a coordinated series with accomponying musical score. The Freestyle incorportates many elements of obedience, hunt and prey drive, frisbee skill and athletic ability. The result is a combination of canine dance, flying catches, vaults, flips and intense control under a very tight time limit and musical cues. See “Common Stunts” for some examples of individual stunts performed in these routines. It is HIGHLY advisable to ask your local club or here on the Forums about specifics of teaching your dog these movements.
Frisbee type can be a large factor. The most common disc used in the sport is a 107 gram fastback. This disc is fairly light and soft. However, it also wears quickly. So it is important to clean and remove (or sand off) all new burrs after use. A large number of alternate discs “for dogs” are on the market. The floppy discs are great for training new dogs and pups regarding retrieving, but should not be used beyond this aspect of playing with your best friend. Likewise, some of the HARD discs are not suitable and even potentially dangerous. The Dog’s experience has some impact on this also as they improve their retrieval, but still, a disc in poor condition or of unsuitable type can still cause some injury. Temperature: Cold makes risk of disc cuts higher. Hot weather, the tongue swells. Water (or even ice chips) remove the cut immediately normally. Examine your canine to ensure, it is not anything more than a tongue cut. STOP playing if the bleeding is anything more than spotting or you have any doubts. Always place the canines health first.
First and Foremost! Consult your vetinarian and ensure your canine has a full check up and the vet is aware of your intentions. Pay particular attention to joints and overall health, age and safe ability of your dog. Dogs under 14 months or over 50 pounds are both at risk to injury. Get involved in your local Disc and Dog Club. The sport is spreading fast around the world, from Holland to Japan. Check our LINKS page for one close to you, OR, if there is not, then you may want to start your own. All the best clubs are started by people just like you, who love thier dogs and love this sport!
We want the reward to be the playing of Frisbee itself! So, next time, issue the command to drop the Frisbee, and simply wait until she does. Go to the extreme of pretending to actually ignore her, or even that you are not any longer interested in playing. The moment she drops, then praise her to no end and make a big deal of the fact that she dropped it and can now get the reward of another throw. It may take you a few days to get this point across to her, but she will catch on soon.
You are never too green to put together a routine! First thing you need to do is sit down with a piece of paper and make two lists; 1. All the different moves that you and Stella can do today. No matter how easy or difficult, list them. Next, make another list of the moves that you would like to learn to complete your routine. Now, you know what you can do, and what you need to learn to do. Next, make sure all of your moves have names to them that both you and Stella will be able to relate to. Now, take these moves and think about how you would like to choreograph your routine. The two most important issues beyond whether you have a high percentage of hitting the move, is where will the dog be coming from (what move did you just complete) and where will the dog end up? Also, where will your Frisbees be when the dog is through catching 4 or 5 of them? You would like to keep you discs in a pattern for ease of picking them up. Also, have a tendency to put the more physically demanding moves at the beginning of your routine while Stella is still fresh and strong. If you notice, I put all of Aero’s back flips and more difficult tricks in the beginning of our routine and save the easier stuff for her for the end so she can perform them without injuring herself and keeping the high percentage of completion going all the way through the end of our routine.
This is obviously going to be a personal taste thing. I would suggest you don’t use rap, bad country, nor music with offensive language in the lyrics. The music should complement the speed of your dog. Also, I tend to prefer music that doesn’t have lyrics so that I am just playing to the music only. Sometimes that can be better for you. I would suggest that you start listening to every song you hear and mentally try to envision you and Stella playing to that song. Last, but not least, buy a boom box and start playing to different songs at each practice. You’ll get used to playing to music, so will Stella, and you will get a better idea of what might compliment the two of you.
The first thing to keep in mind is the age and condition of the dog. Young dogs should be brought along slowly so that they develop their physical skills. On older dogs, be careful not to over exert them beyond their abilities. After that, it is just getting out there and trying it. All competitions have novice level categories, and you should take the opportunity to get your feet wet as soon as possible.
Though canines will at times prove the following statement incorrect, please be aware that certain “guides” and a matter of physics apply. Dogs over 50 pounds, juvenile, or old, should not be involved in the very strenuous freestyle elements of the sport. Extremely small breeds need little explanation though probably. After all, if the disc is bigger than they are!
The “Toss & Fetch”, or Mini Distance events have many larger dogs. The Freestyle events are not recommended for young dogs, large breeds or those with possible hip dysplasia tendencies.
You bet! In fact the majority of competitions allow a smaller disc to be used for dogs under certain size constraints. Regardless of whether you want to compete or just play, many small breed love this sport as much as there larger cousins. As always, common sense prevails and certain stunts or activities are not possible (by shear physics in some cases) by the smaller furry ones. The best advice? Try it out!
Though many assume that herding breeds make the best Frisbee Dogs, the fact is the sport is fairly new and that many various breeds have shown incredible ability. That said… The canine’s temperament, “prey drive” and behavior, are the real keys.
The “Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog” book claims dogs digest raw diets in 2 hrs, and cereal diets in 3-4 hrs. Depending on the quality; by digest I mean out of the stomach and into the intestine. Another interesting fact from “Peak Performance-Coaching the Canine Athlete” states a study done at Purdue University found that dogs exercised before and after eating did NOT have an increased rate of gastric torsion (bloat). It’s caused by a gas build up causing the stomach to twist and block off blood flow. Certain breeds are predisposed.
The risks to a dogs health in Disc Dog activities are very real, BUT far LESS than most any other activities short of walks around the block. You can greatly reduce these risks by adding conditioning and reading the general guidlelines we encourage for Disc Dog activity below.
By age 14 months, canines bone structure had matured sufficiently to be considered satisfactory to perform more rigorous athletic feats. I have to research the exact bone and muscle names (I cant recall off hand) to complete this answer correctly.
This is as varied as the dogs and handlers themselves. The MOST IMPORTANT advice: READ THE INGREDIENTS! It’s important to note that if the first ingredients are CORN, CORN MEAN, CHICKEN BY PRODUCTS, that is all filler, and dogs don’t eat corn! It is most important to consider protein, carbs, poly saturated fats and raw fats for the over all health and condition of your dog. Though foods like Flint River Ranch, Pet Smart Baked and IAMS cost more, the dog does not need to eat as mush, prefers them, and they will very likely save on big vet bills that are more likely with bargain brands over years. Food for thought: In 1972, the average number of shots a puppy received in it’s first 6 months was TWO. Now it can be over forty!!! A reflection of how the overall immune systems of our dogs have come under attack and degraded. So, diet is critical!
Sit ups, Stand and stay, long walks, runs, basic obedience, hurdles or hoops for leaps, etc.
Room Temp Water Additional suggestions (not instead of), Ice Chips, Water soaked towel, Alcahol on Foot Pads, Brushing (helps circulation), fans (airflow), shade.
The kit contains: scissors, biocaine lotion, gauze pads, alcohol prep pads, cold pack, coflex, povidone-iodine ointment, magnifying glass, gloves, opticlear eye wash, emergency blanket, iodine prep solution, tweezers, gauze rolls, triple antibiotic ointment, and a first aid guide.
A Leg Over is one of the most basic and easiest to learn stunts for new dogs. Description: The canine leaps over your leg, catching the disc in flight
Description: This is the most common “Vault” in Freestyle use and often the first taught to aspiring Disc Dogs. Progressing from the “Knee Over”, the Dog leaps and bonces up and forward off the handlers knee to retrieve the disc in flight from a short toss. Now you are looking at Vaults, REMEMBER: the Dog should be OVER 14 months and UNDER 50 pounds, and be in great shape! Variants: Clockwise and Counterclockwise From a Stay From a run up
Description: One of the most dramtic Vaults in common use in FReestyle. The Back Vault is pretty much as it sounds like. The dog leaps and bounces (Vaults) off the handlers back to retrieve an in flight disc. REMEMBER: the Dog should be OVER 14 months and UNDER 50 pounds, and be in great shape! This Vault should ONLY be taught by experienced handlers. Variants: From Stay From Run up From the Side From the Rear From the Front (reverse) Kneeling Standing
A truly eye popping stunt! Description: The dog leaps and bounces off the handlers chest, flipping while airborne to retrieve the disc. REMEMBER: the Dog should be OVER 14 months and UNDER 50 pounds, and be in great shape! This Vault should ONLY be taught by experienced handlers. Variants: Details: Lesson Here URL Chest Vault Another popular standar in Freestyle Description: The dog leaps and Vaults off of the handlers chest, either over the shoulder or across the body to retrieve the disc in flight. REMEMBER: the Dog should be OVER 14 months and UNDER 50 pounds, and be in great shape! This Vault should ONLY be taught by experienced handlers. Variants: From the Stay From a run up Lateral Vertical
A real crowd-pleaser and excellent example of control by both handler and canine. Description: The dog sits or stands in place on the handlers back. Some advanced teams even perform a series of catches while the dog stands or sits on the back of the handler. Variants: Dog is actually caught on the back or lands there and stays Reverse (Facing backwards)
The canines own spotlight! Description: The dog Flips up and over and lands while catching the disc in flight. These flips can be spectacular and allow a huge amount of variation in throws, grips and possibilities for the dogs own approach. REMEMBER: the Dog should be OVER 14 months and UNDER 50 pounds, and be in great shape!
The Frisbee fastback is the disc of choice and most widely used. It is made of a soft plastic with rounded edges that are easy on the dogs mouth. The length of play you get out of a disc is determined by your dogs bite. When Phoebe is excited to play a disc lasts about 3-4 throws, this is atypical because she has an extremely hard bite. I think most people get multiple practice sessions out of them depending on how long you practice and how many discs you use during the practice session. You can buy new and used discs from the club.
Basic check off of Water, etc
Tie down, Crate, Water, Towel, Discs (New Condition), Vet papers showing shots, etc
There are several (I don’t know all of them), but avoid discs that are very heavy, hard or brittle, or have jagged or rough edges.
Training leashes, obstacles and hurdles, yard markers…
Unlike some other canine activities, like Lure Coursing or Herding Trails, most Disc Dog events take place near cities or at large gatherings of crowds and animals. The competitor canines are often extremely intense in their prey drive during these. The crate allows the dog a “safety zone” of their own, without distraction of other dogs, people, or animals. Additionally, in the often crowded environment, it removes the risk of the canines natural tendency to test dominance of other nearby dogs (no fighting). Consequently, it assures a safe place for them to rest and avoid stress, so they can enjoy their day in the park too!