rec.pets.dogs: Canine Activities: Frisbee Dogs FAQ

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Kevin Robair

May 21, 2006, 12:23:13 AM5/21/06
Archive-name: dogs-faq/activities/frisbee

Last-modified: 07 Apr 1997

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Frisbee Dog FAQ

!!! Copyright Notice

This FAQ is maintained by The National Capital Air Canines. The
National Capital Air Canines reserve all rights to copy and modify
this document. You may distribute this document freely upon three
conditions: 1. No alterations are made to this document. 2. No fee is
charged for the distribution of this document. 3. This notice is
maintained within the distributed copy. In other words, you may give
it away for free as long as you don't alter the contents or this
copyright notice. Enjoy!


Frisbee(R) is a registered trademark and brand name of Mattel, Inc.
ALPO(R) and Friskies(R) are registered trademarks of the Friskies
PetCare Company, Inc.


Comments are welcome! Send to: National Capital Air Canines -

Version History

3-31-97 Version 1.0

Contents. What is in this FAQ?

* 1 Types of Frisbee Dog Events
+ 1.1 Fetch and Catch ( aka Mini-Distance )
+ 1.2 Freestyle ( aka Freeflight )
+ 1.3 Accuracy
+ 1.4 Long Distance
* 2 Basic Training Guide
+ 2.1 Starting out
+ 2.2 Basic Fetch and Retrieve
+ 2.3 Dropping the disc
+ 2.4 Jumping
* 3 Equipment
+ 3.1 Discs
+ 3.2 Sandpaper
+ 3.3 Traffic Cones
+ 3.4 Tape Measure
+ 3.5 Protection
* 4 Clubs
* 5 Organizations
* 6 Resources
+ 6.1 Books
+ 6.2 Videos
+ 6.3 Training and Routine Creation CD-ROM
+ 6.4 Training Material
+ 6.5 Where to buy discs

1. Types of Frisbee Dog Events

1.1 Catch and Retrieve ( Known as "Mini-Distance" in ALPO events )

The catch and retrieve event is the backbone of most Frisbee dog
events. It consists of a timed round where teams, which consist of one
dog and one thrower, attempt to make as many successful throws/catches
as possible before time runs out. Generally, the field is a rectangle
laid out with lines representing distances from the throwing line,
much like a football field with the throwing line being the end zone.
Teams score more points for longer throw/catch combinations. Usually
only one disc may be used. Rounds usually last one minute.

1.2 Freestyle ( Known as "Freeflight" in ALPO events )

While catch and retrieve is the most common event, and the easiest for
beginners, the most spectacular and fun to watch canine Frisbee event
is freestyle. This event consists of a timed routine, usually
performed to music. The routine is a choreographed presentation of
tricks that involve, many different types of throws and catches. Some
of the more spectacular tricks involve the dog leaping off the leg or
back of the thrower and catching a disc that is tossed high in the air
for the dog. Other tricks have the dog doing a half backflip combined
with a half twist while catching a disc tossed over their head from
the front (don't worry if you can't picture it, just go to an event
with freestyle and see for yourself! ). The tricks one sees in
freestyle are only limited by the creativity of the performers.

1.3 Accuracy

This event is currently available only at National Capital Air Canines
sponsored competitions. While similar to catch and fetch, the targets
are not yard markers on a field, but four circles of various sizes
placed at various distances on a field. The further away a circle is,
the more points awarded for a catch within that circle.

1.4 Long Distance

Occasionally, the National Capital Air Canines sponsor a long distance
competition. This event is just what it sounds like. Thrower and dog
must be behind the start line when the disc is released, and the point
at which the dog catches the disc is marked. Throwers usually are
given two throws. The longest throw/catch wins. This is a fun event
and hopefully other clubs and groups will begin to add it to their
event categories.

2. Basic Training Guide

( Also, refer to the Resources section for more detailed training
guides )

2.1 Starting Out

Important. Consult your veterinarian before starting your dog on any
form of athletic training program. You should verify that your pup has
good hips, especially before attempting canine Frisbee, or else a
potential problem of canine Hip Dysplasia could be aggravated.

Also Important. ALWAYS have water available for your dog while you are
training them. Since dogs do not sweat, but expell heat primarily
through their mouth and tongues, drinking water helps them cool down.
Failure to provide water to a working dog can result in hyperthermia,
which can be fatal.

The most important step in starting out is choosing the right dog! If
this step is done right, then everything else is easy. One way to go
about it is to acquire a pure-bred puppy of a breed that is known to
do well at canine disc. The drawbacks to this method are that it costs
money, you cannot really know how the pup will turn out, and you have
to wait a year or more before the dog is able to train rigorously.

The second method of finding a good disc dog is to go to a shelter or
rescue group and adopt an adult dog. This allows you to get to know
the dog and test it for Frisbee aptitude. If the dog shows some
interest in chasing the disc, then there is a good chance they will be
a faithful, enthusiastic dog Frisbee partner. The other up side to
this method is that it is cheaper, and often the bond of a rescued dog
is stronger than that of a dog raised from puppyhood.

Ideally, you want a dog with the following characteristics:

-Adult weight between 30 - 50 pounds.
-Lean build.
-Strong retrieval and tracking/chasing instincts
-Even temperament ( They will be off-lead with other dogs )
-Sound hips

Another important step toward good Frisbee dog training is basic
obedience. The main point of this class should be to teach the owner,
not the dog. Once an owner gets a feel for teaching basic obedience,
then teaching Frisbee comes naturally.

Once you have a dog, here are a few things to do ( and not do! ) when
beginning Frisbee training:

1. Throw the disc on the ground, rolling it like a wheel. This will
allow the dog to get used to chasing it without a bad experience of
possibly getting hit by a flying disc.
2. Allow the dog to have fun, and don't worry too much if they lose
interest and/or don't bring the disc back.
3. Use a happy voice and try to convince your dog this is the best
thing since Doggy Biscuits. Always make Frisbee training an extra
special time.
4. Dogs who are not interested in the disc may be enticed to play with
it by sliding the disc on the ground in circles in front of the dog.
They will pounce on the disc, and when they do, throw a roller and the
dog should follow it. Some trainers will actually rub the disc lightly
along the dogs torso to entice them to bite at it, but care should be
taken not to cause the dog to associate fear with the disc, so make
sure you talk to your dog with a happy, reassuring voice while doing
this step.
5. Put the discs away when you are not there. You dog should realize
the disc is a special toy that is only available when you are there.

1. DO NOT throw the disc directly at the dog. You want to avoid
hitting the dog with the disc, especially in the face. Doing so could
result in the dog developing a fear of the disc.
2. DO NOT push the dog to hard, to the point it is no longer having
fun. If your pooch loses interest, then quit for now and start when
you are both fresh.
3. DO NOT encourage a dog under 14 months to leap. The stress of
landing can damage a dog that is not fully developed. If a young dog
is a reckless leaper, then keep your throws low. Concerned owners can
request that their veterinarian take x-rays to determine if their
dog's growth plates have closed and they can begin jumping.

( Remember, if both you and your pup are not having fun, then you are
trying too hard! )

2.2 Basic Fetch and Retrieve

Once your dog is going for the disc, it is time to encourage them to
bring it back to you. For this, the long training lead is the best
tool. Purchase or make your own 30'+ lead and put it on your dog. Then
play as usual, only when the dog grabs the disc, call the dog and reel
them in, all the while praising them. Make sure the lead is not
attached to anything and that you are not holding onto it when the dog
chases the disc. Only grab the lead when the disc is picked up and the
retrieve should begin.

What if my dog drops the disc when I start pulling it in?
-Stop reeling right away, go and get the disc and start playing with
the dog and disc. Eventually they should get the idea that you want
the disc brought to you.

What if my dog resists the retrieval?
-If this is happening, then you need to work on recalls with your dog
without the disc being present. If your dog does not come when called,
then you cannot expect them to do so when they are distracted by a
toy! A good obedience class does more for the owner than for the dog.
In it you will learn basic training techniques that you can apply to
canine disc.

Once your pup is returning the disc, the next step is to get them to
catch it in the air. Unless your dog is already trying to catch the
disc, care should be taken when throwing it for them. Keep the disc
from flying in the direction of the dog, as it may hit them and cause
them to be mistrustful of the disc. Do not be discouraged if your dog
does not immediately take to the airborne catch. Some dogs take many
months to establish the coordination needed to catch the Frisbee in
mid-flight. Use low, flat trajectories to give your dog the best

2.3 Dropping the disc

One commonly asked question is "How to I get my dog to drop the disc?"
Well, a reliable "Drop!" command is very important to any canines well
being, so try teaching your pup to drop anything they have. You can do
this several ways. Perhaps the best is to tell your dog "drop", point
to the ground, and have something else in your hand the dog wants,
such as another disc, a toy, or perhaps occasionally a treat. When the
dog drops what they are holding, praise them and then give them the
other item. After the dog gets the idea, begin to "forget" to give
them the other item, but keep praising them. Soon, the drop command
will be automatic. For dogs that are not too stubborn, it is possible
to teach the drop by squeezing the jaw joint gently and saying drop
until the item is dropped. Then praise and maybe even give the item
back to show that you want them to drop it, but don't plan to take
away their toy forever.

2.4 Jumping

Care should be taken when training your dog to jump. When a dog leaps,
it should land flat, so that all four legs absorb part of the impact.
Many Frisbee dogs jump and land vertically, and this can stress the
rear legs and spine. The canine knee is not designed to absorb
vertical force, and a tear of one of the knee ligament is more likely
in a vertical landing, especially if a dog is twisting at the same
time. Try training your dog to jump by teaching them to jump through a
hula hoop, or some other device that will not hurt them if they crash
into it. This will force the dog the get their butts up in the air
during a leap and land flat. Remember that young dogs, under 14
months, should not be encouraged to jump.

3. Equipment

3.1 Discs


Here are several key characteristics of flying discs:
1. Shape
2. Weight
3. Material
The ideal canine disc is light, thin, and made of soft but rigid
material Types Flexible/Floppy Flexible/Floppy discs are great for
starting out, for dogs that have dental problems, or show dogs that
cannot afford the slightest risk of a broken tooth. While tennis balls
and bones pose more risk of tooth damage than Fastback Frisbee discs,
some folks may still want to use these flexible types:

1. Floppy Disc
A cloth/nylon disc with a rubber outer ring. Nice because they float!

2. Nylabone
These are closer to 'regulation' than Floppy Discs, and are probably
just as safe. Be aware that there are some version of the Nylabone
disc that are harder than others. Make sure you get the flexible,
rubbery type. Note that there is a Gumabone model with a bone shape
extending out of the top of the disc. While safe and easy for dogs to
pick up, these discs fly like bricks.

3 Frisbee Fastback
This is the disc of choice for most Frisbee dog enthusiasts. The
Fastback Frisbee disc is a 107 gram disc made out of a soft PVC type
plastic that a person can actually mar with a fingernail quite easily.
They don't last as long as the harder types you can find in pet
stores, but that means they are less damaging to the dog's teeth.

4 Other discs
Any other discs used should be soft, have no protrusions, and should
not be much heavier than 110 grams. In other words, the hard, generic
'doggie discs' one can sometimes find in pet stores or be given as
promotional items should be avoided, as should 185 gram freestyle
discs and especially golf discs. Finally, any flying object with a
metal core, such as the Aerobie flying ring should not be used in dog

3.2 Sandpaper

If you are using plastic discs, you need to maintain them. Keep them
clean, since dirt on a spinning disc acts just like sandpaper on your
dog's teeth. The dishwasher is a great place to clean discs! Also, the
disc should be kept smooth. As a disc is used, it develops cuts and
sharp dings that can cut your dog's mouth. Rather than simply throw
them out, try sanding them:

Flexible Sanding Block

This tool can be found at any hardware store. It is a foam block that
is covered with sandpaper, and easily conforms to the shape of a disc.
It is better than regular sandpaper since it is not affected as much
by water ( or dog slobber! )

Plumber's "Cloth"

This is 'sandpaper' for copper and pvc pipe. It comes in a roll of 1
inch wide "cloth" and can be easily torn into small pieces and used as
needed. Since it is designed for plumber's, it is nearly impervious to
water and slobber.

3.3 Cones

If you plan on competing with your dog, even if you you do not plan to
be a serious competitor, you may want to purchase some some orange
cones to mark off the scoring distances when you practice. This will
give you a better idea of where the distances are that will give you a
higher score. Cones can be found at toy or sporting goods stores.

3.4 Measuring Tape

You can buy a crank type, 30 yard plastic measuring tape at most
hardware stores. These are far easier to use than the retractable
metal measuring tapes most folks are familiar with.

3.5 Protection

Once a dog and owner get serious about dog Frisbee, they begin to
train for freestyle routines, where dogs may leap off the bodies of
the thrower. If you try this without thinking, you will find out just
how much damage a 50 pound canine can do leaping off a human's back,
even if the dogs nail's have been trimmed, and the thrower is wearing
a sweatshirt!

_Neoprene _

Fortunately, there is neoprene!


The best protection you can get is a neoprene diving vest. It protects
the entire upper torso, and is easy to get on and off. They can be
pricey, but they have been found at Wall-Mart for under $30. Remember,
you don't need a very thick one (2mm is usually sufficient). Often
Dive Shops sell their used rental vests cheap.

Thigh wraps

Normally used for thigh support, these thigh wraps are great
protection for when your dog jumps off your thigh. They can be found
at most sporting goods stores.

Waist Pad

The neoprene waist wrap is usually sold with the idea that it will
help the wearer lose weight via sweating. While water loss is not true
weight loss, these wraps are nevertheless great extra protection for
when your dog missed a vault and lands a little lower than the diver's
vest. These can be found right next to the thigh pads in most sporting
good stores.

Safety Goggles

Don't forget to wear some form of eye protection if your dog does
serious vaults. If a dog misses or thinks it may fall, it will try to
grab/stand on anything they can get their paws on, including your
face. Also, a vaulting dog is usually moving very quickly, and they
can flail their legs as they fly by.

4. Clubs

National Capital Air Canines
William Linne', Director
2830 Meadow Lane Falls Church, VA 22042
703-532-0709(Hot Line) -or- 703-K93-DISC (Cellular)
Info: NCAC is a Washington D.C. Area Frisbee Dog club that sponsors 8
or more competitions and several instructional clinics per year in the
D.C. area, publishes a monthly newsletter, and organizes many social
events for club members throughout the year, including a canoe trip,
campout, and holiday party. NCAC competitions feature 2 skill levels
with three different events in each division. Ribbons and prizes are
awarded for the top three finishers in each event, and at the end of
the season, the top scorer is awarded the Capital Cup.

The Greater Atlanta Dog & Disc Club
Melissa Heeter, President
63 Red Top Circle, SE Cartersville GA 30120-6974
(770) 386-684

The Front Range Flyers K9 disc Club
Rick Brydum (, President
7015 E. Euclid Drive Englewood CO 80111

Carolina Air Canine North Carolina Dog & Disc Club
David Cantara , President
3216 Timberwolf Avenue High Point NC 27265
(910) 812-8778

The Austin Dog & Disc Club
Eric Calhoun
11805-B Bell Avenue Austin TX 78759
(512) 304-3119

The Austin Dog & Disc Club
Tim Donovan, President
1109 Regan Place Austin TX 78704
(512) 326-2145

The Dallas Dog & Disc Club
Ron Ellis, President
1001 Raven Bend Court Southlake TX 76092

Northern Colorado Disc Dogs
Chris Sexton, President
807 Aztec Dr. #A Ft. Collins CO 80521

The Central Florida Dog & Disc Club
Chuck Hensley, President
2937 Jennifer Drive Lakeland FL 33809
(941) 859-4770

The Windy City Dog & Disc Club
Don Kent, President
1410 Birch Avenue Hanover Park IL 60103
(708) 289-4369

First Coast K-9 Disc Masters (Jacksonville, FL)
Jeff Hoot , President
RT 1 Box 455 Horsesshoe Circle Bryceville FL 32099
(906) 266-4000

The Space City High Flyers
Joy Sebastian , President
1315 Sundown Meadows Crosby TX 77532

The Cascade Dog & Disc Club
Stan Sellers
85 Poplar Lane Selah WA 98942
(509) 968-3369

Houston Canine Frisbee Disc Club
John Tobin, Director
10603 Chevy Chase Houston TX 77042

The Southern CA Dog & Disc Club
Mike Miller, President
1529 Golden Rose Hacienda Heights CA 91745

The Flying Desert Dog & Disc Club
Bill Watters
PO Box 4615 Cave Creek AZ 85331 (602) 488-0353

St. Louis Disc Dog Club
Bob Niemeier
3666 Flora Place St. Louis, MO 63110

Northeastern Disc Dog Network
Eric Miller, Director Ed Jakubowski, Director
22 Louis Place Nesconset, NY 11767
(516) 265-3453 (Eric) (860) 859-0103 (Ed)

5. Organizations

Friskies/ALPO Canine Frisbee disc Championships
4060-D Peachtree Road, Suite 326 Altanta, GA 30319

Friskies/ALPO sponsors over a hundred community contests throughout
the country each year. There are also seven regional qualifying
tournaments culminating in the invitational World Finals on the mall
in Washington D.C. You can call the number above for free schedules
and training guides.

6. Resources

6.1 Books

"How to Teach Your Dog to Play Frisbee" by Karen Pryor, published in

"Frisbee Dogs, How to Raise, Train and Compete" by Peter Bloeme. 1991,
1994. ISBN 0-9629346-2-3
Peter and Whirlin' Wizard are the 1984 Ashley Whippet Invitational
World Champions, and Peter is the 1976 Men's World Frisbee disc
Champion. This book is considered the definitive work on the subject
of Frisbee Dogs.

"Jumping from A to Z: Teaching Your Dog to Soar" M. Christine Zink,
DVM. 1996

6.2 Videos

Peter Bloeme's Frisbee Dog: Training Video
Peter Bloeme's Frisbee Dogs:Throwing Video
Alpo Canine Frisbee Disc Championships 1996 World Finals Tape
( the above products can be ordered by calling 1-800-786-9240 )
( We have also seen the video sold in pet stores with a free disc )

6.3 Training and Freestyle Routine Creation CD-ROM

Glen Speckert has created a CD-ROM with a lot of great features. Visit
his WWW site to find out the details. WWW: email:

6.4 Training Material

NCAC Training guide ( online and paper versions ) Coming soon!

Free Pamphlet from Friskies ALPO Canine Frisbee disc Championships.
Contact the ALPO Canine Frisbee Disc Championships ( listed elsewhere
in this FAQ ) for a free training guide

6.5 Discs

The regulation canine disc used in most competitions is the Fastback
Frisbee disc. The Fastback can be bought through many of the Frisbee
dog clubs and organizations listed in this FAQ, and through many mail
order flying disc catalogues.


Frisbee Dog FAQ
National Capital Air Canines,

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