How to teach a dog to catch a Frisbee
I have never owned a dog that was especially keen on Frisbees but I have cared for some in my Dog kennel facility that loved to catch Frisbees. I have done extensive research on the whole Frisbee subject.
I learned recently that the United Kennel club in Britain banned the sport of Frisbee in their official sanctioned dog shows. Why? The possibility of injury among some of these Frisbee crazed Dog athletes is there. Personally I think that is carrying things too far, banning a sport because there have been some injuries. That possibility is there in every single sport for animal or human.
From what I have witnessed, dogs that love Frisbees, and leap through the air in twists and turns, do it because they enjoy it! However, that being said, if you do plan on training your dog to be that ultimate Frisbee athlete, please make sure your dog is 100% fit and schedule regular chiropractic treatments or exams just to be sure.
To Frisbee or not to Frisbee? Teaching your dog to catch a Frisbee usually begins when they are puppies. Start with a soft floppy Fabric type of Frisbee, strong enough to play Tug of War with it too. You want your puppy to choose the Frisbee as his or her’s favorite toy. As your puppy grows into an adolescent, you can graduate to firmer Frisbees that can take a little chewing. The Nylabone flexichew is one such frisbee.
You want to stay away from the Frisbees made for people, they are too hard. Repeated grabbing and catching by a dog will damage his teeth and mouth. The punctures in the plastic left by powerful teeth become sharp points for your hands and your dog’s mouth as well.
Once you have your puppy thoroughly hooked into the joys of playing with a Frisbee, it’s time to teach him or her to retrieve as you would teach him or her to retrieve a ball or other toy. When teaching the business of retrieve, I generally rely on treats at first, trading the ball, toy or in this case Frisbee, for a treat. With some dogs that are not overly treat motivated, sometimes using another toy as a trade off works too.
I have had success in teaching dogs, very dominant dogs, in retrieving and giving me their special ball or toy, by trading for another. One particular dog would only give up a tennis ball to me, if I had another one ready to throw. I could keep her busy untill she was exhausted (or I was bored) with a few tennis balls. Another dog, also very dominant, was crazy for cuzin squeeky balls (they are round latex balls with feet). I could sit on a bench and ask him to bring me the ball, but he would sometimes drop the ball too far from me. I would then ask him to bring it ‘closer’. He got so good at this, I didn’t have to leave my bench. He knew I was not about to throw the other toy unless I had his other one in hand. What fun!
If your dog is already an adult, it’s not too late to introduce the Frisbee. Some trainers will use the Frisbee as the dog’s food dish, so the dog will see the Frisbee as a wonderful source of goodness! Obviously this is not a good idea if you feed your dog a raw, cooked or canned diet! Messy! This training method would only work for kibble or bisquits. The point is to get the dog so entranced by the Frisbee that he or she will literally want to leap through the air to get it when you throw it.
Fabric Frisbees like the Chuckit Squirrel and the Booda Tailspin Flyer (and others) are ideal for home play once your dog is past the stage of chewing. I have used both the Nylabone frisbee and the fabric ones but most dogs will prefer the fabric frisbees for catching out of the air. The Nylabone flexichew frisbees hurt when the dog makes contact with it midair with his nose! The fabric frisbees however don’t last long in the mouths of chewers!
If you are wanting to create a Frisbee athlete, then Frisbees like the Hyperflite Jawz won’t disappoint. More expensive, yes, but they are light and durable and are often the Frisbee of choice by serious competitors. Ebay has some at competitive prices, I did some research for you and found the top three. The Hyperflite Jawz is very popular and the prices vary wildly but Ebay seems to have the lowest price with Free shipping. Click on the following Ebay links for the Hyperflite Jawz or the Booda Tailspin Flyer or a Chuckit Squirrel (Canada) or Chuckit Squirrel (USA & others)or or the floating Chuckit Paraflite . The last three types generally come in 3 sizes. When Ebay says ‘Free shipping’ in conjunction with Shipping from the US, it means only Free shipping to anywhere in the Continental USA.
I always wanted to do more with Frisbees and dogs, however, my throwing technique…, well my throwing in general just sucks! There I said it….My Frisbees usually wind up on the roof or over the fence! The looks of frustration on my poor dogs (and sadness), when yet another Frisbee or toy is sitting on the roof. I hope this answers your question on how to teach your dog to catch a frisbee. Happy training!
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