5 High-Flying Disc Dogging Tips From A Pro
Summer – it’s the time of year you and your dog can unwind, feel the grass beneath your feet, run across the warm sand on the beach or hang out in your favorite park. And of these activities can be made even more awesome with the aid of a flying disc! Dogs and Frisbees go together like peanut butter and jelly (or peanut butter and bacon… or peanut butter and banana… or peanut butter and anything)! Kevin Roberts sat down to talk with a disc dogging expert, Michelle Thompson, about how you can maximize the fun level in this sport, all while doing it safely.
Michelle Thompson has been playing since 2002 and competing in disc sporting events with her dogs since 2004. Together with her husband , Jason Thompson, they run ‘PEG CITY Disc Dogz in Winnipeg, a club that trains, and teaches people how to get involved in the art, and the sport of disc with your dog. Michelle is also a judge for the Canadian Disc Dog Association and attends sanctioned disc dog trials. She knows a thing or two about disc dogging and she’s happy to pass along her tips.
“Watch how your dog lands,” says Thompson. “A good landing should be balanced. You ideally want you dog landing gently on their feet. The dog shouldn’t slip, and everything should look in control.” Thompson’s advice is that a good landing is aided by a disc not being thrown too out of control. Jumping up and landing heavy or twisted (unbalanced) can cause injury to your canine athlete, and landing on the back legs can cause injury in your canine athlete.
It’s not just the dogs who need training! Thompson often says that the people come for a few lessons on how to properly and safely throw a disc for their canines. A properly thrown disc should be straight ahead in front of the dog. A disc thrown at an angle can be difficult for a dog to catch, and may even cause the dog to twist and become injured.
An important part of disc dogging safety is your timing. Handlers learn to be aware of when they release the disc, so that the dog is in a better position to go out and catch it. A dog should not be turning or twisting their body to catch the disc. Thompson advises that handlers teach their dog a “Go Around” command, in which the dog runs around the handlers body, or through their legs, so when the disc is released, the dog is running straight out to catch it.
Discs come in a variety of sizes. For smaller dogs, under 15 inches, there are specially made mini discs available for them – the dogs have an easier time handling and bringing back for you to throw again. Larger dogs can use a normal sized disc.
Don’t Cheap Out on a Disc:
Dollar stores and toy sections are not where you want to be getting your dog a new disc. Hard plastic discs, like the kind humans have an easy time catching, often shatter or crack in a dog’s mouth. A proper disc for doggy play has some degree of flexibility to it. No cut gums or mouths with these ones! The Canadian Disc Dog Association and the carries a list of dog safe discs so you and your friend can play safely. You can expect to shell out anywhere from $5 to $30 for a safe doggy disc. Some of the popular brands include Wham-O and Hyperflite.
Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and play with your dog!