We've all seen what canines can do as far as tricks go. From viral social media videos to world-class dog shows, frisbee tricks are everywhere! Flying discs are one of the most iconic dog toys in existence.
But if you've ever tried getting your dog to catch one, you know that it's not as easy as it looks!
Dogs have an inherent prey drive. They'll go after anything small and fast! But flying discs are a bit different. These toys don't make any noise and have no scent whatsoever. It's a foreign object that your pooch has to learn to love.
So, how do you train a dog to catch a frisbee? Read on to find out!
Things to Bear in Mind
Before you dive head-first into your frisbee ventures, there are a few things to know.
First and foremost, not all dogs are going to take to flying discs as fast as others. All dogs can learn to play and understand commands. But some are more apt to the skills it takes to chase a frisbee than others.
Breeds with a high prey drive tend to perform the best. They already have those strong instincts to chase after anything they see, so catching a flying disc comes naturally.
However, smaller breeds tend to have a more challenging time. Their jaws aren't as strong to catch toys mid-air. Plus, they usually can't leap as high as medium or large dogs.
All that said, it's still worth attempting! You can quickly adapt your training techniques to work with your dog and their lifestyle. Have a smaller pup? Go for a softer and lighter frisbee!
Beware of Injuries
Another vital thing to keep in mind is that dogs are not immune to injury! We see so many dogs exhibiting some killer moves on TV and social media that we forget that they are living creatures with delicate bones and muscles.
Catching a frisbee is an intensive activity. Depending on how you play, your pup might leap several feet into the air to munch on the disc!
It takes a lot of muscle strength and coordination. If you overdo things, all that muscle strain could come back to bite your dog on the butt.
You can start training your dog to follow and chase the frisbee early on. But, we recommend waiting for the more intensive stuff until after your dog's adult legs have matured.
Over-extending the muscles as a puppy could lead to musculoskeletal issues like hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Keep things accessible in the beginning. Once your dog is a healthy adult, you can start attempting to replicate those fantastic tricks! But even then, don't forget to monitor your dog's health and stamina.
Never force them to perform tricks to show off. It should be something they genuinely enjoy doing in a controlled and safe manner.
Gather the Essentials
Now that we have those crucial considerations out of the way, let's move onto the supplies! Training your pup to do anything will take a lot more than just simple commands and hope.
You must collect some essentials to ensure that the process is as smooth and efficient as possible.
Choose a Frisbee
Obviously, you're going to need a flying disc!
There are tons of options on the market today. From soft and flexible ones to chew-proof models that can withstand anything, the skies the limit!
Check out our article on some of the best frisbees available. Not only do we cover some essential tips on how to choose the right one, but we give you our recommended favorites!
A suitable frisbee can make all the difference. Choose one that caters to your dog's needs.
Match the disc to their behavior and skill level so that the process doesn't become overwhelming. Of course, safety and durability are vital considerations, too.
Don't rush the decision here. Take some time to find the perfect flying disc.
Treats and Water
Training your dog to catch a frisbee is all about bribery! Positive reinforcement is the way to go! The last thing you want to do is yell at your dog or punish them physically. Instead, take the opposite approach.
Plenty of treats and loving adoration will help create a positive connection to the toy. Any tasty snack will do. However, we recommend going for low-calorie training treats to avoid any unwanted weight gain.
Make sure you have some water available, too. Your pooch needs to stay hydrated if it's going to perform at peak levels.
An Open Training Space
Finally, find an open training space. You can use a large backyard or a dog park. Whatever the case may be, make sure that the space has a fenced perimeter.
Frisbees can travel a lot farther than most realize. Your dog can easily get lost chasing a stray throw.
Look for a distraction-free outdoor play area. Stay away from other dogs or people, as those distractions will only counteract your training. Your dog needs optimal focus, so go to a place that's free of anything that'll divert their attention.
Getting Comfortable With the Frisbee
The first step in the training process?
Getting your dog acquainted with this exciting new frisbee toy!
Remember: Your dog has no idea what this hunk of plastic or fabric is or what it does. It's a brand-new experience that they must get familiar with.
Don't rush this step. It can take several days or weeks for your dog to interact with the frisbee without any suspicion or confusion.
Let your pooch sniff the toy. Bring it out frequently and play with it yourself so that they know it's nothing to be afraid of. Some owners even like to use the disc as a feeding dish.
Pop some kibble in the concave side and let them eat out of it for an intimate one-on-one experience!
The Grabbing Game
Now it's time to push the interaction a little further.
The next step is to play the grabbing game. Think of the frisbee as a tug-of-war toy. Hold it up to eye level and entice them to grab it with their teeth.
Once they hold on, introduce a command to tell them to let go. The order can be something they already know, such as "Drop It!"
Provide tons of praise and treats. Seriously: Don't skimp on the goodies here. You want your dog to understand that it's alright to put its mouth on the toy. The goal is to get them to grab it instinctively.
Running and Grabbing
Now, try running around with the disc in your hand. Start small and run circles around your dog. Hold the frisbee above the eyes and entice them to grab it like before.
As your dog gets the hang of things, open up that running circle a bit. Do bigger circles and praise your dog when they stay laser-focused on the toy.
The Old Jump and Grab
Here's something a little more intensive. As we mentioned earlier, you might want to wait until your dog is full-grown to tackle this step.
Hold the frisbee above your dog's head as you stand upright. When they jump to grab onto it, release the frisbee so that they're holding it on their own.
This step simulates the experience of grabbing onto the disc mid-air. Repeat this several times and shower your pup with praise.
Light Throws and Gentle Tosses
After your dog masters all the previous steps, you can start tossing the frisbee. Start things easy and throw the toy only a few feet away. Have your pooch catch and retrieve the toy.
Some dog trainers like to introduce a new training command here. It could be "Fetch!" or something similar.
The goal is to teach your dog to bring the toy back to you. It's the final step of the game puzzle, so spend some extra time encouraging your dog.
Longer and Farther Throws
Finally, you're ready to start throwing considerable distances. Go all out and have fun! Your dog should have all the know-how they need to play a fun game.
Congratulation! You've done it! But, the work isn't over!
Make sure to play with your dog regularly. Once they get the hang of things, they'll want to catch the frisbee all the time.
Don't let your training techniques slip up. Keep on praising your dog. When possible, try to push the boundaries a little to maintain that mental and physical challenge.
Throw harder and faster to keep your canine companion in peak condition!
Over to You!
Training your dog to catch a frisbee is a rewarding experience that no one can take away from you. While it may be challenging, the payoff is well worth it.
So what are you waiting for? Buy a frisbee and start the training process today!