How to Teach Dogs Disc Tricksby Courtney McCaffrey
Teaching your dog disc tricks is not an easy task, but it can be rewarding and fun for you and your pup. Since disc tricks are an off-leash activity, your pup needs to be obedient and always come when called. Once you've worked with your pup on fetching a tennis ball, sticks or toys, you're ready to make the transition into disc tricks. With a lot of patience on your part, as well as positive reinforcement and tons of training, your pup will be catching discs in no time.
Choose a disc for your pup. The usual plastic discs you see at the pet store or throw around with your friends are not the proper discs to use with your pet. These discs are too hard and can injure your dog. The Aerobie Superdisc is a common, inexpensive type, but you'll find a variety of dog competition discs such as the Wham-O Fastback, Hyperflite K-10 and Hero Discs. Most brands manufacture a variety of discs to suit a variety of dogs' needs. Some are made to maintain their flexibility in cold conditions, while others have grips for excess slobber. Test them out and see which one your dog likes best.
Familiarize your dog with the disc you're about to use to teach him. If your dog already enjoys fetching, roll the disc around on the floor to gain his interest. Toss or roll the disc to different spots and reward your dog with affection each time he brings it back.
Hold the disc in front of your pup and let him take it out of your hand. Reward him with affection each time he takes the disc out of your hand. After your pup has mastered taking the disc, give the disc a light toss into the air the next time your pup comes to grab it. Give your dog affection each time he tries to catch the disc, but don't give him a treat unless he catches it. Pick up the disc off the ground yourself.
Keep tossing the disc lightly into the air, about as high off the ground as your dog's head, until he is catching it and returning it to you every time. Once he masters the catch at a certain distance, throw the disc farther until he masters it at the new distance.
Reward your pup every time he catches the disc in the air when training. Remain consistent and never give him a treat when the frisbee lands on the ground. Once he's catching the disc out of the air all the time, you can remove the treats and reward him with praise and affection. Always make disc tricks with your dog fun and keep training sessions short but frequent to maintain your pup's interest.
Increase the height of your throws along with the distance, so your dog can leap into the air and catch the disc. Teaching your pup to jump through a hula hoop first will help him get his butt into the air and land in a forward motion -- the perfect body formation for catching a disc. Competitors usually incorporate a variety of throw distances and heights into their disc routines. Practice throwing short, medium and long distances for your pup, as well as high and low tosses. Throw the disc backhand or from behind your back to add flair to your tricks.
Impress your friends or viewers by teaching your dog "multiples," whereby you throw multiple discs to your pup, one right after the other. Start with short distances and a couple of discs; increase the number of discs and distance as your pup advances. Praise and encourage your pup after each catch; he will learn to hold a disc in his mouth while he catches another, and another, and so on. Toss discs in succession at different distances and heights to create a routine for competition or just showing off. Frequent, brief practice makes perfect.
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- Check with your vet to make sure your pet is able to perform activities that involve intense exercise and jumping.
- Always keep plenty of water on hand for your pup.
- Don't throw the disc at your dog. Always throw it in front of him. If your pup gets hit by the disc too hard, he may view the training as a negative experience and resist.