Getting Started in Disc
Getting a Dog/Puppy Started
There are many training resources online to help teach your dogs how to play disc. These are some basic tips on how to get your dog excited about playing disc. However, every dog is different! Some are total naturals at disc and many others require some creativity to get them to fall in love with the game!
Do not expect your dog to be able to catch a flying disc right away! This is something that holds a lot of people back from ever pursuing the sport. They throw some throws, the dog might fetch it, but they don't catch it. There is a reason for this. It is not natural for a dog to track things in the air flying. What is more natural for dogs is to chase a squirrel or a bunny! So use natural prey drive to your advantage, and ROLL the frisbee. That is right, ditch throwing it in the air for a bit and ROLL the flying disc on the ground. This unlocks your dog's prey drive and gets them to chase the disc while it is in motion. If they go at it and grab it, CHEER LIKE CRAZY! Always keep training sessions fun, and always make sure your dog knows when they're doing well.
Work on tugging, giving and dropping the disc on cue by using bite work! Pawsitive Vybe has some amazing free content on bite work on Youtube.
Now that you have some nice engagement from your dog, you can start mixing in some air throws! Many dogs that are actively working on bite work, will take to short throws well. Almost like you're doing a handoff but it's a slight toss. Then you slowly build up distance from there! Other dogs might do better with medium to longer throws. However, you need to make sure you have some nice float under the disc for most new disc dogs. This will give them a chance to get under it and catch it!
Again every dog has a different path to learning disc. However, once they get it, it is one of the most fun and rewarding sports to play with your dog! Not to mention, highly rewarding for you to play! It is so fun being involved in the game of disc and working on your own craft as well.
Here is an old training video of ours from many years ago. Many of these old school principals are still highly relevant today!
Most people have this question when they get involved. This section might sound more complicated than it is. It is actually simple. However, you might need to try many types out and see what you throw best and what your dog tracks/snags the best. There are lots of different discs out there, and each one has pros and cons. No one disc is the best in every circumstance. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each type of disc can help you when you step out on the field and throw for your dog. These are some general guidelines to go by, but as always there are exceptions...
Weight - the heavier the disc, the faster it will drop. The lighter the disc, the more it will hover and float. The heaviest discs are the ones made of puncture-resistant materials such as any disc from Hero Disc USA with the word SUPER in it (SuperStar, HuperHero, SuperSwirl). The Hyperflite Jawz is another really popular durable disc. The lighter discs are the discs that are made of the general plastic such as the Fastback, Hero Air 235, Hero Xtra and the Hyperflite Comp Standard.
Wingspan - the wider the diameter of a disc, the more air can get underneath to keep the disc up and hovering. It basically has a greater wingspan than a disc with a smaller diameter. Think of a parachute! Many women will choose a slightly smaller disc for their hands. Or a smaller disc for a smaller dog mouth. Hero Disc USA has a variety of sizes. 235 is standard sized, 215 is the sonic size and is slightly smaller, the 185 is the Atom size and is smaller yet!
Stability - Lightweight discs typically need to be released with greater hyzer (angle at release) than a disc that is stable. The Hyperflite Jawz are stable and have less of a tendency to roll over on itself. They actually have a tendency to "fix" themselves and flatten out in their flight path. The floppy fabric discs can be great for getting a dog started, but because they are floppy and have very little stability at all, the wind eats them up. Fabric discs are fine for our local competitions, but not all disc dog formats allow them. UpDog allows all discs that do not have a hole in the middle though!
The one thing that affects the disc the most in my mind is the WIND! Wind is every disc player's worst enemy, but we all have to deal with it, so learn to work with it!
Tail Wind- pushes the disc down. This is why a heavier disc like the Jawz and SuperHero may be a bad choice unless you have a really fast dog. The heavier weight will make the disc drop even faster. The lighter discs made of the regular plastic will float easier and if thrown properly without too strong of a tailwind, the tailwind will increase the distance of the disc. The greater the wingspan, the more lift the disc will have to combat the tailwind pushing it down. This is why the Jawz are not typically favored when throwing with the wind at your back, and why the Fastback usually performs better in these circumstances.
Head Wind- Lifts the disc up and will exaggerate the mistakes of the thrower. If you throw it a little right, it will pick the disc up and take it further that direction. If you throw it too high, the wind will dramatically limit the distance of the throw since it is pushing the disc back at you. Throwing slow with lots of spin and hyzer helps them throwing into the wind, since the wind will pick the disc up for you! The heavier discs cut through the wind better because of their weight. The smaller wingspan discs also cut through the wind since there is less "wing" for the air to get underneath. This is why Jawz and Super discs from Hero Disc USA are a favorite for throwing into a strong headwind - heavy disc with smaller wingspan. Lightweight discs are probably the most difficult to throw into a strong headwind.
For people just starting out, I usually recommend the Jawz from Hyperflite and Super discs from Hero Disc USA, mainly for their durability. If you don't let the dog chew on them, they will most likely last a long time and will save you lots of money in relation to the plastic discs in the long run. Also, you can use them to tug with little to no damage as well. They are generally easier for people to throw as long as the wind is not directly at your back. If the dog takes to the disc, then I would consider getting some regular Fastbacks or Hero Air 235's. Use the Jawz or Superheros to throw rollers, tug, takes, etc and practice throwing the lighter discs on your own, unless you have money to burn and don't care about ordering boxes and boxes of discs.
This stuff is actually pretty simple if you can show it, but putting it in writing tends to make it sound complicated. Hopelly it doesn't sound too confusing. If you are confused, reach out to us or ask a local expert! This is for general information. I've tried and bought every type of disc before I decided on my preferred discs. For me, it is the SuperStar 235 and SuperSwirl 235 for most situations. However, I still mix in lightweight discs too depending on the situation and dog!
How to Sign Up for a Competition
Disc dog is a sport that you can start competing in once you have engagement and a dog that enjoys chasing down disc. In UpDog rollers even count for throwing! If your engagement isn't high, you can play many disc dog venues with a long line on!
To stay up to date on each event I'd recommend following our Facebook page and/or the forum on this website! Everyone who "LIKES" our Facebook page gets invited to new events. In these event pages, we post all the sign-up information. Typically there is a form you will fill out to sign up 2-3 months in advance of the competition. You will want to make sure you stay up to date on upcoming competition sign updates so that the competition does not fill before you have the opportunity to sign up. We will always try to make sure we have space for our members, but the sport of disc is growing rapidly, so please stay on top of things! We just want everyone to come play and have fun!
If you are unfamiliar with a game or what you are signing up for, check out our Competition Format tab, and look into what the different competition venues are. All the venues will have different rules, games, and more! So it is great to educate yourself a bit before the sign-up! We all remember the first time we signed up for a disc event too. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us, we are here to help you!
Things to Bring to a Competition
A crate for your dog.
Lots of water for you and your dog.
Discs (typically for sale at MNDDC events!)
Sunscreen for you (and your dog if they have short hair).
NICE TO HAVE
Easy up canopy for shade/crating area
Crate cover to control excitement
Aluminet UV-Coated Shade Cloths for sun reflection
Snacks/hydration boost for dogs
Towel to wipe down discs
Easy up for protection from the elements
Cooler for drinks