How to Train a Dog to Play Frisbee
Playing Frisbee with your dog can not only be a great source of exercise for both of you but it can also be a lot of fun. While not all dogs are likely to respond to the tossing of a Frisbee, many dogs will and you can work with your dog to pique his interest and train him to chase the disc.
If you do not already own a dog but want to find one that will play Frisbee with you there are a few things you should look for. When purchasing a puppy, it is best to go with a pure-bred puppy and to select a breed that is known for its skills in Frisbee.
Adopting an adult rescue dog is also a good option because you will be able to interact with the dog before adopting him, getting to know his temperament and testing his disc-catching abilities. When adopting a dog, select one that is between 30 and 50 pounds with a lean build and even temperament. Try tossing the Frisbee for the dog a few times - if he shows interest in chasing the disc you may have found yourself a good Frisbee partner.
Before You Start Training
In order to be sure your dog is healthy enough to engage in a vigorous activity like playing Frisbee it is wise to consult with your veterinarian. Take your dog in for his regular check-up and ask your vet if it is safe for your dog to play. If your dog is old or suffers from joint problems or hip dysplasia, this type of exercise may not be good for him.
Most healthy, active dogs, however, are perfectly capable of learning to play Frisbee and will enjoy doing so. Even if your dog is used to exercising you should still plan to give him time to warm up so he will not injure himself.
Frisbee Training Procedures
If you want the greatest chance of success in teaching your dog how to catch a Frisbee it is best that he already have some basic obedience skills before you start. Enroll your dog in obedience classes so both you and your dog get a feel for responding to each other's cues.
When you are ready to start teaching your dog to play Frisbee you will need to start off slow so your dog doesn't get injured. Rather than jumping right in and throwing the disc for your dog, try rolling it on the ground like a wheel - this will help your dog get used to chasing the disc without being in danger of getting hit by it.
If your dog doesn't show immediate interest in the rolling disc, try sliding the disc back and forth on the ground in front of the dog, encouraging him to play with it. When the dog responds by pouncing on the disc, pick it up and send it rolling so your dog will chase it.
Once your dog has gotten used to chasing the Frisbee you can begin to make short tosses. When throwing the disc, be careful not to aim it directly at your dog - if he gets hit by the disc repeatedly, your dog may begin to fear it. Over time you can increase the distance of your tosses then begin teaching the dog to return the disc to you after catching it.
To teach your dog this trick, tether him to a long training lead and use it to reel him in after he catches the disc. As soon as your dog catches the disc, call him to you and use the training lead to pull him in, praising him as you do so. To avoid injury, do not hold on to the lead while your dog is chasing the disc.
Additional Tips and Tricks
When properly trained, dogs are capable of jumping to great heights to catch a disc mid-air. If your dog does not naturally develop this skill during training you can encourage him to do so with a little bit of work on the side. Hold the disc above your dog's head and say "jump" to get him to leap for the disc.
Progressively increase the height of the disc and let go of it as soon as your dog grabs it with his teeth. Once your dog has mastered the skill of catching and returning the disc you may need to work with him to get him to drop it. When your dog returns with the disc, say "drop" and point at the ground.
It may also help to have a treat or toy in your hand that the dog is likely to want. When your dog drops the disc, praise him and give him the reward. As your dog masters this skill you will no longer need to use a treat or toy but continue to praise your dog when he drops the disc for you.