Dog frisbee is the most common of dog sports, and arguably the easiest to participate in. All that is required is a dog, a disc and a large, open space to maneuver in. You can find owners and their dogs enjoying this sport in most public parks and backyards on any given day. It came about not long after the introduction of the first Frisbee by Wham-O. As people began to enjoy the new fad, it soon made sense to incorporate their dogs into the fun.
In 1974, a 19 year old college student named Alex Stein helped give the sport of disc dog its first national exposure when he and his dog, Ashley Whippet, managed to crash a nationally televised baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds. As Stein and Ashley Whippet performed one dazzling catch after another, everyone in the stadium was mesmerized, as was TV broadcaster Joe Garagiola, who began to describe the disc action.
Though Stein was eventually escorted off the field by security officers and arrested, dog frisbee had successfully made its mark. With Stein leading the way, the drive for formal competition took off. The result was the Frisbee Dog World Championship (also known as the Ashley Whippet Invitational World Championship and the Canine Frisbee Disc World Championship), where dogs and handlers could strut their stuff and work to outdo the competition. Soon there would be competitions worldwide and various local, national and international organizations being created to sponsor the competitions.
The idea of the sport, often called disc dog because of the need to stay away from the trademarked “Frisbee” brand, is a simple one. Teams of one dog and one handler compete in a variety of formats, including “toss and fetch”, freestyle and long distance. Toss and fetch is the standard format, with dogs completing as many catches as possible within a 60 second period. Points are awarded based on the distance of the throw, with extra points awarded for mid-air catches.
Unlike the toss and fetch category, freestyle is a more complex and often more exciting form of dog frisbee. Here, dog and handler perform elaborate choreographed routines that can last anywhere from one minute, thirty seconds to two minutes. Often these routines will involve the use of more than one disc. Here, teams are judged in a variety of categories including canine athleticism, degree of difficulty, and showmanship. Because it can include spectacular vaults, flips and other feats of gymnastics it is the biggest crowd-pleaser of all the events.
Long distance competition involves several teams and, as the name suggests, points are awarded according to the distance of each catch. These events aren’t as common as the others but there are still several well-established disc dog distance competitions, the most well known being the Quadruped.
If you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable way to get your dog more exercise, dog frisbee is the perfect choice. It’s simple for most dogs to pick up the idea if you start slowly, throwing the disc over short distances directly to the dog. As he begins to get the hang of catching, you can increase the distance and the height until the disc is sailing over his head and he understands the concept of following after it to catch it. This is truly taking fetch to the next level and making it more for fun for you and your dog.