The Freestyle Flying Disc event at the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge® is definitely a crowd favorite, combining creativity, skills and teamwork that are sure to amaze.
If you have an active dog who especially loves playing fetch, this toss-and-fetch dog event may be a great activity to try.
In the Freestyle Flying Disc event at the Incredible Dog Challenge, a dog/handler team perform a routine of tosses, catches, stunts and tricks. Then the dog has a chance to earn bonus points by catching two long throws from their handler.
Each team is awarded points from judges for the dog’s skills and the handler’s skills. In the event of a tie, the team that makes the most catches will be the winner.
You see a wide range of breeds competing in Freestyle Flying Disc at the Incredible Dog Challenge, from herding breeds like Australian Shepherds or McNabs to other high-energy dogs like Jack Russell Terriers or Whippets. But the reality is you just need a dog with a strong desire, and the willingness to put the time in to learn together.
What You Need
The equipment for Freestyle Flying Disc training are:
- A dog in good condition who can run and jump with ease
- A flying disc
- A clean outdoor area with even ground and no obstacles
- Treats for reward
How to Train
Freestyle flying disc is one of the easiest Incredible Dog Challenge events to try on your own. Lots of dogs are already motivated to catch flying discs, and if your dog seems interested, your dog may have the potential to become a disc dog.
First, make sure you’ve got a large fenced area to work in so that you and your dog can practice with plenty of room.
Get started by helping your dog get familiar with the flying disc, and associate it with fun, praise, and treats. You can begin by using the disc as a bowl for a few treats. Then treat the disc like a toy, getting your dog excited about playing. Finally, do what’s called “Roll and Retrieve”– just roll the disc along the ground and tell your dog to bring it back. When he does, reward him with a treat and praise. See how.
After your dog is familiar with the disc, the next step is asking your dog to retrieve the disc from your hand. With your dog sitting 5–10 feet away from you, hold the disc out at arm’s length, as though it’s in the air, and call your dog to jump up and retrieve the disc from your hand. Once he’s done this a few times, start tossing the disc a few seconds before he’s reached you. Using this technique, you can practice longer and longer throws with your dog. See how.
Tips From a Competition Veteran
Andrea Rigler, along with her husband, Jason, use to play club level ultimate Frisbee®. Jason always wanted a dog he could throw a flying disc to.
The couple has competed at the Incredible Dog Challenge®, and now Andrea has joined Purina® as a trainer. Her advice for those getting started?
“Every dog is different,” said Rigler. “Don’t compare your dog with anyone else’s dog or anyone else’s journey—look for what makes your dog shine. When you first start, you see videos of other players and like their style and mold your own unique style from theirs – it’s hard to not go too fast and do more than you or your dog is ready to do at first. Go slow and enjoy every moment – the journey we have with our dogs really does go too fast. “
“All but one of our dogs are rescues or rehomes – and we really feel strongly that rescue dogs are fantastic for this sport as a lot of dogs end up in shelters for jumping fences, having too much energy or having natural herding behaviors – all things we look for in a great disc dog. We love to educate people about the ‘rock stars in waiting’ at their local shelters or rescues – that any dog truly can be amazing.”
There are a number of ways to get started in Freestyle Flying Disc:
- Find a club: There are clubs and dog gyms all over the country with facilities and knowledgeable staff. Just do a quick search online to locate one nearest you.
- Network: Another great place to begin is by networking through your local breed-affiliated club.
- Get outside: Truth is, all you need are some flying discs, a back yard or an area in a park where leash-off activities are permitted.
Flying Disc is a classic game for your dog that’s fun and a great way to burn off lots of energy. Whether you learn tricks for competition or just have a great time at the dog park, Flying Disc is the perfect way to get started training. And if your dog gets the hang of it, you could try your hand at dog competitions next!
Before getting started, remember that you should always consult your veterinarian to ensure your dog is fit for exercise. And make sure to fuel your incredible dog with advanced nutrition that will help them be their best. Find your dog’s formula.