Disc Dog: What are the rules and how to start with this sport?

Have you heard about sport called Disc Dog? It basically consists of throwing a disc to your dog that fetches it. Disc Dog can be done as a recreational or a professional sport. For professional competitors, there are several disciplines for which there are different rules. We have talked about Disc Dog with competitor Martina Bolehovská 

What can we imagine when talking about Disc Dog?
It’s mainly fun. The main fact is that Disc Dog is a sport for a dog together with a person – they are a team. A dog handler throws discs to a dog and it catches and fetches them. It’s also great that you can do this sport in a group of people who have fun together. 

Where does this sport come from?
Disc Dog has origins in ancient India where a disc was used as a weapon. In America,
students used to throw empty trays from pies to them which gave rise to sports called Ultimate
and Disc Golf. Someone had probably thought of throwing a disc to a dog even before Alex Stein, who is considered to be a pioneer of this sport, however, no one had ever had that kind of courage or such a skillful dog as Ashley Whippet. Alex and Ashley were the ones who showed Disc Dog at a baseball match in Los Angeles in front of the whole world.

Why is this activity beneficial for a dog?
It will definitely be more fit. Moreover, it’s a fun sport because dogs can use their innate predatory instinct.

What are the rules of Disc Dog?
There are two categories of Disc Dog – distance and freestyle – and each of them has quite complex rules. Distance disciplines are the following: The Quadruped, Time Trial, Dogdartbee and Super Pro Toss and Fetch (SPTF or also Super MiniDistance). Each of them has their own and little different rules and categories for evaluation. Freestyle is called a “royal discipline” because it is the most attractive for both the competitors and the audience. Several elements are evaluated. There are four referees for freestyle and each of them evaluates a different thing. Besides the style of throwing, they also focus on how dogs and their owners work as a team. You can read detailed rules for all disciplines at www.discdog.cz.

How to start with Disc Dog?
It’s perfect to play with dogs since they are little puppies. All dogs like the so-called rollers, i.e. discs they roll on the ground and it’s good to encourage their predatory instinct, too – for example by pulling. If you don’t have any experience with Disc Dog, it’s the best idea to take your dog and go to a seminar or practice. Many competitors organize them all over the Czech Republic. You can also meet one of our best competitors Míša Andrová. 

Can any dog do Disc Dog?
Yes. The only condition is that the dog should like fetching, but breeds don’t matter. Disc Dog can be done for example by Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Catahoula Leopard Dog or Hovawart. However, you’ll most often see Border Collies or crossbreeds. 

Is some special training necessary for Disc Dog?
You can start with the beginnings at home, but if you want to do Disc Dog systematically, it is better to go to a training where you’ll learn to throw a disc in a way your dog doesn’t get hurt. There are several ways to throw a disc to a dog and first you should practice them without your dog.  Another important thing is that the dog should get warm and stretch a little before it starts playing. 

What equipment is needed for Disc Dog?
The main thing is a disc, of course. You can find many types in shops and if you want to do it only as a recreational sport, it doesn’t really matter what disc you’ll get. First and foremost – it should be safe. You have to be careful about the fact the dog catches it when it’s moving in the air and its mouth or teeth shouldn’t get hurt. So, there shouldn’t be any sharp or rough edges or anything that could hurt the dog. A disc you can bend without breaking and stamp without cracking is the best. You should have a neoprene vest that will protect you from dog’s claws and it’s also good to have some protection of hands and legs, e.g. a bandage. 

With regard to professional Disc Dog level, are there competitions people can attend with their dogs?Since 2006, there has been a Disc Dog club in the Czech Republic that organizes a lot of distance and freestyle competitions even a beginner can sign up to. Also, there are the Disc Dog Brit Cup and the Czechblack Frisbee Dog League where you get points for yourself or your team which you play for the whole season. Besides basic competition, also the Czech Republic Championship is organized. Competitors need to qualify for it and then there is the European Championship which always takes place in a different European country. You can also qualify for the World Championship. Until now, it always took place in the USA, but it will be held in Europe for the first time in two years.