I often see dogs who have trouble with two things when playing the sport of disc.
ONE: The dog can’t reliably catch the disc.
TWO: The dog can’t reliably return with the disc.
These are easy fixes if you do the work (like I always say).
In my featured video this week I explain the main way to prevent BOTH of these issues. In future videos and blog posts I will examine other points of playing the sport. This will include time lines in which to train certain behaviours and work on skills in order to play the sport in the funnest and easiest way possible and avoid injury.
I am training my Kuvasz Ira to play canine disc. He is five months old. Some of you may think this is outrageous and that a livestock guardian dog should not and cannot play disc. I feel however, that it is just another thing to train and if the dog enjoys it then it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you play correctly and avoid injury.
The main thing you want to pay attention to when you are training any dog to play this sport is that you don’t start training jumps at too young an age. This is a very real concern and can do great damage to the dog’s legs and hips, even with small breed dogs.
Any jumping before six months is completely unacceptable. Even better, wait until your dog is a year old or even longer.
You don’t NEED to have your dog jump to play disc.
You just need to train her correctly to catch and retrieve the disc. The rest is fluff.
For larger dogs, wait until a year and a half or even two years. This will give you plenty of time to train your dog to flawlessly retrieve the disc and other important behaviours.
The other thing to focus on if you want your dog to play correctly and avoid injury is teaching the dog to catch the disc properly.
Many dogs take off from their handler before the throw and are not facing towards or do not have her/him in their eyes. When you set your dog up to go for a catch, make sure your timing is correct and your dog is leaving you just as the disc is – more or less.
If your dog is not looking at you when you throw, he won’t necessarily know which direction you are throwing, and if it is a bad throw, won’t be able to recover and catch it without much effort. Sometimes that effort to catch a throw leads to injury because the dog is twisting or jumping straight up to catch a disc that was not thrown with the dog in mind – just thrown.
Now, your dog doesn’t have to be looking at you when you throw forever. The most important time to be doing this is when you start playing. Once you become experienced and have a partnership with your dog, things change and get easier, but overall your dog knows what you will do and you know what your dog will do.
The above video also addresses the retrieve as well which can also be problematic if not done in the correct training timeline.
In the video above I am not training Ira to catch yet, just testing his interest in the disc, but I explain how training in certain timeline helps your dog learn how to catch and retrieve well.
Happy Disc Training!