Disc dog is the more generic name for what is commonly called
frisbee dog. In disc dog competitions,
their human disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching
and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching.
The term disc is preferred because
is a trademarked name for a certain brand of flying disc.
The sport got its start in the early 1970s, paralleling the rise in
popularity of frisbee sport. The definitive moment came on
Alex Stein, a young college student from Ohio, jumped the fence at a
game between the
Los Angeles Dodgers and the
Cincinnati Reds. He had with him a couple of frisbees and an amazing dog
Ashley Whippet. Ashley astonished the crowd with eight minutes of catching
frisbees, running 35 mph and leaping 9 feet in the air to snag discs. The stunt
was so novel that the game was stopped and
Garagiola continued to announce the action on the field. Finally, however,
enough was enough, and Alex was escorted off the field. But the seed was
planted, and a new sport was born.
Alex worked with
Irv Lander and
Eldon McIntire to create a nationwide competition for people and their dogs.
It was a sport that is easy enough for anyone, and that celebrates the bond
between handler and dog. Even today, Alex and Eldon continue to contribute to
Ashley Whippet, widely considered to be the greatest frisbee dog ever, went
on to win 3 World Championships, perform at the
House for a young
perform during the
Super Bowl XII, and even starred in an
Academy Award-nominated short
documentary entitled Floating Free. Though many great dogs have come
along since Ashley, he is still the standard by which all others are measured.
Ashley's legacy lives on now, 30 years later, as the sport has become popular
worldwide. People and their dogs on at least four continents organize
competitions and enjoy the simple joy of a disc in flight—and that terrific rush
(for the dogs) of the catch at the end!
Competitions often feature the dynamic Freestyle event, consisting of short
choreographed to music with multiple discs in play, and the short-distance
format event, in which teams earn points for catches at varying distances.
Freestyle is a subjectively judged event, similar to Freestyle events like
half-pipe, or Freestyle Footbag (Hacky
sack). The team consists of one person (handler) and his or her dog.
Depending on the event, the length of a routine might be anywhere from one
minute and 30 seconds all the way to three minutes. Teams are judged in
categories that include Canine Athleticism, Degree of Difficulty, Showmanship,
and so forth. Incredible flips, hyperfast multiple catches, and spectacular
vaults make freestyle a popular event with spectators, and it is regarded as the
highest level of competitive accomplishment.
Short Distance events go by many names: MiniDistance, Throw & Catch, Toss &
Fetch, Distance/Accuracy. The concept is generally the same: Teams are given 60
seconds to get as many catches as possible on a field marked with increasingly
longer distances. The distances generally don't exceed 50 meters for the longest
catches. Points are assigned to catches based on the distance of the catch, and
an extra half point will be awarded for the dog being completely airborne for
the catch. Only one disc is used for these events.
Long Distance events are less common, but are still popular. They have a few
different formats, but generally, the longest catch wins the event.
Divisions in frisbee dog events are usually based on the skill and experience
of the handler. Men and women compete in the same divisions for all disciplines
except Long Distance, which is usually split into men's and women's events
because it is a power event.
Though competitions generally take place in summer on nice, flat, grassy
fields, winter frisbee on soft snow is also popular in places.
Requirements to compete
Dogs of all kinds can play frisbee. In fact, many dogs from
animal shelters and
groups excel at frisbee. Even some World Champions were originally rescued from
shelters. Many of the problems that put dogs into shelters and rescue groups,
or destructive or neurotic behavior, are often attributes that can be positively
channeled into a sport like frisbee. To put it shortly, these dogs simply need a
consistent job to do. Many frisbee dogs also "cross-train" in other
sheepdog trials, and
Part of the popularity of the sport is its accessibility. All that is
necessary to enjoy it is a level grassy playing area, a dog, and a frisbee.
Also, a little imagination is an extra plus for Freestyle. It is estimated that
over one million dogs play frisbee in the
United States alone, though only a small percentage participate in organized
Frisbee dogs are also popular attractions at sporting events as half-time
entertainment. Going clear back to Ashley and his 7th inning stretch performance
in 1974, Frisbee dogs have performed at countless football, basketball, baseball
and soccer halftimes. They are many times found in amusement parks, county fairs
and pet festivals of all kinds. There are a very small handful of trainers who
even make a living doing these shows.
Frisbee dog clubs are the backbone of the sport. They organize and promote
the sport on a local level, and work with national organizations to run events.
They offer people a way to learn more about the sport if they are new, and are a
great place for the more experienced competitors to give back. Frisbee dog clubs
are quite often active in local animal charities, helping to raise money and
awareness for the groups that exist to help others. Frisbee dog clubs can be
found all over the United States,
The first club was the Dallas Dog and Disc Club, founded in the mid-80s by Ron
Teaching a dog to catch a frisbee
Not all dogs immediately understand the concept of chasing a frisbee thrown
over their heads so that they must turn to chase it and catch it. If a dog
already knows how to catch, it can learn this new concept if the disc is thrown
at increasing heights, starting by throwing the disc straight to the dog from a
short distance, then gradually throwing the disc higher until it finally goes
over the dog's head and he instinctively follows the disc all the way around.
List of dog sports
| List of Dog Sports
| List of Protection Sports
| Dog Fighting
| Sled Dog
| Greyhound Racing
| Companion Dog Title
| Dachshund Racing
| Disc Dog
| Dog Agility
| Dog Harness
| Dog Racing
| Dog Scootering
| Dog Show
| Drag Hunting
| Lure Coursing
| Musical Canine Freestyle
| Sheepdog Trial
| Weight Pulling
| Wiener Nationals
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